Friday, March 26, 2010

Reading: Billmon on disinformation

Yesterday I mentioned that Republican Eric Cantor's complaint that he, too, was a victim of the same sort of political violence (or threats thereof) directed toward Democratic members of Congress in recent days would be welcomed by the mainstream news media as permission to fit the story into the "both sides are to blame" narrative structure that they're most comfortable with.

In a reply to a comment from Chuck Butcher, who pointed out follow-up reports documenting that there was absolutely no basis in--for want of a better term--fact for Cantor's claim, I added this:

[T]he point is, this is apt to become a Zombie Lie that will continue to walk the earth even though it's been disproved multiple times, simply because its importance to the required narrative ["see? both sides are guilty!"] trumps the niggling fact that it isn't true.

Billmon, in a welcome return at DailyKos, has a really strong diary entry about the inner rhetorical workings of this strategy in Republican hands. Here's a taste:

The basic objective of all this, as I wrote way back when, is very simple:
The goal is to confront the public with two sides hurling identical charges at each other -- the better to convince them that it's just another partisan mudfight and who the hell knows . . . anyway.

Go read the whole thing. Don't get caught up about the title--he's kidding. But his point is dead serious. And dead right.

Proof? Billmon notes this headline from today's NYTimes:

Accusations Fly Between Parties Over Threats and Vandalism

Why bother distinguishing the facts of the matter when storylines like this are so much simpler?

Billmon's diary is going on the much-neglected Reading list in the sidebar.


Chuck Butcher said...

"...Zombie Lie that will continue to walk the earth..."

Which, of course, was the entire point of making a deal of it in the first place. Even a passing familiarity with firearms would call some question into mind about a bullet that broke a window and couldn't get past a blind - that might involve having seen one in the movies...
The Cantor response ... well it might have been true and you're just mean.

Chuck Butcher said...

BTW, thanks for the shout out

Nothstine said...

>The Cantor response ... well it might
>have been true and you're just mean.