Friday, January 06, 2006


In late December, The Daily Howler gave us a lesson in disinformation:
Where does disinformation come from? Consider Bart Gellman's short report atop page 12 in [December 22's Washington] Post. Here's the headline, which helps to spread the latest RNC phony info:

WASHINGTON POST HEADLINE (12/22/05): Carter, Clinton Authorized Spying, RNC Says

You're right. Technically, that headline doesn't actually claim that Carter and Clinton "authorized spying." It only states that the RNC says so. Of course, Gellman knew how bogus that claim really is. But you had to read all the way to his final paragraph to ferret out that information:
GELLMAN (12/22/05): The RNC's quotation of Clinton's order left out the stated requirement, in the same sentence, that a warrantless search not involve "the premises, information, material, or property of a United States person." Carter's order, also in the same sentence quoted, said warrantless eavesdropping could not include "any communication to which a United States person is a party."
In other words, Carter and Clinton didn't "authorize spying" on U.S. citizens, as the RNC has been claiming. This matter has been discussed in detail at various outlets. For example, see this report from ThinkProgress.

Where does disinformation come from? If you're a reader of the Post, you get the impression, from scanning today's headlines, that Carter and Clinton "authorized spying." You had to read the full report, rather carefully, to find out that this claim is bogus. Even then, Gellman never explicitly raises the question of the RNC's dissembling. You have to piece the basic idea together: The RNC is at it again.

Why did Gellman write this report as he did? Why did the Post put this headline atop it? We don't know, but we do know this: Cheers rang out at the RNC when they saw their bunk at the top of page 12, with readers required to read very carefully to discern that the claim is pure hokum.

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