Media Disorientation is Complete

There is a Southern Baptist gentleman, who has corresponded with me for almost as long as this blog has been running. Early on, he would read a news report about the Pope, or the Vatican and he’d shoot me an email that amounted to an outraged “what is [the pope] or [the curia] doing! This is outrageous!”

And I would write back and tell him, “wait four days or so, and when the story is fading, you’ll see a correction or a clarification, that tells you the truth. But it won’t be on page one, and the broadcasts won’t mention it, so you’ll have to really look for it.”

After seeing that exact scenario play out enough times, he stopped sending me outraged emails when a new story broke. Instead he would send a note, “I know, I know…wait four days.” Sometimes, he would send me the clarifications he later found.

He learned that when sensational headlines arose having to do with Vatican or papal pronouncements, that it was best to keep grains of salt nearby.

Interestingly, the press does the exact same thing, but in the inverse, when it comes to Barack Obama. The headlines having to do with anything touching the president or his party (with one profoundly heartening recent exception) simply blare the official line, which is often “that thing you just saw wasn’t what you saw” and then — after the first thrust of a story has died down, or a shiny scandal has been generated to divert attention and energy elsewhere — the corrections and clarifications come, but not on the frontpage, not on the broadcasts.

Kinda like this: Obama official: Benghazi was a terrorist attack:

The Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was in fact “a terrorist attack” and the U.S. government has indications that members of al Qaeda were directly involved, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday morning.

“I would say yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” Matt Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said Wednesday at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, in response to questioning from Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) about the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
[. . .]
“We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates; in particular, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” he said.

The U.S. government just isn’t sure yet whether the terrorist attack was pre-planned or whether it was an example of terrorists taking advantage of protests against an anti-Islam film, Olsen said.

“It appears that individuals who were certainly well-armed seized on the opportunity presented as the events unfolded that evening and into the morning hours of September 12th. We do know that a number of militants in the area, as I mentioned, are well-armed and maintain those arms. What we don’t have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning or coordination for this attack,” he said.

His statements go further than those of the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who said last week that the protests in Cairo and Benghazi were a reaction to the video and not a pre-planned attack. Today, Carney didn’t repeat the assertion that the video was solely to blame, but he said again that there is no evidence the Benghazi attack was pre-planned.

So, now that the confirmed September 11 terror attacks and the government’s first (and second and third) reactions to them are already circling the memory hole — now that a sufficiently energetic “scandal” has been established to draw your attention somewhere else — yes, you can find reports that the Benghazi attack was an actual attack (an Act of War, really as our Ambassador was murdered) and not a spontaneous mood of rage in response to an ugly, and terribly made film.

Let that sink in for a moment. The Pope or the Vatican will deliver a message: the press spins it, and it takes a few days for the reality to bubble to the (page 14, section C) surface.

The Obama administration, or its party, will deliver a message: the press repeats it as-delivered, and it takes a few days for the reality to bubble to the (page 36, section D) surface.

Kind of an inverted practice, totally upside down. Unreal.

My correspondent would call it “diabolical disorientation,” but he’s always saying stuff like that. Heh.

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About Elizabeth Scalia