Remember the Sandy Berger smear? This was the story claiming that President Clinton’s National Security Advisor had smuggled incriminating documents out of the National Archives. (Berger was completely cleared.) This was a planned smear – in the works for months – and was used by the Republicans to make the public think that Clinton was responsible for letting the 9/11 attack happen and that “the Democrats” were engaged in a conspiracy to cover up the evidence.
Well, along similar lines, and listening to Limbaugh just now, I can see that the Right’s “Bush Guard memo forgery” is taking shape. The entire Wurlitzer – the Right’s media echo chamber that is able to repeat a lie over and over and over until it is the ONLY story in the news – is cranked up and telling the public that CBS has been caught engaging in a smear against Bush using forged documents. Never mind that the document (one document, no plural ‘s’) in question is legit.
According to Limbaugh:
- One document is said to look like it could have been typed on a modern computer.
- Therefore ALL such documents are forgeries.
- Therefore CBS is intentionally working a smear on Bush.
- Therefore ANY stories about Bush’s National Guard service are not to be believed – he served honorably.
- Therefore this proves that CBS (and by extension, ALL mainstream media) is a tool of the “Liberal Elite” and is working hand-in-hand with the Kerry campaign to smear Bush.
- Again, by extension, ANY stories ANYWHERE, EVER about Bush doing ANYTHING bad are Liberal lies.
Keep in mind that this is not just Limbaugh. In a NY Times Op-Ed this morning William Safire has a piece titled “Those Discredited Memos” (note that he uses the plural…) And it doesn’t stop there. It hardly even STARTS there. Today a Google News search for “Bush documents CBS” locates 2,460 stories. (According to reporting from Salon, a Republican PR firm that is also involved with the Swift Boat smear is engaged in driving this story.)
This also has all the earmarks of typical right-wing smear tactics. It starts with a small, unproven accusation. The Right’s Wurlitzer picks up the accusation and amplifies it until pretty much everything else is deflected out of the news. Soon every story on the subject assumes the truth of the original accusation. As soon as each new accusation is refuted – a refutation never even mentioned in the Right’s stories – new accusations emerge, leaving the original accusation and refutations behind. Within days the accusations are escalating so fast that no one can keep up – by the time one accusation is addressed two or three more appear, which creates a fog that is impossible to cut through. The cumulative accusations — all assumed to be true in the stories put out by the Right media — become a general attack on “Liberals” or “Democrats” in general. The entire episode “proves” that the public should dismiss ANY story from the “mainstream” press or any authority figure that previously might be thought of as “responsible.”
And so it goes. Watch your backs!