Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2009

IT NEVER ENDS.... On Wednesday's episode of MSNBC's "Hardball," Ari Fleischer defended the war in Iraq by saying, "After Sept. 11, having been hit once, how could we take a chance that Saddam might not strike again?"

Last night's "Hardball" managed to be even more mind-numbing, with Frank Gaffney taking the bizarre Iraq theories to the next level:

"He [Saddam] kept saying he was going to try to get even against us for Desert Storm, so it wouldn't be unreasonable for people to conclude maybe that that's what he was doing. There is also circumstantial evidence, not proven by any means, but nonetheless some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence of Saddam Hussein's Iraq being involved with the people who perpetrated both the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and even the Oklahoma City bombing."

He was entirely serious.

Later, in the same interview, Gaffney said those who were responsible for 9/11 had "collaborative relationships with Iraqi intelligence."

Honestly, listening to some of these guys talk about Iraq and 9/11 is a bit like watching the "Dead Parrot" sketch. The argument is obviously dead. Gaffney can push the cage, but the argument won't move.

I'm curious. Is there nothing these guys can say that would force them from polite company? How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

The only difference between gaffes and gaffneys is one is not intentional.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 13, 2009 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Would someone please remind the dinosaurs that they are extinct? Thank you.

Posted by: Steve W. on March 13, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Oklahoma City??!?!?!?!? Seriously? The attack that was carried out by white right wing militia dudes? The one that everyone blamed on 'dark skinned arabs' before we realized it was a red-headed white dude? Seriously? WTF.

Posted by: Uncular1 on March 13, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

The question is did Tweety call either of them on it?

Posted by: Rick on March 13, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Look: people in this country choose to believe what they want. Our "marketplace of ideas" has become a clearinghouse for all sorts of idiotic beliefs. After all, people voted for Bush notonce, but twice.
Until this country realizes that there is a reality and there is americanality, we will continue to see all sorts of drivel being pronounced. Like this posting itself. What do I know? But in a country where people believe in angels, god(s) and other nonsense, why not choose to believe that Iraq was behind 9/11?
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus: it's the problem, not some cute saying.

Posted by: Chris on March 13, 2009 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

gaffney: I know the circumstantial evidence that points to Saddam Hussein collaborating with the terrorist attacks on OKC and 9/11 is compelling. I helped write it, and I'm good at what I do!

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 13, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm curious. Is there nothing these guys can say that would force them from polite company? How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?"

Maybe someone should ask Chris Matthews this question?

Jon Stewart, perhaps?

Posted by: Vicki Linton on March 13, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Do we have to wait for TDS to put Fleischer on the hot seat, or will the MSM wake up at any possible time in the near future?

It's reprehensible that they let him get away with it.

Posted by: SteinL on March 13, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

The networks put these people on because other people will watch. Same reason Ed Sullivan always had a plate spinner. Some of those people watching will buy some of the stuff being advertised.

How they manage to get air time on PBS and C-SPAN is more puzzling.

Instead of watching their side shows, curl up with Susan Jacoby, and read her "The Age of American Unreason".

Posted by: DAY on March 13, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Is there nothing these guys can say that would force them from polite company? How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

Well, they could advocate for national health care, or suggest that we decriminalize drugs, or note that we committed war crimes in Iraq and were engaged in an active ongoing program of government sanctioned rape, kidnapping and torture. That'll get them booted, but fast.

Posted by: Stefan on March 13, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

You have to remember that there is still a significant percent of the population that believe a combination of Iraq was in cahoots with AlQaeda and WMD were in Iraq--these are the 25% who had a favorable impression of GWB at the time he exited office. The media did little to discourage these abberant ideas while he was in office. Is it surprising that these ideas aren't laughed off the stage now?

Posted by: Neal on March 13, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

The question is did Tweety call either of them on it?

No, the question is Why did Tweety call either of them?

Posted by: martin on March 13, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

There was a mountain of evidence linking 9/11 to Saudi Arabia, including the fact that Bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. So why didn't we attack Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: Virginia on March 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, we figure that your innocent bon homme attitude is a rhetorical ploy (?) but regarding: "Is there nothing these guys can say that would force them from polite company? How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?" Well. Fleischer and Gaffe-ney can say as many crazy things as they want and the MSM will still invite them back to share ridiculous ideas. That's because of the MSM's extended (viewpoint, not just Party) Broderism, it's need for phony "balance" (actually, to have more right-wingers as commenters) and the need such characters serve for a segment of the audience as well as the Owners.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on March 13, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I think the answer to your question is simple: When sites like this stop taking up the substance of the supposed "controversy" that MSNBC has aired -- commenting on the nuts' comments -- and start ridiculing MSNBC itself for "featuring lies": that is when they will stop letting guys like this on air. Got to make MSNBC itself pay a price. Just like Jon Stewart has demnstrated with the so-called business commentators.

I, personally, watched Hardball a lot during the election, but I have stopped. Too much really stupid or false commentary, especially on the economy. Not worth watching.

Posted by: Theda Skocpol on March 13, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

"did Tweety call either of them on it?"

Nah. He was too busy pining for the fjords.

Posted by: Grumpy on March 13, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

as long as you're in favor of spilling thousands of people's blood, you will be considered serious. gaffney is as serious as a stroke.

Posted by: benjoya on March 13, 2009 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK
How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

Aside from spreading propaganda that serves the interests of its corporate parents, the US media is interested in two-sided controversy, and unconcerned with the factual basis or logical validity of either side of the controversy. So the question you are asking is completely irrelevant: crazy doesn't matter.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 13, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

The better criticism of Matthews is following the shout out formula of having two counter-point guests on at the same time. Yesterday, this became a shouting match between Gaffney and David Corn. Jon Stewart would take Frank G one on one. Matthews did use putdowns of Gaffney, including one at the end where he blasted Doug Feith, as well. Gaffney got the last word by saying "Thank God" that Feith's plans had prevailed. We can cajole all we want, but, it looks as though the Neo-Cons are going to go laughing into the night that their plans were put into effect and there is nothing that we will or can do about it, except complain.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, came here to say: Oklahoma City?

Am I even on the same planet as this guy? While it would be fun to imagine McVeigh and Saddam hanging out and planning the destruction of America, I can't imagine much that is further from what I call "reality."

Posted by: Franklin on March 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious as to when they are going to link Saddam to the JFK assassination, the Challenger explosion, and the death of Rin Tin Tin.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 13, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?

They need not be crazy. They need only be Republican.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on March 13, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely sums it up nicely -- I watched that Hardball segment in absolute horror. We're seriously entertaining Gaffney's arguments on a national news program? I mean, really? It's about four steps beyond the standard discredited neocon bullshitting.

Differing points of view are great. When one of those views is comprised solely of multilayered lies -- not your ordinary partisan fibbing, but actual rewriting of established history -- there's a problem.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on March 13, 2009 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Is it too much to hope that Stewart's performance might be a transformative moment for someone in the MSM/Cable universe?

Posted by: Scott F. on March 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

PS: The Media today aren't generally "polite company" ...

Posted by: Neil B ♪ ♫ on March 13, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

While it would be fun to imagine McVeigh and Saddam hanging out and planning the destruction of America...

Sadly, "you can't prove it isn't true" was the evidentiary standard of the Bush war planners.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on March 13, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Vicki has it absolutely right:
The 'serious' news media boys and girls fail time and again to call out anybody, except in cases of usually pre-ordained shouting matches on cable, even when the most atrocious statements are made right into their face. It takes a comedian like Jon Stewart to deliver a calm, factual confrontation like the one yesterday. Is that too unseemly for the MSM or are they just not capable of that?

Pundit land is swamp land.

Posted by: SRW1 on March 13, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

How crazy? well supporting single payer health care would be one criterion.

Posted by: jhm on March 13, 2009 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Those of you wondering WTF Gaffney is talking about linking Saddam Hussein to the Oklahoma City bombing and the 93 World Trade Center attacks: he's promoting the crackpot conspiracy theories of an otherwise obscure AEI fellow named Laurie Mylroie who wrote and spoke extensively in the late 90's and up through the early 00's about how Saddam Hussein was essentially the mastermind of every major terror attack in the world. She's so utterly nuts most conservatives and hawks won't return her phone calls anymore, but there's a few die hard true believers like Gaffney who continue to parrot (zing!) her theories. Dick Cheney, I might add, bought into Mylroie's theories 110% as well.

Posted by: jonas on March 13, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Ari Fleischer was George W Bush's spokeshack for awhile, so doesn't it figure he's a liar?

Posted by: Neil B. ☺ on March 13, 2009 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Convoluted conflations - the last refuge of a scoundrel - unless he chooses to hide behind his religion! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 13, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

The good news is, after Geffney was on, Matthews had the good taste to use experts and file footage of the Bushies and their lies, and exposed everything Gaffney said as a lie - and even called Gaffney a liar on the air.

Posted by: TCinLA on March 13, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, we are in the age of "news as entertainment" and that means never having to call out idiots or shun lies as long as they have "entertainment" value. Don't forget Gaffney was busy selling China as the major threat we needed to start a war with "before they got too strong" before 9/11.

Posted by: Blakenator on March 13, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

At least he had David Corn on to balance out this idiot. Corn doesn't mind engaging in a shouting match, and that is what it takes when these neocons show up to push their views. Ari spent most of his time chastising Matthews two days ago, and last night Gaffney admitted that he keeps talking so that nobody else can interrupt him.

Essentially these guys/gals show up and bully everyone else. Matthews usually gives up, Corn did a good job.

Posted by: tomj on March 13, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

They could criticize Israel. That seems enough to do it no matter who you are.

Posted by: soullite on March 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Matthews also had Tom "Bugman" DeLay on on 2/25 "rebutting" Obama's 2/24 speech. Why do these disgraced people get a forum like that? Moreover how can these people even show their faces? They obviously have no shame. Matthews told both DeLay and Gaffney they were welcome back anytime.

I am so darned proud of Jon Stewart for taking on Cramer last night. He did a far far far far far better job than most television interviewers. The best expression of populism I've seen on TV lately.

Posted by: Hannah on March 13, 2009 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Are "Hardball" sponsors AWARE that they support historical fabrication like this?

George Friggin' Bush doesn't claim Iraq ties to Al Queda pre-9/11.

There's Dick Cheney and these two jokers.

If Hardball were just mindless, I wouldn't care. This is actually damaging public discourse. You cannot evaluate mistakes made if your facts are wrong. This kind of thing defeats the needed educational process that avoids similar mistakes in the future.

I'm irked. I'd like to manage outrage.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 13, 2009 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

"There is also circumstantial evidence, not proven by any means, but nonetheless some pretty compelling circumstantial evidence..."

There is some pretty compelling evidence that Bush/Cheney knew that attacks were coming and looked the other way. That was the only way they could get their radical agenda on the table.

Posted by: James G on March 13, 2009 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was scratching my head about the Iraq-Oklahoma City bombing and I poked around a bit. The idea came from a woman named Jayna Davis who was a reporter and wrote a book called "The Third Terrorist" where she linked the bombing to Iraq, later she tried to link the bombing to Al-Queda as well. Obviously this theory has been completely debunked for the complete lack of any evidence, but I guess crazy never really goes away.

Posted by: Reverend J on March 13, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Is there nothing these guys can say that would force them from polite company? How crazy need one be before they're no longer invited back onto national television to share their ridiculous ideas?"

I was thinking the same thing as I watched the segment, except I would have added that Gaffney should be beaten with a stick for being such a grotesque human being, willing to lie and kill for his deranged ideas.


Posted by: occam on March 13, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"So why didn't we attack Saudi Arabia?"

Cuz that's were we get our oil, silly.

Iraq was selling their oil to those cheese-eating surrender monkeys in FRANCE.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on March 13, 2009 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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