....LMB: "(Mud) Slings and (Bullshit) Arrows"....

April 27, 2004

Man, I am really getting pissed at the Republican smear machine. Well, let me focus. I hate Republican smear monger Karen Hughes.

Hughes is a long-time employee of President W, going back to the days when he was just Governor W, and even before that. Hughes was W's top aide in the White House, before quitting to spend more time with her family. But now she's back to help with W's election campaign.

Before getting into the specifics of why I hate Karen, let's examine this anecdote about Hughes from smirky conservative Tucker Carlson. Me and Tucker aren't likely to agree on much, but this seems pretty nail-on-the-headish:

Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane.

I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness.

(emphasis mine)

Wow. Lying to someone's face even when they know that you know they're lying. And she's one of Bush's key spokespeople.

It's gonna be a long campaign.

I haven't had too much exposure to Hughes, but her style seems to be one of plain-spoken rhetoric that deliberately confuses, distorts, and makes erroneous connections between non-related things. For example, the first time I heard her speak for the 2004 Bush campaign was on NPR about a month ago, in a small pickup truck as a parking lot security guard tried to help me find my stolen car. Hughes was talking about the recent testimony of Richard Clarke. Hughes said something to the effect of "it's really unfortunate that Richard Clarke is giving the appearance that America is to blame for 9/11, when the only people responsible for the attacks are Al Qaeda."

She massively distorted Clarke's message (obviously with full knowledge that he did not say anything close to what she claimed he said) so that she could take the only real rebuttal ("Bush is not incompetent") into an innapropriate, but much more powerful one ("Al Qaeda is bad").

When I heard her say this, for a few seconds, it seemed to me that finding my missing car was nowhere near as important as convincing the elderly Jamaican security guard next to me that Karen Hughes was a miserable lying bitch. But that feeling faded as we continued to search for the car that was already being joyridden miles away.

The next smear I heard from Hughes highlighted another aspect of her strategy: phrasing things in terms of vague anxiety: "it is unfortunate that...", "it find it distressing that...", "I am very troubled by..." This way, she doesn't have to actually explain her smears, all she needs to say is that Rumor X about Politician Y causes her discomfort in some way.

Like when she says that "I remember watching Senator Kerry, back when he was against the [Vietnam] war, when he came home, and I was very troubled by the kind of allegations that he hurled against his fellow veterans..."

First of all, I don't believe her. I don't believe that she actually remembers seeing Kerry speak out in the early 1970s. It really is amazing how Kerry has been transformed from "some guy in the Senate" to "leader of the anti-war movement" in a matter of months. He was one of thousands of people involved in the movement at the time, and now everybody seems to be conveniently remembering him as a major player.

Second, you see how this rhetorical device allows her to insinuate that Kerry is a terrible human without having to actually explain why. In this particular instance, she does elaborate a tiny bit and say that Kerry's allegations were "irresponsible", but she doesn't really bother to explain how or why they were irresponsible.

Then, you had Hughes bringing up some really irrelevant (and apparently fabricated) shit to again insinuate that Kerry is of poor moral fiber. In a symbolic gesture back in the 70s, Kerry took some of the medals he'd been awarded during the war, threw them at the Capitol building, and left them there. Hughes, apparently not realizing that soldiers use the terms "ribbons" and "medals" interchangably, insinuates that Kerry only threw his "ribbons", while keeping his medals, thus proving that he's a big hypocrite. Actually, her exact words were "I think that's very revealing." Revealing of what? Don't ask Karen, her work here is done.

Then, finally we get Karen's most outrageous spin job about the recent pro-choice rally in Washington DC.

it's always an issue. And I frankly think it's changing somewhat. I think after September 11th the American people are valuing life more and realizing that we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life...

And I think those are the kind of policies that the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy, and really the fundamental difference between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life. It's the founding conviction of our country, that we're endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately our enemies in the terror network, as we're seeing repeatedly in the headlines these days, don't value any life, not even the innocent and not even their own.

Yes, you heard right, abortion is terrorism. Well, she doesn't say it explicitly, she just leaves a bunch of dots, connects a few of em, let's your brain finish the picture.

A few bloggers bemoaned the lack of press coverage that this foul statement was getting. But really, it's getting the coverage it deserves. Karren Hughes should receive no media coverage whatsoever. She's a paid deceiver with an agenda, and talking to her does not get the public any closer to the truth. Why waste any time on her?

Posted by Jake at 11:50 PM | TrackBack (0)

Is it really un-feminist to call another woman a bitch? Because, really, how else to describe Karen Hughes?

I haven't felt the need to scream all day and into the night for a very long time. But when I read her comments, it all came back. Jon Stewart covered it masterfully on the Daily Show - If he hadn't, I think I might have gone on that screaming binge.

Off to go hide with Osama now.

Posted by: Denise at April 28, 2004 11:39 AM

Is it really un-feminist to call another woman a bitch? Because, really, how else to describe Karen Hughes?

I haven't felt the need to scream all day and into the night for a very long time. But when I read her comments, it all came back. Jon Stewart covered it masterfully on the Daily Show - If he hadn't, I think I might have gone on that screaming binge.

Off to go hide with Osama now.

Posted by: Denise at April 28, 2004 11:39 AM

We really don't have anything better to do in this administration than push an anti-abortion idealism across by equating it with support of terrorism.

Oh, yeah, I forgot that Bush also wants to mandate high-speed Internet access for everyone in the next couple of years. But hey, why would we worry about the fact that teachers pay for 99% of all of the school supplies in New York City when we can all have great Internet access at home. LAN gaming here we come!

Posted by: Tom at April 28, 2004 01:52 PM

Oddly enough, I almost wish that Hughes won't apologize so this can continue to be an issue. If she comes up with some bullshit apology-esque statement then we kinda hafta drop it, but defiance would be golden. That is, if anyone in power on the left had a clue how to exploit it.

Posted by: carla at April 29, 2004 12:27 PM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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