Sunday, December 26, 2004

Do I have to come right out and say it

Thomas Sowell, a very doctrinaire conservative economist and pundit, calls Dan Rather the virtual equivalent of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propagandist during WWII.

In a delicious bit of irony, Sowell seems not to be aware of the propaganda spouted by the current administration to bolster its case for Iraqi adventure, but instead decides that anyone who questions Der Bushenfuhrer is not to be believed. Rising to a high level of sophistry, he proclaims:
...the fact that discrepancies in the documents he relied on have convinced experts and many others that they were forgeries. Why was what George W. Bush did or didn't do 30 years earlier "news" in 2004?
The fact that virtually everyone, with the notable exception of Mr. Rather, now regards those documents as fake -- instead of simply "not authenticated" -- makes Dan Rather the clear winner of the Joseph Goebbels award for 2004
Well, you idiot, it's because the Swift Boat Vets For Slime, aided by Karl Rove, made 30 year old actions by Presidential candidates very relevant to today's politics! Additionally, the dishonest use of "experts and many others" makes me just want to scream!

First, re: the memos, it's not true. No one has proven with any objectivity or finality that the documents are either forged or not. A University of Utah forensic study has been allegedly debunked by the Right Wing Echo Chamber (RWEC) here, and here, but the jury is still out. The author of the study, Professor David Hailey, returns fire here, courtesy of one of the debunkers.
David Neiwert, of Orcinus, a truly respected writer on the left, adds this to the rebuttal of the rebuttal. A fairly balanced report of the whole font story is found here at wikipedia. Bottom line is, the contents of the memo have NOT been refuted successfully anywhere. But did you see that in the SCLM anywhere? Nah, didn't think so.

Second, I request today that henceforth, all legitimate writers please refrain from using the unqualified "others," "some", and "everyone." Those words offer a cheap way to inject one's own bias into a discussion, and have zero journalistic merit. "Some, including xxx," "everyone, as evidenced by..." or "XXX, and others, have said that..." are marginally acceptable, but without any qualifier, those are useless words in editorial writing, IMNSHO. Such sophomoric journalism just makes me crazy.

Sowell continues:
It is not necessary to believe that Rather knowingly used phony documents. It seems more likely that the political opportunity was too juicy to resist just because some document experts pointed out some problems with the typing and other details. It is the purpose that is decisive, so that even honest people are eligible for this award. We have to be inclusive.
Yes we do, Tom. That's why you now recieve our first weekly Right is Wrong award, for making your own rebuttal so effortless. Yes, your purpose is decisive, to smear anyone anywhere who dares critique Fearless Leader. And by ignoring the dissembling on the Right about Kerry's records, Bush's clear avoidance of duty, and the agenda of the right in general, you prove once again that process trumps reality, and fiction beats fact.

The juiciest bit of irony comes at the end of the piece. Howell finishes self righteously with:
Perhaps there could be a lifetime achievement Goebbels award for those who entered journalism for political reasons, rather than to convey information and let the audience decide. But there would be too many claimants and the award would therefore lose its exclusive quality.
You, sir, are hereby nominated for that award.