On one hand, it’s surprising that Fox News has even bothered to cover the Downing Street Memo, the British government document that appears to prove that President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and others were lying to the American public in early 2002 when they said that they had “no plans” to invade Iraq.
The story has been scarcely reported in the mainstream press, to say the least, so you have to wonder why the in-house propaganda network for the Bush Administration would draw attention to it unnecessarily – especially since the Bushies have so far failed to disavow its veracity.
The article has an ironic, oh-those-crazy-liberals tone as it attempts to spin the story as irrelevant. The reason for the lack of coverage, we are told, is that the memo’s contents are unimportant. After all, it was leaked to the London Times prior to the British elections last month, and Blair was reelected handily.
As is typical among rightwingers, in attempting to diminish the memo’s importance, Fox News over-reaches by including a quote from a spurious source that is an outright lie:
“As a smoking gun it leaves a lot to be desired,” said Kevin Aylward, a northern Virginia-based technology consultant who runs the conservative-leaning blog, Wizbangblog.com. “It’s interesting, but it’s probably fourth- or fifth-hand information.”
Dead wrong. The contents of the memo are based entirely on firsthand information. It presents minutes of a meeting among members of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, which the memo-writer personally attended – and covers a report by a Blair official of conversations he personally held with Bush Administration officials.
The Fox article quickly moves then from the substance to the politics of the memo:
Aylward added: “I suspect the more interesting story at this point, seeing it three weeks later, is who is behind the letter-writing campaign to push it in the media.” Several popular left-leaning blogs have taken up the cause to keep the story alive, encouraging readers to contact media outlets. A Web site, DowningStreetMemo.com, tells readers to contact the White House directly with complaints.
Looked at from this perspective, the Fox coverage of the memo may signal genuine concern on the Right about its contents. Batting down the story now sends a signal to the Rightwing Echo Machine how to shape the coverage now for the Dittohead legions. These folks don’t care about the facts anyway.
And then there is a quote from a Rightwing pundit, who lays down the guantlet to the Left:
“This is a test of the left-wing blogosphere,” said Jim Pinkerton, syndicated columnist and regular contributor to FOX News Watch. “In many ways that memo might prove all of the arguments the critics of the war have made,” he added. “But the bulk of Americans don’t agree, or don’t seem that alarmed, so it is a power test to see if they can drive it back on the agenda.”
Challenge duly noted, Jim.