Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Conservative Blog Purposely Misleads Readers About Democrat's View On Hezbollah, Then Defends The Distortion

Conservative blogs and even the Washington Times have rampantly spread a purposely misleading quote from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), following an original post Monday on the popular conservative blog Powerline.

Powerline used an edited audio clip, and accompanying edited transcript, of a Dingell interview with a Detroit television station, for its post, “Dingell: What’s Wrong With Hezbollah.”

Compare and contrast:

POWERLINE: Asked, “You’re not against Hezbollah?” Dingell answers, “No…”


DINGELL: Well, we don’t, first of all, I don’t take sides for or against Hezbollah or for or against Israel.

ANCHOR: You’re not against Hezbollah?

DINGELL: No, I happen to be—I happen to be against violence, I think the United States has to bring resolution to this matter. Now, I condemn Hezbollah as does everybody else, for the violence, but I think if we’ve got to talk to them and if we don’t — if we don’t get ourselves in a position where we can talk to both sides and bring both sides together, the killing and the blood let is going to continue.

Oh, those crafty people at Powerline, with their crafty use of elipsis.

In an update posted yesterday, Powerline blogger John Hinderaker said: "The excerpt was emailed to me by a reader; I considered the possibility that it might be misleading because of something that came before or after. I concluded, however, that Dingell had plainly declared himself neutral between the state of Israel and the terrorist group Hezbollah, and that nothing that preceded or followed could change that disgusting fact."


Let me point out that I don't agree with Dingell's point that the U.S. be neutral as it tries to broker a lasting peace between Israel and Hezbollah. As Hinderaker suggests, that would be like being neutral when negotiating "between a murderer and the murderer's intended victim."

Any role the U.S. plays has to start with the belief that terrorism is wrong, and that Israel has an obligation to defend itself against such terrorism.

But just because I disagree with Dingell doesn't change the fact that the folks at Powerline went out of their way to truncate his answer to give the impression that he actually supported Hezbollah. In fact, Dingell was a co-sponsor of legislation urging the European Union to declare Hezbollah a terrorist group.

By manipulating Dingell's actual words, Powerline weakened its argument. No one is denying Powerline the right to be partisan or pro-Republican. But when arguments rely on purposeful distortions, it just shows how desperate some conservatives are to fight the left.

JABBS has a clear partisan bias, too. But I go out of my way to provide readers with links to quotes, or other attribution, to defend the facts I use to build my arguments. Obviously, people are going to disagree with JABBS' posts. Hopefully, none of JABBS' posts rely on purposeful distortions of actual quotes.


The Dingell story is not an isolated example within the "conservative media." Fact-challenged -- or in this case, purposely distorted -- stories pop up among the conservative blogs, and then make their way into the conservative media, affecting voters.

Last week, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) repeated a fiction on Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor -- that Santorum's opponent, Bob Casey Jr., had been endorsed by Arab television network Al Jazeera. In fact, it was a web site run by a Georgia college professor, Al Jazeerah, that had posted a commentary asking voters to support Casey.

O'Reilly never corrected the mistake. Santorum's camp said it would not apologize.

Last month, JABBS noted that Rush Limbaugh had made up science in order to knock the Al Gore documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Back in June, Republicans falsely accused Democrats for proposing a "cut and run" policy for Iraq, even though they knew that the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had briefed the administration on a similar plan. The Republican characterization was repeated by the media, no questions asked.

How weak is an argument when it is backed by lies or distortions? Why not just supply the facts, and let the voters decide for themselves?


Blogger Luke said...

Most people who try to influence the population in general and voters specifically view them as weak minded, and lazy. That is, they believe if they can present a semi believable picture or ad, they feel that the voters will simply and docily follow along rather then do some due diligence and make up their own minds.

Sad, but true.

Also a sad fact, I feel that many in the voting population of our country fit right into that group of lazy, weak-minded people. Why else would most of the population allow themselves to be thrown into a war in Iraq on the premise that Saddam had something to do with Al Queda?

1:16 PM  

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