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A recent incident occurred that sent me seeking insight from a wide
spectrum of thinkers.
Three qualities of mind … deliberativeness, judgment, and
conceived by both Aristotle and Aquinas, as belonging together as part
intellectual virtue they call “prudence” or “practical wisdom.”
John Locke said “the mind has two faculties conversant about truth
falsehood, … One is the faculty of knowing … the other is of
Cyberspace and talk radio patrons do a good job of “knowing,” but too
often, a lousy job of “judging.” This is true of both the left
and the right.
Last week there was a hoax story floated about James Carville
allegedly having been arrested for domestic abuse. The story included
“details” conservative critics would (and did) salivate over: improper
use of a firearm, an alleged “sterile” handgun with no serial numbers,
property damage, domestic abuse, yada-yada-yada. …
I received no less than 30 copies of the story from the “Montgomery
County Sentinel” in Rockville, Maryland. However, before reporting the
story I made a few quick calls.
Thirty years ago, when I was breaking in as a news editor, my old
boss (Harry McKenna) insisted that before I tell a radio audience a
story, I needed to corroborate the alleged facts by no less than three
independent sources. Reporting a story fast is always good … getting
it right, is always better.
Over a year I ago, I reported here on WorldNetDaily the story of
Newsweek spiking the Michael Isikoff story about Monica Lewinsky. I did
that on a Monday. Immediately I started getting phone calls, faxes, and
e-mails from colleagues (most on the east coast) saying I was “Nuts.”
“Geoff, are you out of your F*&%$#@ mind? …” Well, two days later, the
mainstream jumped on the Monica story like white on rice.
I first heard of the Isikoff story from Matt Drudge (the Saturday
Wednesday the networks chose to run with it). However, before I either
wrote about it, or spoke about it on the radio, I made about a half
dozen quick phone calls. ALL the calls resulted in confirmation of the
core facts. That was sufficient corroboration for me to go forward. Two
days later the mainstream joined the fray.
The Carville hoax, conversely, failed the b.s. test. When I started
checking on the “Montgomery County Sentinel” story, there were some
early warning signs it was bogus.
- James Carville and Mary Maitlin don’t live in Maryland. They live
- There is no “Montgomery County Sentinel.” There is a Montgomery
County Observer (in another state). They carried this WorldNetDaily
- The police office quoted in the story doesn’t exist on any
Maryland police or sheriff departments.
- Coincidentally, the author of the article translates to “joke” in
The whole story was/is bogus, phony, bullfeathers … a hoax.
However, several Internet lists bought the hoax and widely distributed
the patently false story as true. Why? Because they wanted to believe it
… and they were lazy.
I have often observed that “some people don’t want to be confused
with facts which contradict their preconceived opinion.” The corollary
to that is also true. Some folks are all too willing to accept false
data because it supports their preconceived opinions and prejudices.
This is not the first time such a phony story has been floated.
- Last year there was a story (also a hoax) that Sarah Brady
allegedly used a handgun to shoot a burglar.
- Prior to having televised the President’s grand jury testimony
there were two false stories which were widely reported in the
conservative press. One was a false report that what was televised was
the result of over 127 edits. The second was the false report that the
president “lost it” and stormed out of the grand jury room in a rage.
Both reports were false, yet eagerly embraced by critics of both the
administration and the mainstream media.
I have my own opinion of how and why these hoaxes happen. The
disinformation and misinformation enjoy as catalysts the enthusiasm and
speed of the conservative press to disseminate stuff they like. The
Internet and talk radio (two venues to which I contribute) have become
both a blessing and a curse.
I could quote Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Aquinas and Descartes … but I
won’t. Even though the words of a fireteam of ole dead white guys told
us what we too often ignore. I will remind you that Alexander Hamilton
qualified the difference between Man as being “reasoning” as opposed to
“reasonable.” The two concepts should not be mutually exclusive.
Consider my theory on these hoax stories. I do not think these are
the product of mere independent pranksters. I have come to believe they
are intentionally created, leaked and/or disseminated by supporters of
the Clintonistas to achieve the following:
- The story is leaked and distributed to spark the feeding frenzy
from conservative activists that inevitably results.
- The story is refuted, and then PROVED false by the principals
involved (who may or may not know of how they are being used).
- The debunking of the story undermines the credibility of those who
reported it as fact, and subjects them to ridicule and disdain.
- Perhaps most significant … by wounding the credibility of those
who had reported the hoax as fact, future real, true stories which would
embarrass or threaten the socialist agenda are ignored (ala “The boy who
cried wolf”), or easily dismissed as “Yeah sure, remember what they said
about Carville and Brady and the president’s grand jury testimony …
consider the source.”
Consider the source. If it sounds too good to be true … it may not
be true. Before you become a co-conspirator with those who seek to
undermine, discredit, and devalue your knowledge and power … do what
Harry McKenna made me do 30 years ago … check out the reported facts,
and the source.