You gotta have Feith

Thank god the DoD jumped in and trounced Stephen Hayes much-hyped "Case Closed" article in the Weekly Standard, lending legitimacy to a complicated debunking job. Josh Marshall has details on why Hayes' story isn't all its cracked up to be.

I think this episode presages something that Democrats have to get ready for, the way they weren't ready recently when a single quarter of good growth was widely hailed as vindicating all of Bush's economic plan. Liberal voices have been having a good run as of late (relatively, of course)--the deterioration of Iraq has been keeping voices critical of the administration in the news. But the media is still fickle, the disinformation machine of the right is relentless, and I think we are going to see an increasing number of losing exchanges as the right regroups.

This Hayes story is a perfect example. The truth: an appendix of classified, unsubstantiated intelligence nuggets in a report from the very guy who has been a poster-child for intelligence gone bad is republished with no context and no verification from the people who are paid to be the voice of discerning judgement about these things. What actually happens: It's technically intelligence, it technically paints a compromising picture, its packaged as a window on the truth that lies beyond the liberal fog, and it gets repeated, instantaneously, in about a zillion right wing outlets with a trimphant air of undeniable certainty. Liberal pundits can earnestly dissect the article and prove its fraudulence, but the resounding impression is "Whoa, turns out there was no doubt whatsoever that Saddam was deep in bed with bin Laden, and if we hadn't fought the war, Saddam would be buying them all more plane tickets right now."

By flooding the market with enough disinformation, all credibility is distorted, all stories have equal sides, and it becomes impossible for the good arguments to ever really do away with the bad.

Another reason why this campaign is going to be all about information and who controls it. The 'wingers are going to come on with endless stunts like this, and it will be all the Democratic challenger can do to keep the right story in the public eye.


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