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Information wars, the unhinged media, & bait-and-switch

By Michelle Malkin  •  August 24, 2004 10:47 AM

Belmont Club has a trenchant analysis of the battle underlying the “Kerry vs Swiftvets bout.” The veterans’ story is not only a threat to the Kerry campaign, but also to the control freaks in the mainstream media. Excerpt:

The power of the Mainstream Media lay in the fact that they controlled the generation of news objects; how they arose, what they did, how they ran their course. They were the news object foundry; able to make them “type safe”; define what they could do, and what they could not. And that power was enormous. Glenn Reynolds intuitively understood this when he wrote:

Elections come and go, politicians come and go, and pretty much all of them turn out to be disappointments one way or another. But the “Fourth Estate” is a big part of the unelected Permanent Government that in many ways does more to run the country than the politicians.

So when the Swiftvets story shouldered its way into the public consciousness despite the best efforts of the “gatekeepers” to consign it to oblivion, it posed an existential challenge to the news foundries. For where one could come, more would follow. The Mainstream Media responded to accusations by Swiftvets that Kerry had misrepresented his combat record in Vietnam by creating their own alternative news object, whose methods were restricted to OutrageAgainstBush( ) and SympathyForKerry( ), with read only properties Responsible and Respectable. They could no longer block the data, but they could still transform it…

So well put.

A perfect example of this is what happened last Thursday night on Hardball, where I was scheduled to talk about my book and, at the last minute, the Swift Boat Vets and their book. In a hysterical effort to “block the data”–i.e., the questions about Kerry’s self-inflicted wounds raised in Unfit for Command–Chris Matthews transformed my words into “shooting himself on purpose.” Gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, journalistic dumpster diver, picks up on this mainstream media-manufactured meme today and selectively quotes from the show transcript in support of Matthews. Some viewers say I should have clarified the military vs. civilian interpretation of “self-inflicted wounds.” Most fair-minded viewers saw that this is exactly what I was trying to do–against gale force winds.

Despite all of Matthews’ huffing and puffing and belittling of me (he referred to me last night on his show as “Michelle Malkin or something” after admitting watching our exchange “12 times”…how ridiculously insecure is that?), and despite all of the rest of the MSM’s stonewalling, the SwiftBoat story continues to unfold. Here’s the latest on Kerry’s apparent backtracking on his first Purple Heart Wound and here‘s a new piece at FrontPageMag taking a critical look at Kerry’s Silver Star citations.

Jeff Jacoby has related thoughts on Kerry’s biggest fawning fans in the press. And on his new blog (welcome aboard!), David Limbaugh reports on more underhanded Lefty tactics against the Swiftees during ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulous (scroll down) on Sunday. See also Jack Kelly at Jewish World Review on the role of the blogosphere.


Meanwhile, thanks to several readers who sent this column by the incomparable Thomas Sowell on the “bait and switch media.” Here’s an excerpt:

Readers sometimes ask why I am seldom seen or heard on television or radio. Mainly it is because I turn down 90 percent of the invitations I get. A recent radio interview shows why.

I was invited on as a guest to talk about my new book, “Affirmative Action Around the World.” But when I phoned in for the interview while the program was on the air, I discovered that another guest was already waiting in ambush, talking about a wholly different topic, minimum wage laws.

When I asked the hostess whether I was on the program to discuss minimum wage laws and she said that I was, I knew that this was the old bait-and-switch game that I had encountered many times over the years.

It goes like this: An author is invited on the program to talk about his book but, when he gets there, he finds that the interview is actually about something else. Most guests, being polite, will just go along and the program gets an interview on something they want to talk about, with someone who might never have bothered to be interviewed by them otherwise.

Having another guest on, talking about a different topic, makes this game work even better. In this case, the other guest talked on and on until finally I asked if she were going to be allowed to filibuster.

I had no objection to discussing minimum wage laws, a subject on which I had written many times. But that was not why I was there.

So I hung up the phone…

Sowell rocks.

Update: Drudge is reporting that “Kerry’s campaign now says is possible first Purple Heart was awarded for unintentional self-inflicted wound…”

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Categories: Barack Obama, Chris Matthews, Media Bias