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January 23, 2008

Hit Piece on Fred?

Over at an update at Hot Air, there's a conspiracy theory a-brewin' that Carl Cameron's report is a hit, owing to the fact that a buddy of his, formerly of FoxNews, was hired and then fired by the Thompson campaign. I guess the idea is that either Cameron's lying to avenge his friend, or his friend is pushing false dirt on Thompson for vengeance.

Problems: Supposedly Cameron heard this not when Fred was hiring people, but last year at CPAC, and furthermore he heard it from mutliple "insiders."

So if you want to believe Cameron is flat-out lying to get some payback for a friend, I guess you're allowed to do so.

JackM. works in DC and heard the same thing. He wrote me earlier:

Absolutely true.
I heard about this as well, and was also sworn to secrecy, which is why I never jumped on the Fred! bandwagon despite his being the most conservative in the field.
It seemed dishonest to me to pimp a guy to your readers who I knew wasn't really in it. But I couldn't say anything...
So, I think you can take Cameron's story to the bank. It seems to jibe with what I heard, although I didnt hear it at CPAC. I heard it [sometime before Thompson officially declared].
Sorry that I couldn't break this on your blog, but people wouldn't have bought it coming from me. All I can do is offer my experiences as an independent confirmation of what someone with credibility has already said.

He softens that "absolutely true" a bit--

I wrote that it was "Absolutely true"...obviously I cant know that as I'm not in Fred''s head.

It is true that the story was circulating in DC. That's what I meant to imply. So that I believe it is absolutely true that Cameron was told this, as I was told the same thing at a later date.

Just because a rumor is widespread doesn't make it true and all that. Still, JackM. heard this from people other than Jim Mills. I can't say who, but let's say the notion that Fred wasn't quite in it to win it was not limited to embittered ex-staffers.

At any rate, I trust JackM. JackM. is kinda connected, which is one reason I allow him to post his stalker poems here.

But damn, buddy. Could have clued me in, huh? When have I ever broken the code when you told me "Keep this confidential"?

Hmmm... A while ago Mickey Kaus wrote cryptically of a "dark star" or black hole exerting influence on the MSM's coverage of the Democratic campaign -- an analogy he used for a fact, or, rather "fact" the MSM thought they knew but couldn't report but which caused them to distort their reportage.

Like a dark star or black hole, the analogy went, the "fact" was actually invisible and unknowable (at least by the general public), but its presence was evidenced by intangible effects like the gravity of slant or bias. The Dark Star itself cannot be seen, except indirectly, in the inexplicable spins of visible bodies.

I didn't know what he was talking about then, specifically, and I still don't, despite the fact that I asked him about it and I think he told me.

But that's irrelevant. What's relevant is the idea of Dark Star Reportage in general, especially as regards Fred. Carl Cameron most likely let his fellow Foxies in on the Big Secret he was keeping confidential. This almost certainly distorted FoxNews' coverage of Fred Thompson, which was strangely antipathetic towards him. Fred complained that he wasn't getting much play at Fox, and there does seem to be some evidence for that.

Fred Thompson should have enjoyed a fairly warm reception at conservative-leaning, Reagan-revering Fox -- and yet he seems not to. Why? Well, perhaps because Fox was acting as if Cameron's scoop were true... while not telling their audience the reasons for their behavior.

Which leads to serious questions. If FoxNews was sitting on an undisclosed scoop they could not reveal due to oaths of secrecy, should they then behave according to that knowledge? Is it fair to treat Fred Thompson's candidacy as not very serious when refusing to reveal to the public the reasons for not treating it very seriously?

Is it fair to allow a secret Dark Star guide one's reportage without alerting the public to that, or even allowing the candidate whose reportage is distorted by the Dark Star to respond to it openly?

It's not doing someone a favor, really, to keep allegations of, say, infidelity secret and hush-hush when actually insinuating, vaguely, there might be some skeleton's in one's closet, is it? If one keeps the secret but more or less behaves as if it's accepted fact, that seems to be the worst of all possible worlds -- the public isn't informed, and the person whose secret is sorta, but not completely, kept (i.e., it's in the air, though never discussed) is actually harmed just about as much as if the secret were actually aired and refuted.

In addition, while I don't think Cameron (or JackM.) is a liar, there is a small chance that this idea of seeking-the-presidency-to-get-the-vice-presidency was spread by an insider who himself was prone to theorizing about stuff he couldn't possibly know for certain. And thus while it may be true that someone close to Thompson told other "insiders" Fred's secret plan, etc., this guy might simply have been wrong. Or he may have been, like so many others in DC, attempting to puff up his own importance by claiming confidences he didn't have, using Thompson as his Big Famous Friend who tells him Very Important Secrets.

But, because the exact nature of the MSM's disdain of Thompson was never revealed, Thompson could never really publicly deny it.

There's a lot of bias in the MSM, obviously. The MSM "knows" a lot of crap it doesn't "know' at all -- like that Global Warming is real and we must do something about it (except give up private jets and limos) soon or we're all going to die. And that Bush said Iraq bought uranium from Niger. And etc.

But the press also seems to suffer from the non-political bias of thinking they know more than they actually know, behaving as if a fact is "confirmed" when it hasn't been confirmed at all. And they don't actually print these Phantom Facts, knowing there's no actual confirmation of them -- technically abiding by the rules of journalism. But then they shape their coverage to reflect these unconfirmed Phantom Facts, putting these little nuggets of non-information out there through slant and angle.

Wouldn't it be far more honest to admit to this stuff right up front? Is it more "fair" or "honest" for the press to keep the rumors and beliefs secret from the public (and immune to refutation) while allowing these exact same rumors and beliefs to shape, distort, and (mis)inform its actual published news product?



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posted by Ace at 12:09 AM

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