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There are many techniques to turn news into propaganda, and Keith Olbermann knows them all. Friday night's Hour of Spin provided an example so typical, and so deceptively elegant, that the credulous viewer (Countdown's stock in trade) no doubt swallowed it whole, oblivious to the disinformation tactics used by Herr Olbermann. They're not new, as those old enough to remember The Third Reich can attest, but even they didn't deploy them with Keith Oralmann's ruthless virtuosity.
The purpose was, of course, to smear a Republican: John McCain. And Olby was in top form. Here is, verbatim and in its entirety, what he had to say about a fund-raising email from the McCain camp:
The Senator meantime continued to try to have it both ways, refusing to take any questions about the story while campaigning at Indianapolis, while at the same time continuing to try to raise money based on the Times report with his campaign's most successful fund-raising email to date. It read in part: Objective observers are viewing this article exactly as they should: as a sleazy smear attack from a liberal newspaper against the conservative Republican front-runner. Sean Hannity said, after reading the article three times, etcetera. Washington attorney Bob Bennett, who was the Democrat council during the Keating investigation said, etcetera. "Objective observer" Bob Bennett is McCain's attorney. "Objective observer Sean Hannity is: Sean Hannity."
The first thing clear-headed readers will note is that Edward R Olbermann stripped out all the quotes from Hannity and Bennett, replacing the substance with a generic "etcetera". These quotes were just a few words. Why take them out? So as not to allow the other side of the issue to be heard. Plus the dismissive use of "etcetera" immediately marginalizes any comments they made as not even worth hearing. Keith Olbermann, gate-keeper of the nation's free flow of information!
But there's more. Note the sarcastic use of "objective observer" to describe Bennett and Hannity. This is archetypical Bathtub Boy humor, and it works with his gullible lemmings because Bennett and Hannity do have dogs in this hunt. (Of course so does Olbermann, but he is exempt from the laws of OlbyPlanet.) Yet there's something else Olbermann's dupes don't know, because he didn't tell them about it: the missing sentences, stripped from that paragraph by Merkle. To be aware of that you'd have to read the original email, and the full, undoctored paragraph:
Objective observers are viewing this article exactly as they should - as a sleazy smear attack from a liberal newspaper against the conservative Republican frontrunner. Sean Hannity said, after reading the article three times, "It was so full of innuendo and so lacking of fact, and so involved in smear, I came to the conclusion that the goal here was to bring up a 20-year-old scandal." Washington attorney Bob Bennett, who was the Democrat counsel during the Keating investigation, said, "This is a real hit job." Joe Scarborough called the allegations "outrageous." Even pundit Alan Colmes--not known for his conservative leanings--concludes "this is a non-story."
So one of the email's "objective observers" was a liberal: Alan Colmes. This poses a problem. People might actually consider him "objective", and that would ruin Olby's snarky joke. So poor Mr Colmes got erased.
Even worse, the email quotes Joe Scarborough! The guy "Man on Fan" Olbermann chit-chats with during election night coverage. And--worst of all--he works for A-Mess-NBC, Krazy Keith's corporate masters. KO can't very well make a sarcastic crack about Scarborough's objectivity, let alone allow Joe's comments to be heard. What's a discredited baseball card collector to do? Simple: just as with Alan Colmes, strip all mention of Scarborough from the email. Presto! He becomes a non-person. And the propaganda flows.
So the operation was a success. Monkeymann was able to misrepresent the contents of an email, the arguments stated therein, the ideological diversity of the people quoted, and even whom they worked for. All made possible by a carefully targeted and deployed lie of omission.
Keith Olbermann, the next Edward R Murrow? More like the next Joseph Goebbels.