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Blame Canada! -- No, Wait, I Mean Clinton!

The ConWeb wastes little time in spinning a tragedy.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/12/2001
Updated 9/13/2001

It wasn't a matter of if, but when.

There was no doubt that the ConWeb was going to figure out a way to pin Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Bill Clinton. The question was whether the victims' bodies would be allowed to get cold before it happened.

Sure enough, by early Tuesday evening -- less than 12 hours after the first airliner smashed into the World Trade Center -- there were two denunciations of Clinton for allowing the attack to happen.

WorldNetDaily's Paul Sperry used an anonymous "Pentagon official" as his main source -- the only source of information Sperry uses in his "news" story, near as we can tell -- to pin the deed on Clinton by allegedly allowing "guys like (Osama) bin Laden (chief suspect in the attacks) grow in strength to the point where they felt they could pull off things like they pulled off today."

"Tellingly, Clinton refrained from a military response in 1996, when 19 U.S. airmen were killed in the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers barracks in Saudi Arabia," Sperry writes. He also quotes a "Pentagon anti-terrorism official" (Sperry doesn't make it clear whether this is the same person as the "Pentagon official" who starts out the story) as saying the Clinton administration "wanted court-quality evidence before they'd go forward" and retaliate.

Two points Sperry doesn't address:

  • Why is "court-quality evidence" a bad thing?
  • Why should we trust Sperry's anonymous source any farther than we can throw him? Or does he have ConWeb credibility merely because he criticizes Clinton?

Meanwhile, over at Accuracy in Media, Reed Irvine gets to merge Clinton-bashing with one of his crusades, trying to prove to anyone who will listen that the crash of TWA Flight 800 a few years back was caused by a missile. "We have to wonder if the Clinton administration’s cover-up of the cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800 emboldened the perpetrators of these attacks to carry out their kamikaze missions."

By the end of the night Tuesday, NewsMax's Christopher Ruddy joined the bandwagon -- though not before the site canonized with a UPI story Clinton-hater Barbara Olson, who was a passenger on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon and whose latest anti-Clinton tome NewsMax has been pushing. (One teaser from the book accuses Clinton of being "incoherent" and "bleary-eyed" during the final days of his presidency.)

"... It's obvious why the media doesn't want any finger pointing," Ruddy rants. "Guess who ran the U.S. government and was responsible for our national security for the past eight years? Yes, you got it, Bill Clinton, Hillary's husband." Ruddy doesn't actually accuse Hillary of anything other than being married to Bill; there's no reason to mention her except to spread a little blame her way via implication and to make sure both Clintons are inextricably linked to all evil from from gingivitis on up.

So what, exactly, does Ruddy accuse Clinton of doing? "During eight years, Clinton decimated America's military. Our forces were cut almost in half under his stewardship. Research and development on all new weapons systems were brought almost to a halt as other nations continued to build. Clinton destroyed nearly our entire arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. Monsters like Saddam flourished as Clinton bombed aspirin factories, tent cities in Afghanistan and worthless radar stations in the Iraqi desert.

"These are open facts, easily verifiable," Ruddy adds, though he doesn't actually bother to waste precious Clinton-bashing space verifying them for his readers.

That's not all, of course. "... Clinton, the ever-clever bastard, was more insidious. Little, systematic changes were undertaken to destroy America's intelligence agencies."

To prove this, Ruddy turns to two former CIA workers (not exactly the "CIA Officials Reveal What Went Wrong" Ruddy promises in the headline of his article), a "recently retired high-ranking CIA official" and someone who "was a CIA spy in the Mideast," whom Ruddy refers to as "Harry" and Roger" respectively. That's right, more anomymous sources whose apparent main qualification is that they will bash Clinton to the ConWeb's satisfaction.

"Roger" spins one conspiratorial tale, as told by Ruddy: "Roger said the CIA was not interested in recruiting spies. Clinton and company knew they could not just tell the CIA to stop recruiting spies. That would look stupid and embarrassing. So they just changed the rules of how spies are recruited, raising the bar on requirements to such a high degree that the most valuable spies could never meet CIA standards and couldn't work for us."

"Roger" then cites a policy issued by then-CIA Director John Deutch and assistant Nora Slatkin -- "Clinton's anti-intelligence plants," he calls them -- that required CIA "assets" to be "clean" of human rights violations. "Roger says the CIA, even under new leadership, has never recovered from the 'Human Rights Scrub' policy." Ruddy intones, then adds ominously: "Perhaps that was the intention."

Such criticism, of course, doesn't work the other way in the eyes of the ConWeb. The headline on a Wednesday story screams, "Vile Media Making Snide Remarks About Bush." One example cited is Dan Rather saying, "No matter how you feel about him, he is still our president." No explanation is offered as to why that remark is "snide."

The article then launches into blind Bush-worship mode: "The president has been eloquent. He has been confident. Real Americans support him 100 percent."

Ruddy says in his column that the "honest media" should look at what went wrong in allowing the attacks to occur. But, apparently, they can't look if they're going to implicate President Bush. Another "snide" remark the NewsMax story cites is a question, as paraphrased by a NewsMax reader, by NBC's Tom Brokaw to retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf asking if the Bush administration was "negligent" in not getting actively involved in the Mideast peace process during the recent outbreak violence there. Again, no explanation of why that is "snide" compared to, say, Ruddy's column.

"Honest media"? That certainly leaves NewsMax out of the loop.


Ruddy rails further on the "media elitists" in his Wednesday column.

"How dare Tom Brokaw suggest that President Bush might have been 'negligent' for not having been more involved in the Mideast peace crisis, as he did today while interviewing Gen. Schwarzkopf," he states early on.

Ruddy provides another example of the "media elitists" at work, relay a message from a reader who was "watching NBC yesterday when correspondent Andrea Mitchell, the wife of Alan Greenspan, was on making 'the snide comment that a president must not only be the 'Commander-in-Chief,' but also a 'Comforter-in-Chief.''" Huh? This is snide? How?

Of course, it's still all Clinton's fault: "All the networks joined Clinton, along with the major papers — right in the middle of that terrible (1994 Oklahoma City) tragedy — blaming conservative Republicans, 'Clinton-haters,' talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, the Internet — and any one else who ever made a legitimate criticism of Bill Clinton. Now when we have a real enemy, not just some nutcase, drug-using bomber such as McVeigh, the media don’t want us to ask who led us to this situation." Ruddy got so involved in his rant that he forgot that public use of the Internet was too miniscule in 1994 to be blamed for anything.

Ruddy also claims that "the NPR crowd has led an orchestrated e-mail campaign against NewsMax, furious with my 'Blame Clinton' article. These phonies are feigning 'shock' I would criticize the man they supported as he worked to bring down America." Shocked by Ruddy's hypocrisy might be more like it. (For the record, I haven't orchestrated a thing, and I can barely pick up NPR where I live.)

Ruddy concludes his rant: "It’s clear the media are anxious to undermine Bush, to blame Bush, to hurt Bush. ... We know better. That’s why we will stand firmly with President Bush and for our country."

True, we do know better -- enough to know that Ruddy and NewsMax would never "stand firmly" with a President Gore in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Ruddy would never criticize "snide" remarks by the press to a President Gore in the same situation; he would be heading the snide patrol. He would be the one calling Gore "negligent." Instead of branding those who would question President Bush's actions as unpatriotic, Ruddy would be berating a President Gore and proclaiming himself a patriot in the process. (We also remember who got more votes last November, so putting Gore in Bush's shoes isn't exactly a stretch.)

Ruddy writes that the "NPR crowd" has been "reminding me that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," but what he's doing is actually worse. He takes partisan politics, dresses it up a bit, calls it journalism, then wraps it in disingenuous patriotism. He claims "we will stand firmly with President Bush" when that's been NewsMax's modus operandi long before the events of Tuesday. Remember, NewsMax was last seen ignoring the Bush administration's refusal to open the records of Dick Cheney's task force after criticizing Hillary Clinton for doing the very same thing.

Hey, we're just being honest. And isn't an "honest media" what Ruddy claims to want?

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