It’s one thing when an obviously deluded shill suggests that Americans are stupid because they disagree with him as reported by NewsBusters Saturday. However, it is quite another thing when the largest wire service in the country does it.
Yet, that’s exactly what transpired when the Associated Press published a report Sunday evening entitled “Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD”: “Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.”
Much like CNN’s Jack Cafferty the day before, AP didn’t offer the possibility that many of these believers feel Saddam moved his weapons to Syria or elsewhere before the invasion began. Such was certainly not on the mind of AP writer Charles J. Hanley, who, instead, wanted to make the case that Americans are just deluding themselves: “People tend to become ‘independent of reality’ in these circumstances, says opinion analyst Steven Kull.”
Fascinating. So, 50 percent of the country is “independent of reality.” Isn’t that a marvelous thing for America’s largest wire service to report? But that was just the beginning:
"I'm flabbergasted," said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.
"This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence," Massing said.
What is causing this delusion? Well, as you would imagine, Republicans were the primary culprit:
Timing may explain some of the poll result. Two weeks before the survey, two Republican lawmakers, Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) and Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra (news, bio, voting record), released an intelligence report in Washington saying 500 chemical munitions had been collected in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
"I think the Harris Poll was measuring people's surprise at hearing this after being told for so long there were no WMD in the country," said Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware.
Next up to blame for America’s stupidity…Fox News:
“Our top story tonight, the nation abuzz today ..." was how Fox News led its report on the old, stray shells. Talk-radio hosts and their callers seized on it. Feedback to blogs grew intense. "Americans are waking up from a distorted reality," read one posting.
Of course, the majority of the deluded are – drum roll, please – Republicans: “'For some it almost becomes independent of reality and becomes very partisan.’ The WMD believers are heavily Republican, polls show.”
Because they watch…Fox News:
"It is easy to see what is accepted as truth rapidly morph from one representation to another," he said in an e-mail. "It would be a shame if one effect of the power of the Internet was to undermine any commonly agreed set of facts."
The creative "morphing" goes on.
As Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas battled in Lebanon on July 21, a Fox News segment suggested, with no evidence, yet another destination for the supposed doomsday arms.
"ARE SADDAM HUSSEIN'S WMDS NOW IN HEZBOLLAH'S HANDS?" asked the headline, lingering for long minutes on TV screens in a million American homes.
So let’s get this straight: Early Sunday morning, a major wire service admitted that one of its photographers intentionally doctored a photograph to make the devastation in Beirut, Lebanon, look worse than it is (as reported by NewsBuster Tom Blumer); hours later, another major wire service said that most of us are stupid.
Does anyone see a connection?