Friday, March 26, 2010

Crazy of Republicans to accuse Democrats of inciting political violence? Crazy like a Fox.

What's going on? Why is Minority Whip Eric Cantor accusing Democrats of fomenting political violence, when the real incendiary rhetoric lately has been coming from Tea Party activists and their Republican allies? It's not just a childish finger-pointing lie. It's classic disinformation. Billmon clarifies the difference (via Tom Bozzo).
The difference between disinformation and just plain lying is in the scope of the enterprise: A lie is intended to conceal a specific truth (e.g. "I did not have sex with that woman"). Disinformation, on the other hand, is aimed at constructing an entire alternative reality -- one in which the truth can find no foothold because it conflicts just not with a specific falsehood, but with the entire fabric of the false reality that has been created. It puts the "big" in big lie, in other words.
Billmon deconstructs the technique and points out that it's been pretty effective in muddying the media waters.
The idea is to string those phrases together in such a way as to verbally associate the Democrats with the very same conduct the Republicans are actually guilty of (i.e. incitement) without ever making the accusation directly.

What makes this particular example so cunning are the specific words used. Liberals complain that conservative protestors have worn guns to teabagger rallies, or waved signs warning that if "Brown can’t stop this, a Browning can"? Well, now the Democrats also have been accused of using "weapons." Has the RNC stepped over the line by showing Nancy Pelosi burning in a sea of fire? Well, the Democrats are also "fanning the flames." Did the GOP House members encourage their followers to think of themselves as a revolutionary army by waving "Don’t Tread on Me" signs from the House balcony during the HCR vote? Well, the Democrats are also "ratcheting up the rhetoric."
Straight out of the old Karl Rove playbook. It's crazy, all right -- but crazy like a Fox (double meaning intentional).

Oh, and that bullet that somebody supposedly fired into Cantor's office? It wasn't actually his office, just the same building, and in any case, it wasn't aimed at the building but was a spent round that somebody had fired into the sky and which broke a window in the building on the way down. But the qualifiers got dropped from a lot of stories, and the impression was allowed to linger that somebody -- no doubt incited by the alleged violent Democratic rhetoric -- took a shot at Cantor's office.

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