The Republican Ministry of Truth

The dishonest attack ads and propaganda from Fox News are only two aspects of the Republican’s propaganda machine. Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams gave away the truth about how his party works when he described the Republican war room to The Denver Post: “Just consider this the Ministry of Truth,” quipped Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

The Ministry of Truth was a the propaganda arm of the totalitarian government in George Orwell’s classic, 1984:

“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

Steve Benen points out an analogous case when a conservative was unintentionally honest about their ideology. He cites a previous post from Andrew Sullivan which describes how Sean Hannity borrowed the Stalinist term Enemy of the State to attack those he disagrees with.

It is obviously an exaggeration to compare Republicans to the totalitarians of 1984 and the USSR under Stalin but the manner in which they use similar propaganda tools to deceive the voters and attack those who disagree with them is a valid concern as well as a threat to the democratic process.

Jon Stewart Criticizes Cable News

Jon Stewart has taken on the bias of cable news, which he described as a “brutish, slow-witted beast”  and criticized Fox News as “an appendage of the Republican Party.”

Wearing a gray T-shirt, khaki pants and a healthy stubble, the “Daily Show” host told reporters at a University of Denver breakfast that Fox’s “fair and balanced” slogan is an insult “to people with brains” and that only “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace “saves that network from slapping on a bumper sticker. . . . Barack Obama could cure cancer and they’d figure out a way to frame it as an economic disaster.”

“I’m stunned to see Karl Rove on a news network as an analyst,” he said of the Bush White House aide turned Fox commentator. Stewart, who voted for John Kerry in 2004, said he didn’t see CNN’s James Carville, the former Bill Clinton aide, in the same category because “I don’t think he’s being passed off as a sage.”

Obama Responds To Swift Boat Attack While McCain Violates Previous Vow To Condemn Such Attacks

Here in Michigan, as well as in other battle ground states, an ad is being shown frequently from a right wing independent group, the American Issues Project, which attempts to Swift Boat Barack Obama by distorting the facts about his association with Bill Ayers. One of the local television stations carrying the ad also reported on the controversy surrounding it and clarifies some of the distorted claims made in the ad:

Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Obama early in his political career and made a donation, but that didn’t necessarily launch his career.

The ad doesn’t mention that Obama criticized the U.S. Capitol bombing as “detestable” earlier this year, and that Obama’s interaction with Ayers came during his tenure as a college professor, not as part of the Weather Underground.

The two served on an anti-poverty board Obama said also included Republicans

Remarkably, while many local television stations are running the ad, Fox News declined the ad. Any ad attacking Democrats which is dishonest enough to be rejected by Fox must really be bad.

The Obama campaign has prepared a response ad which so far has only aired in Ohio. The ad can be viewed here. The transcript reads:

With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the sixties, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?

McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers’ crimes, committed when Obama was just eight years old.

Let’s talk about standing up for America today.

John McCain wants to spend $10 Billion a month in Iraq, tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, selling out American workers.

John McCain, just more of the same.

Obama decided against accepting matching funds in order to be able to have the funds to prepare such response ads in contrast to John Kerry who faced the attacks from the Swift Boat Liars during a time when there were limited funds available for response due to restrictions placed upon him by accepting matching funds. When Obama first gave this reason some criticized him by arguing that there were not any active independent groups as were present in 2004. This attack demonstrates why Obama needed to make the decision he did.

The leadership of the American Issues Project includes a former paid consultant of John McCain.  While the ad did not come directly from the McCain campaign,  Greg Sargent notes that McCain has issued a statement supporting the arguments made. In a follow up post Sargent notes how McCain promised not to tolerate such tactics when interviewed by Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s s “College Tour” in mid-April:

McCain was asked by Matthews whether he would “sit down with the Democratic nominee” and “agree there will be no outside attacks.” Matthews further asked McCain directly whether he would “agree up front” to “condemn any attack like a swift boating” as the nominee.

“Would you do that?” Matthews asked.

“I would love to do that,” McCain replied, to loud applause.

It gets better. McCain went on to suggest that calling on such groups to stop the attacks basically works.

McCain recalled that during the GOP primary he’d taken an outside group to task and demanded a halt in their activities.

“They stopped,” McCain said. “They stopped.”

“So it works?” Matthews asked.

“I think so,” McCain replied. “I think so.”

Matthews pressed further, asking directly whether there will be “no shots at the other person’s character” about “elitism” or similar topics.

“Yes,” McCain replied.

In that case we shouldn’t be surprised that McCain failed to keep his word regarding condemning Swift Boating considered that he has already been engaged in shots at Obama’s character such as with the celebrity ads.