Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Harry Truman said that “Secrecy and a free, democratic government don’t mix.” Oh well, he’s just some dead Democrat. What does he know? What the Bushies know is that secrets, apart from often being necessary, give their holder power. Under the heading of necessary secrets are those that Cheney refused to disclose about his Energy Commission. Can’t have Americans confirming what they already know about how energy policy was formed, can we?

And if any of those guilty secrets do come out, the White House smears the truthteller by lying and hiding behind a veil of anonymity--a powerful form of secrecy. Krugman’s April 2 column details the complicity of CNN in the administration’s sneaky behavior. For example, Krugman reported that Letterman showed a video of a Bush speech with a shot of a small boy yawning. (Too much truth! Too much truth! We can’t tolerate laughter.) So CNN reported: “We’re being told by the White House that the kid, as funny as he was, was edited into that video.” Letterman was not amused by the accusation and said the kid was absolutely there during the speech. So CNN backed down but claimed that Ms. Kagan “misspoke.” CNN pretended that the White House wasn’t behind the accusation. Oh? “So who was?" Krugman wants to know. "And if the claim didn’t come from the White House, why did CNN run it without checking?”

It was just a minor incident, but as the song goes, “Little things mean a lot”, especially when they form a consistent pattern of smear, then retreat if the smear backfires. Their smears of Clarke are even more convoluted--and entertaining, if you like black humor. That's the modus operandi: say whatever you think you can get away with through your spokesliars at CNN. And if somebody calls you on it, back off little by little. The public will lose interest before it all gets straightened out.

More tomorrow on secrecy.

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