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July 13, 2004

More on Josh Marshall's Breathless Fakery as It Develops

One of my biggest beefs with hyperpartisan hack Joshua Micah Chesterton Taggart Claude-Patrice Herkemer Marshall is the way he breathlessly promises he'll have some amazing scoop... later. Always later.

Never now.

When?

Maybe later.

Later today or later this week?

I don't know. Sometime later.

Soon later or later later?

Later. Be sure to check back regularly.

Zonitic has done a Man's Job and tracked down a whole series of Joshua Micah Etcetera Marshall's claims about the the next big story he's about to break wide open...

... and finds that he's either the world's biggest dupe or else simply a bit of a huckster. How can he keep promising that he "knows" this or that, and that it will be breaking soon/tomorrow/next Shivouis, and yet so infrequently actually deliver?

And furthermore-- how can he never apologize or retract his previous claims?

Let me say that during the height of impeachment fever, conservatives were always thinking that there was going to be this or that huge scandal about to break wide open. Quite frankly, Drudge did an awful lot of expectations-raising... but even Drudge never actually committed himself to the extent Marshall does several times per month, sometimes declaring that he actually "knows" something and predicting his secret knowledge would be revealed momentarily.

Unlike Drudge -- who famously ends every snippet with breathless, but very vague, sign-outs like a DEVELOPING or IMPACTING or DEVELOPING HARD WITH FURIOUS IMPACT -- Marshall has made representations about his own personal knowledge of important facts. See the latest on Plamegate.

Furthermore, Drudge is, self-admittedly, a bit of a PT Barnum-type character. But Marshall has pretenses of being part of the respectable media, and playing by their rules. He's better than us, see-- he's almost a real journalist.

Do real journalists hype these sorts of breathless cliffhangers on a regular basis, and then never correct their errors or at least explain why their latest Watergate never quite materialized?

How many times is Marshall allowed to do this before we can begin calling him an outright fabulist?

If not a fabulist, he's the blogosphere's pre-eminent source for vapornews. Vapornews is just like vaporware-- long anticipated, much hyped. And yet never quite reaching the marketplace.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, who I occasionally read so that you don't have to.

Never Waste a Good Premise Update! Check out Joshua Micah Etcetera Marshall's explanation as to why he can't tell you right now all this amazing information he has at his fingertips:


I cannot begin to describe how much I would like to say more than that. And at some later point in some later post I will do my best to explain the hows and whys of why I can't. But, for the moment, I can't.

Let me, however, offer a hypothetical that might help make sense of all this.

Let's say that certain individuals or organizations are responsible for some rather unfortunate misdeeds. And let's further postulate that such hypothetical individuals or organizations find out that some folks are on to them, that a story is in the works -- perhaps more than one -- and that it's coming right at them. Those individuals or organizations -- as shorthand, let's call them 'the bad actors' -- might well start trying to fight back, trying to gin up an alternative storyline to exculpate themselves and inculpate others. If that story made its way into the news, at a minimum, it might help the bad actors muddy the waters for when the real story comes out. You can see how such a regrettable turn of events might come to pass.

This is of course only a hypothetical. But I thought it might provide a clarifying context.

A bit labrynthine and murky, yes-yes? Could mean anything. Probably means exactly nothing.

Well, it just so happens that I, too, happen to have an incredible scoop that will pop all of your eyes out of your skulls. Let's just say that I have it on good authority -- good authority; Johnny Coldcuts type authority -- that a certain high-level Iraqi prisoner is about to tell all about Saddam's WMD program, and that famous Prague meeting between the IIS and Mohammad Atta, and that his statements will surprise and delight you.

Now, I can't say more than that right now. Believe me, I'd love to say more. And at some future time I'd dearly like to explain how I've come into this bombshell information, giving you a whole tick-tock of my intrepid skulduggery in Baghdad.

But, for the moment, I can't.

Let me, however, offer a hypothetical which might help make sense of this all.

Let's say, hypothetically, that your wife one evening informs you that she wants you to purchase her a new duck. It's not important why she feels she needs this new duck; let's just say that either your current duck is constantly in the shop for repairs, or else your wife doesn't find it stylish or sporty enough, and seeks an expensive new duck which will demonstrate a level of sophistication and status that your current duck does not.

And let's further postulate that you take your current duck and jump into your El Camino half-truck and drive to your local duck dealership. And as you're driving, your duck says to you --

The duck talks. I mentioned that, right? The entire hypothetical depends on that. I guess I should have made that clear from the get-go.

Anyway: Talking duck. Accept it.

So your duck says to you, "Hey, why don't we cruise by the railroad tracks?," which is where the hookers hang out. This is not unexpected behavior from your duck, since he's a notorious ass-chaser.

And you tell him, no, you don't have time for that, and the duck wants to know where you're going then, but you can't tell him, because he'll get upset and you think you might cry when you tell your duck you're going to trade him in, and he'll probably wind up being owned by some desperately poor banana-picker down in the Dominican Republic, which would really be a blow to the duck, since he doesn't speak Spanish and is furthermore virulently racist against Domincans.

And so you pull your car up to the duck-dealership, and you wipe away a tear as you think about the upcoming confrontation, but your duck doesn't notice where you are, or the rows of gleaming new ducks on sale in the lot, because he's got his head out the window trying to pick up a chubby fifteen-year-old Puerto Rican girl wearing a tube-top and a microskirt reading Muy Caliente by telling her he's a "roving photographer" for Penthouse.

And at that moment, you decide that damnit, you like this duck, and you turn the wheel of your car hard and speed home before your duck has a chance to see the duck dealership (but after he's gotten la nina to show him her bra).

And, hypothetically, let's say you get home, and proudly carry your duck into your house, ready for a big argument with your wife, but when you get into the bedroom, you see her in there getting banged up the squeaker by Emmy-award winning actor Tony Shaloub of Monk.

And that doesn't bother you so much, because you've always been a big fan of Mr. Shaloub's work, but what really sticks in your craw is that your duck then asks, "Mind if I join in?"

But that's not what really bothers you, because you've come to expect that from him; no, what really bothers you is that, in response to your duck's request for a bestiality-flavored menage a trois, your wife shoots your duck an icy look and says "I told you last night -- it's over between us, Geoffrey."

Oh, the duck's name is Geoffrey. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier, too.

Anyway, to complete the analogy: At that moment you realize your entire marriage is a lie. And, also, that your wife has been fucking a waterfowl.

As that hypothetical demonstrates, then, informing you any more about my big Iraq WMD tip would cause a whole chain of regrettable consequences.

This is of course only a hypothetical. But I thought it might provide a clarifying context.

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posted by Ace at 02:41 AM

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