Tip of the Iceberg?

Wretchard, writing about CBS’s increasingly pathetic attempts to get out of the “kill zone”, wrote this:

The real catastrophe for CBS is that the Killian incident is probably not an isolated setback so much as proof that maneuvers which worked in the past can no longer be attempted with impunity.

Say that again slowly: “…maneuvers which worked in the past … .”

We see a major unit of the MSM, a purported “news” organization, willing to fabricate or employ manifestly false documents for the sole purpose of damaging a Republican candidate and aiding the Democratic Party in an election campaign. The “total ineptitude” explanation is looking less and less compelling as the total obviousness of these forgeries becomes clearer. CBS just wanted sufficient, facial plausibility to cover themselves when they went after Bush.

The question then becomes: Is this type of thing an isolated incident, a one time lapse? That is not very plausible. How much more of this has gone on in the past? How much actual coordination has occurred between the MSM and the Donk Party?

It appears that an entire, previously secret, chapter of 20th Century American History may yet remain to be written.

The mask is only torn, and the leprous, snarling face beneath is only partly revealed. We need to rip the mask off entirely.

A final thought — who would have standing to bring a lawsuit against CBS for this? Document production and sworn testimony would get much of the story out of the shadows.

Update: Jonathan wrote to me, in response to this post:

The events we’re seeing now are similar in significance to the 1994 elections. It’s an adjustment — the political and cultural balance just ratcheted a big notch our way, and it isn’t going to revert back to the way it was.

I started to respond by email, but decided to put it on here.

I very much HOPE that we are seeing something more like 1989, the disintegration of the Soviet Empire. The Left in this country only sustained itself after the 1960s due to anti-democratic coups, like hijacking the Federal Courts or staffing the federal bureaucracy with like-minded people, and by imposing an ideological monopoly by means of the media and the academic community and the think tanks and foundations. This monopoly was and is enforced by harassment and job discrimination and public vilification. But this system only works if it is leak proof. If people can only think in the categories you give them, then they cannot rebel. For example if you live in a world composed of two categories, “moderates” and “right wing extremists” life is easy for the so-called moderates, a/k/a the Left. But maintaining this mental hegemony is a constant struggle. That is why the lefty establishment freaks at even a small dissenting voice — a single blade of grass coming through the cement like Buckley’s National Review got intense attention and animosity. But most people don’t read intellectual journals. What Buckley did for the people who follow these things in the Sixties Rush and Fox and now the Net have done for millions of ordinary people. Now, we see increasingly desperate measures by the MSM to retain control. It is one thing to try to ignore Rush and Fox, pretend they are yappers and you are the “real” media. After all Rush and Fox are essentially peer competitors, doing more or less what you do.

But the Net is a monster of a different order. It is no longer dueling dinosaurs. It is now an old, tired, arrogant dinosaur against swarms of small, hungry, highly-motivated rats. The MSM has in the last few years increasingly abandoned any pretense of objectivity as they try to counteract the opposition while pretending to be the only legitimate voice. Even fifteen years ago, they would have gotten away with shit like these forged documents. The people disagreeing would be staying up all night at the Kinkos in Columbus, Indiana, sending a mimeographed newsletter to the handful of other right wing cranks they knew. The MSM would just all agree to report their lies as truth, to get the Democrat in, and that would be it. The monopoly would have held. Now everybody with an opinion is on the Net. The nutjobs are culled out by a competitive process, and reliable people are identified by the same process. The rats begin to demonstrate spontaneous, decentralized order. The rats then swarm onto and devour any lamed, limping brontosaurus that they come across.

To change the metaphor, the liberal news “gatekeepers” are still, pathetically, at their posts, but the walls are breached in a thousand places, and the peasants are conducting their transactions around them, ignoring the gates and the gatekeepers entirely. At some point the people who pay the gatekeepers will decide to do something else with their money. Let us hope that day comes soon.

Update II: Sandy P. commented ” I still think we’re going to see attempts to bring the blogosphere/net under gov’t. control.”

She is absolutely right. There is way too much triumphalism.

Howard Dean said he was going to send the Justice Department after Fox News, to the roar of his fans. He was serious. These people will not go down as easily as Gorbachev. Their world is ending and they are going to try to hurt the people who are doing it to them.

The blogosphere needs to start thinking about what the counter-attack is going to look like. Legal? Regulatory? Technological? Lawsuits against selected bloggers to bankrupt them and scare the others? Prosecutions against selected bloggers in Democrat-controlled states to silence them and scare the others?

We should start wargaming the bad guys’ next move. There will be a next move. Count on it.

Update III: Instapundit quotes an article from the Investor’s Business Daily:

“CBS’ bias made it vulnerable to a hoax that fit nicely with the network’s left-leaning culture ”

No. No. No.

CBS is not a “victim” of a hoax. CBS looked at that document and chose to go down this road. They chose to risk it. A ‘hoax” which is this transparent, which injures a third party, not the purported “hoaxee” renders the purported victim of the hoax culpable, too.

Will this be the MSM’s last line of defense: Isn’t is sad / that CBS was had / by some awful cad?

Oh, boo – farkin’ – hoo for CBS.

37 thoughts on “Tip of the Iceberg?”

  1. The people have standing in the court of public choice held regularly at polling places near you. Vote. Between elections don’t watch CBS Views. It’s all up to the people, just the way the system was designed. It wasn’t designed to be perfect, just self correcting, if people were wiling to put in the effort.

  2. Lex, this is starting to sound like a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. Maybe it sounded like a good idea after Hillary! said it – another example of the paucity of ideas on the left.

  3. Richard — that’s all fine but I’d like to get to the bottom of the facts here, about fraud which implicates the governance of the country, and merely voting for Bush or not watching CBS will do nothing to advance that. A court order to preserve documents and sworn deposition testimony would do a lot to advance that.

    Mitch — if there is a VLWC, let’s get it out in the daylight.

  4. Fraud in campaigning is nothing new. There is nothing illegal about it based on everything I’ve read over the last few days. It is not a legal problem it is a moral and political problem. It gets solved only at the ballot box.

    I suspect Jonathan is closer to the truth about what is happening. Incumbency is tantamount to life-time posession of office thanks to computer assisted redistricting. It is only when our “servants” retire that a competitive election is held. Thus, we are going to see ratchet elections until most of the default liberal baby boomers are out of office and we return to a responsible electorate and legislature. We may be getting near a tipping point where they realize they are in permanent minority and start opting for early retirement. But the number of senate races that are not competitive this year indicates that the moderate and conservative candidates are not yet ready to run in the numbers necessary to drive the stake into the heart of the liberals

    We see the same kind of idiotic behavior in the Presidential race. It won’t stop till they are no longer in control. This is the most powerful argument against longevity research. Imagine baby boomers living to 120.

  5. I still think we’re going to see attempts to bring the blogosphere/net under gov’t. control.

    The blogosphere severely damaged Bubba’s 2nd term, got Lott out, now bled CBS. The Incumbant Protection Act failed spectacularly. And we must thank the short-sightedness of the lefties for this, they gave us the rope to hang them.

    TPTB will not stand for this. This thing can take down a sitting pres or congressman.

  6. It strikes me that the particulars of this forgery are probably unique to this decade — the forgery was probably done by a staffer too young to ever have used a typewriter, they were accepted at CBS by a person too senior to ever have used a word processor (and probaboy still has all his documents produced by secretaries). Ten years ago, or ten years from now, this wouldn’t have been the case. This is like claiming you have an authentic Gutenberg bible when it has spiral binding and a Kinko’s cover.

    Of course ten years ago they were getting away with this kind fo stuff, while ten years from now they probably won’t be around.

  7. WRT couterattacks, that’s the beauty of the net. The current RIAA (another media oligarchy melting down) lawsuits against their customers can be seen as a model for future counterattacks by the mass media. They can sue a few thousand, but the other few million will keep going. They can spend millions on anti-piracy technology, but for every tech they have working on it, there’s a thousand hackers out there just itching to crack the code to claim bragging rights. Which leaves legislation, which boils down to the 1st admendment, and I don’t think they can win that one.

    I like how the left portray themselves as the rebels. But if you look at it in total, with the mass media, bureaucracy, PC police, etc on their side, it’s the right who are the true rebels.

  8. “They can sue a few thousand, but the other few million will keep going.”

    I don’t believe it. If even one prominent blogger were driven into personal bankruptcy, it would have a huge chilling effect.

  9. Yeah, that’s the maddening part of the legal system. They don’t have to win in court, just make it cost prohibitive to continue for their target. Even then, I have faith.

    Here’s a scenario, a prominent blogger writes about CBS, and gets served with a cease and desist letter. He has several options, stop, continue, or fight back among others.

    1. Stop. “The big bad media compelled me to stop, so I’m stopping.” He gets ridiculed for cowardice, other people pick up the fight. I’d be pissed off too and would probably pick up the fight. Repeat a thousand times, and after some time, it becomes cost prohibitive for CBS to continue having expensive lawyers go after each little flare up.

    2. Continue. CBS sues for damages. I would think there are plenty of lawyers out there wanting to make a name for themselves who would love to take up the case. The burden would fall on CBS to prove damages. But then again, this goes back to CBS not having to win in court to win outright. All they have to do is bog it down.

    3. Fight back. If I were targeted I would post what’s going on and make a circus out of it. I think this tactic has been used successfully on small scales around the net. Which goes back to the beauty of the net.

  10. In-cog, I don’t think we should take comfort from the RIAA lawsuits. My impression is that the recording industry, while it has failed to stop all copyright infractions, has succeeded in seriously chilling the downloading of music. The analogy isn’t perfect, since the RIAA targets people who can’t defend themselves, and many prominent bloggers would probably fight back effectively, but it does suggest that we shouldn’t be complacent.

    Blogs in aggregate are effective as an information-dissemination system because cost of entry is low. Threats of lawsuits, or of other legal or regulatory action that raises the risk (and hence the cost) of blogging, might drive most bloggers out of business. It just wouldn’t be worth the risk. Most of the bloggers left would represent institutions that know how to play the game. Blogs could become another conventional medium that dares not bite the hand that regulates it. That’s what the people who are now feeling the heat from blogs would like, anyway.

  11. Agreed, complacency kills. I think someone famous said something about liberty requiring eternal vigilance or something = )

  12. The government “geting control” of the internet smacks a bit of aluminium chapeaux. This is all protected speech. CBS could not afford to bring suit against anyone in terms of the PR impact. They are in a declining industry and they are going to start suing viewers? And can you imagine the legal dream team of internet attorneys who would handle the case pro bono? Can you see the third party boycott of advertisers? Nope. Won’t happen.

  13. Attempts by the government to try to control the web will be very difficult in face of the CDA First Amendment decision regarding the internet. The decision was drafted very broadly, and clearly was intended to establish a precedent.

    By a vote of 7-2, the SCOTA confirmed the Third Circuit Court decision, and in particular Judge Dalzell’s examination of the basic principles involved. Dalzell’s opinion is one for the ages, and is surprisingly accessible for non-lawyers. It’s well worth your while to read.

  14. “aluminium chapeaux” Wrong, Richard. Paranoids have enemies, too.

    If you think your speech is protected, you get to spend tens of thousands of dollars filing a motion to dismiss a libel suit or respond to whatever other legal attack is made against you. And you might lose your motion. Then you get to spend tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours on discovery, and maybe a motion for summary judgment, and maybe a trial. And then an appeal.

    Blogging just went from being a costless diversion to an expensive and risky business only undertaken by people who have the kind of insurance that the MSM carries for these kinds of suits.

    If the point of the action is to bleed you dry, or even just to fire a shot across the bow, then the point is served without regard to the merits of the action.

    You apparently aren’t creative enough to imagine how bad things can get, or how much harm can be done to you despite your parchment protection of “protected speech”. Don’t tell me I’m wearing an aluminum hat. I know what I’m talking about. Maybe I’ll get to represent someone who is suing you one day. Trust me, it will be very expensive for you.

  15. Lex, you’re a RAT!! Pretty good one too.

    I think your response scenarios are plausible, but like Incognito, I don’t think they would hold. There are simply too many “rats” around who would mobilize against it, and there is now a solid cultural foundation of lawyers and politicians who would fight it as well. It would look like King Kong on top of the E-state building. His “world was ending”, and he tried to hit those pesky little planes that were ending it. And he succeeded… with a couple. But the rest stayed in the fight.

    Big media will adapt or die. The tipping point, if it has not been reached, is damn close, and I think unavoidable.

  16. Andrew X — I am PROUD TO BE A RAT! Thanks.

    Good King Kong analogy.

    I think it is most probable that the good guys will eventually win, as you say. The question is, how ugly will the endgame get? Remember, King Kong wrecked a lot of stuff on his way down … .

    Richard — maybe I was too mean to you, but I am very sure I am not in tinfoil hat territory on this one and that quip from you ticked me off.

  17. Lex,

    No problem. I knew it was a bit cheeky, that’s why I only said “smacks”.

    Perhaps you’ll be able to advance in your career to Dewey Ballentine or Piper Rudnick. I can’t speak publicly about what I think of their attorneys as litigation is on going. Perhaps you’ll be at the DC event and we can swap experiences. After this experience however, I’d much rather be being sued by CBS over something I’d said or written on the net.

  18. I would dearly love to see such a lawsuit, although I can’t think what grounds the MSM would use.Lex, Glenn Reynolds, Eugene Volokh, etc would have a field day.

    Incidentally, do we have a link for Dean’s threat?

  19. The clip is out there, James. And not only him, w/in the last 2-3 months, a bunch of dem congressmen said the same things, there’s things they can do….

    I swear Damian Penny posted on his blog that the Canuck gov was thinking of controlling all ISPs.

    Let’s face it, AJ is available, but FoxNews is renegade.

  20. The Rathersaurus just looked upward at the huge Blog-meteor hurtling towards Earth. He wants to go back to his grazing-as-usual, but something tells him…It’s All About To Change.

    On the other hand, he may “discover” a mimeographed copy of a contract with CBS giving him another 20 years and tripling his salary. And full creative control.

  21. “there will be a next move. count on it”

    via DRM?
    amendments of McCain-Feingold to apply it to bloggers?
    the mind boggles with possibilities

  22. “the mind boggles with possibilities”

    Right. We need to start thinking of possible counter-attacks, and the ripostes to them. One problem with attacking the dinosaur, is he may start to notice you are there, not like it, and try to stomp on you. See, he doesn’t know it is time for him to be extinct.

  23. If I were the big media outlets, I would sue sites such as Drudge and bloggers to stop linking to my copyrighted material. I don’t know if there are precendents out there, but they could argue something along the lines of not having control over distribution. If you make it illegal to link, it would directly attack the mechanics of why the web and blogging is so successful.

  24. The irony of it!! A MEDIA site suing to stop someone from linking to it. I wonder what kind of a hit their site traffic numbers would take if you removed the linking avenue?

  25. In-cog-nito
    INAL, but doesn’t a link (essentially a footnote or bibliography entry) come quite safely within the fair use doctrine? Hijacking content or “framing” it as your own is a different thing, but I don’t see that happening.

    To my mind, the web is doing a good job of demolishing Rather in the most effective way: exposing him. He makes his living by persuading people to take him seriously. Once his audience starts laughing at him, either he or the audience will have to go. That’s probably what the suits are pondering now.

    I like to think I’m doing my bit for the cause by cracking jokes about it. Too bad Donald Duck is now MSM – we could use something like “Right in der Fuhrer’s Face” (gratuitous Nazi reference! Does that make me a lefty?!).

  26. “INAL, but doesn’t a link (essentially a footnote or bibliography entry) come quite safely within the fair use doctrine?”

    Absolutely Mitch, this is just brainstorming on my part. Remember that big media is the incumbent with deep resources. To win, they don’t have to win outright, they just have to fight to a bloody stalemate with as much carnage as possible. They just have to put the fear of God into their enemies. Copyright infringement gives them an edge and terms they know how to fight on.

    If I were CBS/big media, I would go after Drudge directly as the first major target. Drudge has become the go-to news source for the right. He more or less sets the pace in defining what’s news. That’s pretty powerful. Drudge is also essentially a link site. I would take every instance where Drudge makes the link title somewhat similar to what my content says, and argue that he is creating confusion in the market place. I would argue that people who don’t know better could possibly mistake the linked content as belonging to Drudge. Sometimes Drudge’s title is AP: blah blah blah, or Reuters: blah blah blah. Sometimes no. Again, I wouldn’t have to win, but just cause a chill effect. If I can put Drudge out of business by draining his resources, all the better.

  27. Andy,

    Yeah, I love irony. It’s like the left creating a “free speech zone” at their convention for protesters. Or them suing every which way to stop the Swift Vets.

  28. I don’t know, Incog. Linking cuts both ways. The MSM sites would lose a lot of traffic without direct links. If the NYT forced everyone to go through its website’s front page to access stories, few people would read them because it would be too much trouble. CBS is in a similar position or will be eventually. Besides, I think this issue is practically moot, because media sites that tried in the past to prevent direct linking only hurt themselves, traffic wise. It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out, but it may not do so in a way that any of us anticipates.

  29. You know, it’s impossible to read this post without also thinking about Gore’s “digital brownshirts” comment, and Evan Thomas’ confession that the MSM partisanship is worth 15 points to the D’s.

  30. Well, googling for “gennifer flowers don hewitt” gives you a hint.

    In related news, Don Hewitt, the creator of the CBS television news magazine “60 Minutes” will receive the 2004 Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism.

  31. Jonathan, agreed they’re shooting themselves in the foot to a point, along with the bad publicity generated. But I think that the internet are still loss leaders for Big Media. Their bread and butter is still through selling TV advertising or print advertising. If the internet went away tomorrow, they would still be in business. I would even venture to say they would love it if the internet went away tomorrow. I really wonder who goes to say CBS.com or NBC.com for news, it’s garbage. Their websites are like third wheels on a bike. I think a big reason they have sites is because everyone has sites. That’s why they’re dinosaurs. So if my business can live without the internet, but my enemy cannot. I would directly go after their bread and butter to put them out of business.

  32. “So if my business can live without the internet, but my enemy cannot. I would directly go after their bread and butter to put them out of business.”

    Nito thinks like me. The counter-attack will come eventually.

  33. Wargaming this, I wonder how much denial of service attacks cost? If you’re willing to forge documents, I doubt a bit of electronic warfare will outrage your sensibilities.

  34. The internet is much bigger than all the traditional media companies in the world put together. If they tried to shut it down, they’d get squashed like bugs.

    They’d have to be much more sneaky than that, but I don’t think they have the intelligence to do anything remotely effective.

    Now, lawsuits, sure, you can expect bloggers to get sued. But if they think the response to Rathergate was loud, the response to such an action will fry their brains.

    Not to say it won’t happen – it will. Just that unless the blogger screwed up in a major way and flat-out deserves to be sued, the mainstream media will lose, again, badly.

  35. And remember, the blogosphere is just one tiny part of the internet, and the internet provides an infinite number of ways to share information whether or not it is via something you would recognise as a “blog”.

    Blogs don’t matter, really. It’s the internet that matters.

  36. Taking a seriousness break from my normal frivolity, I’m working up a piece (another one that may or may not get finished) on Dr. Norman L. Johnson and what he calls “symbiotic intelligence” and the related topic of self-organizing systems, eventually finding the optimum. Bottom line: the Internet is too robust to be put out of business. It will find its own solutions by exploring multiple strategies. And BTW, Johnson’s work partially explains how Rather got killed, gutted, plucked, cooked, and eaten so quickly. LINK

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