Saturday, February 21, 2015

On answers and demanding them

It's not entirely coincidence that these were the second and third top stories at your Fair 'n' Balanced Homepage on Saturday morning. Both of them shine a light on the achievements of our friends in what's now known as "strategic communication."

First, it's reasonable to conclude that the vicious loonies of the Islamic State movement have adapted the lessons of 1970s-style "siege and barricade" terrorism to the age of interactive media. They don't even have to go to the Fox News budget meeting. They can get a story on the front page whenever they want.* A little skepticism about the veracity of any particular bit of propaganda is a good idea; if Fox wants to raise such concerns in the same place it usually does ISIS' bidding, good for Fox.

That suggests, of course, that when someone on your own side who knows exactly how to land on your front page pushes the button, your first reaction should probably be: Hmm. I wonder why he wants a chunk of my front page for this bit of information. Not, in other words, "Top Republican senators Friday demanded answers." Aside from conflating "we" with "top Republican senators," which is delightfully honest in its own little way, Fox is missing a chance to learn from its mistakes. When somebody just cold-ass beats you to the basket, it's probably better to ask why you got beaten, rather than to suggest that the other guy is a traitor for exploiting your friendly gullibility.

Because it's Saturday, and because realism and deranged exceptionalism will ever be at odds, here's your weekend Hans Morgenthau quote:

The first lesson the student of international politics must learn and never forget is that the complexities of international affairs make simple solutions and trustworthy predictions impossible. Here the scholar and the charlatan part company.

Charles Krauthammer, George Will --- call your office

* If you're reconsidering the degree to which you should help them in that effort, you should.

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