Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Guardian must love assassination stories

Yesterday The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Duncan Campbell covered Pat Robertson’s buffoonery, and did so fairly well. They presented the Bush administration’s blunt rejection of his comments for what they were, and although they waited until the very last two sentences to allow another religious leader to forcefully condemn Robertson, they did at least do so, and the article was factual, informative, and mostly fair.

However, Campbell has apparently decided that his previous article didn’t do quite enough to smear Bush with Robertson’s nuttiness, and so today he’s given it another go. The article begins thus:
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela hit back vigorously at calls by an ally of President George Bush for his assassination by offering cheap petrol to the poor of the US at a time of soaring fuel prices.
Again, this is the introductory sentence. So, having failed to actually identify the person who made the assassination call, but noting that, whoever it was, it was an “ally” of Bush, Campbell clearly feels it is more important to implant the association between Bush and the assassination comment than to inform his audience who actually said it. It is only after this that we are introduced to Pat Robertson himslef.

Campbell then goes on to inform us:
The Bush administration tried to distance itself from Mr Robertson's views without upsetting the large Christian fundamentalist wing which the veteran evangelist represents.
What does he mean “tried to” distance itself? First of all, Robertson is a private citizen, and is not now, nor has he ever been, a spokesman for the administration in any capacity at all, either officially or unofficially. So there is no reason to presume that the administration would be “close” to Robertson’s views in the first place. But, lest there be any doubt, this is what the administration had to say about those views:
This is not the policy of the United States government. We do not share his views…Any accusations or any idea that we are planning to take hostile action against Venezuela or the Venezuelan government - any ideas in that regard - are totally without fact and baseless. – State Department spokesman Sean McCormack

Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time.– Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
The fact that the administration “does not share his views” and “doesn’t do that kind of thing” seems to put a distinct chasm of “distance” between Bush and Robertson’s views. But Campbell, who quotes only the second half of Rumsfeld’s statement and none of McCormack’s, presents it as only an attempt to create distance which, by implication, may or may not have succeeded.

Campbell also claims that, in disavowing Robertson’s comments, the administration was wary of “upsetting” his religious supporters. This is pernicious and deceptive for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is no ambiguity or shading in the administration’s statements that would suggest it is concerned about the consequences of distancing itself from the comments. Campbell has presented no reason at all for him believing that such a motivation existed. It is mere speculation presented as fact.

But far worse is the implicit presumption that the “large Christian fundamentalist wing” itself embraces Robertson’s comments, and would therefore be upset with Bush for condemning them. What evidence is there of this? Again, Campbell has presented no reason for thinking that anyone, let alone the entire “Christian fundamentalist wing”, supports Robertson’s view. Such a conclusion can only have come from his own personal prejudices, which he is attempting (consciously or not) to plant into the minds of his readers.

This is not particularly overt bias, and it may not even be intentional (although I am doubtful about that). But this is precisely the way in which The Guardian so often spins its stories and subtly impresses its own prejudices into its audience. It is also the type of thing that editors exist to ferret out of news stories. At responsible news organizations, that is.

BTW, speaking of calls for assassinations, I seem to recall a certain London daily publishing an article which itself called for the assassination of a country's president. It has since deleted the article from its site, and replaced it with an apology from the author, who claims it was all just a hilarious joke, and with which the daily says it "associates" itself. Of course, its "association" with a disavowal of any call to assassinate President Bush might carry a bit more weight if it had not itself solicited readers' views on the burning issue of "Is it time to assassinate George Dubya Bush?" a year earlier (now also deleted, albeit sans apology.) Anyone remember which newspaper that might have been?


Blogger Simon Lazarus said...

Here's a thought: how about the next time a leftist says something foolish, the media report, "Today, a political ally of Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean said that..."

Now, of course this would be stretching things, but since they link Pat Robertson with Bush, it would only be fair.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see Scott - not to be overly superfluous to your rhetorical question - would that be the Guardian on 10/23 & 24/04 (see cached link at: - ......which occurred well before one of it's editors, the kind that are supposed to catch and cut that kind of "flippant, tasteless, ironic joke" that would lead to serious formal Federal charges being filed in the USA, one Albert Scardino, took his "Sassy" permanent leave of absence.

Would it have involved the Guardian's TV "Screen Burn” columnist, Charlie Brooker, calling forth former US assassins, al la Rev Bob Robertson, to assuage his vexation/frustration over Booosh's impending re-appointment?

Good God, even their TV reviewer is so chock full of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) that one can't even get a straight shot on tube fare. So typically twisted!

Wonder what’s his take on the Cindy Sheehan “Loony Left Camp Crawford” reality show, now in full bloom? Oh yea, perhaps something like, “Bush even failed to allow the grieving anti-war mom the proper opportunity to rant and rave in full blown BDS at him in front of the MSM at the first meeting he granted her (the same meeting she keeps forgetting she had, but failed to explode at Booosh in) – the low class lout!”

Now Rev Bob is known for some tactless, tasteless, teasing of the MSM w/ baited barbs (post 9/11 blame on the Liberals/the godless morally depraved; feminists appraisal; etc.) to boost his TV $ take from his faithful, but he's not known for killing his political adversaries- whilst Chavez is reported to have murdered a dozen of his - so far! And Rev Bob’s not reported for hobnobbing with Demo loving icons Castro/Sadham Hussein, and delving into WMD development schemes – again, Chavez is!

Yet who gets the Guardian's howl? Very predictable – so go figure!

No matter how dirty their own hands on this “snuff’em” issue - they just can't resist. Someone needs to invent a positive remedy for BDS – fast, and maybe guinea pig it on Camp Crawford with a crop duster, for starters! One hears the local cattle there are in dire distress from the relentless high pitched screeching, shrill voiced screaming, and sham mini-cross hammering, not to mention the ruckus caused by the hoard of MSM remote vans roaming the countryside! Please, where’s PETA when you really need them? Probably off pleading the plight of collaterally damaged camels in Iraq, no less. (Booosh lied - camels got fried)

Now there’s a topic worthy of the Guardian - if not crop dusting the LL/MSM in Texas for their own wellbeing!

Still laughing - as the Guardian’s monkey climbs higher and higher, revealing more and more of its own backside!


3:40 AM  

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