Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 5, 2006 / 13 Tishrei, 5767

When the medium is the message

By Suzanne Fields


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Mr. Wallace, my opinion is not all that important. I went to a little Jesuit school in Buffalo called Canisius, and the priests taught us never to lie, but if you had to lie, never lie about facts. — Michael Scheuer, former CIA agent


Michael Scheuer was chief of the bin Laden Unit at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999, charged with finding the mastermind who would one day plot and direct 9/11. He's a harsh critic of the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq, and he is unequivocal and unrelenting in his dispute of Bill Clinton's assertion that he never had opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden.


"Mr. Richard Clarke, Mr. Sandy Berger, President Clinton are lying about the opportunities they had to kill [him]," he told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. "That's the plain truth, the exact truth."


He didn't stop there. He put the issue in the moral context of lying. In Washington, where cynicism abounds and both parties accuse the other of lying about the facts of the war in Iraq and of the larger war against terror, it's refreshing to be reminded that leaders shouldn't lie. Lying corrupts the democratic system, and free speech depends on our ability to separate lies from truth. That is increasingly hard to do in our multimedia culture.


How we receive facts determines how we understand them. That's what Marshall McLuhan meant when he famously said "the medium is the message." Television is the "cool medium" because it provides less information than newspapers but appeals to our senses through the swift progression of images. Newspapers and radio make up the "hot medium" because they demand less attention from the senses and more from the reasoning part of the brain.


All this was (and is) fairly esoteric, if not fanciful, and no one knows what Mr. McLuhan would say now about words that pop and crackle on the Internet. Television news is so hyped by aggressive music between segments that you get the feeling the producers are afraid viewers will fall asleep but for the thumping beats. (They might be right.)


Often television news feels like a three-ring circus as information unrelated to what's actually being talked about dances before our eyes. During serious interviews on Fox News, the four pundits who will interpret what is said when the interview is over pop up like cutout puppets in the corner of the screen as though they're exiles from a show for children.


This visual process in fact works best for children, who are accustomed to Sesame Street, where singing and dancing letters and numbers make learning fun. But it's getting harder for adults to separate entertainment from information, the wheat from the chaff, the truth from the lie.


That recent interview when Bill Clinton lost his temper with Chris Wallace grew out of the former president's irritation with a "docudrama" that didn't distinguish fact from fiction. But that's the nature of docudrama. (You could ask Oliver Stone.) The Fox interview probably drew more media attention than any interview the president has given since he left office, and we still aren't sure whether he was telling the truth. We never are; this was the same Bill Clinton, after all, who shook his finger at us when he lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. His supporters, ever eager to enable him, argued that lying about sex isn't the same as lying about government. But the wall between the personal and the public is particularly porous. (You could ask Mark Foley.) A wise man once observed how easy it is to tell a lie, how hard to tell only one.


Mr. Scheuer scolded Bill Clinton for saying he lacked the authority to authorize the decision to kill bin Laden. "It's not for a simple, dumb bureaucrat like me; that's not my decision. It's his."


It's hard not to believe someone who calls himself a "dumb bureaucrat," but David Benjamin, former member of Clinton's National Security Council, blames the lack of confirmed intelligence as the reason the Clinton administration failed to get bin Laden. The point is not whether Bill Clinton lied, but how disarming Michael Scheuer can be in forcing our attention to a moral issue crucial to the trust of the people. The higher the stakes, the lower a man can stoop to protect himself. When the facts determine a presidential legacy, the conduct of a war or a midterm election, the stakes are very high.


Otto von Bismarck knew what he was talking about. "People never lie so much" he said, "as after a hunt, during a war or before an election." You don't have to be "a dumb bureaucrat" to understand that.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Suzanne Fields' column by clicking here.

Up

Suzanne Fields Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate, Suzanne Fields

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles