War on Iraq

Weekly Standard Lies About MoveOn Ad, Media Fall For It

Another effort by U.S. citizens to question Bush's policy in Iraq has been silenced by right-wing accusations that critics of the war seek to harm the country.
Pay attention, America: this is how the right-wing uses the media to manipulate the truth and silence dissent against the Iraq war.

Even before MoveOn.org's ran its controversial ad about General Petraeus in the New York Times, The Weekly Standard published an article by Peter Hegseth, Executive Director of the organization Vets for Freedom. The headline of the article accused the MoveOn.org ad of calling Petreaus a 'traitor' ("MoveOn.org Calls Petraeus a Traitor"). The only problem: the word 'traitor' appears nowhere in the MoveOn.org ad nor anywhere on the MoveOn.org page about the ad. It is Hegseth's article that introduced the word 'traitor' into the story -- an outright lie intended to silence dissent against the war. Less than 24 hours after the Hegseth piece ran and the MoveOn.org ad appeared, the mainstream media picked up the Weekly Standard's lie and repeated it until it became the story.

The word 'betray' used by MoveOn in the ad implies many meanings, but does not directly imply 'traitor' -- unless that definition is introduced.

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Voila! Another effort by U.S. citizens to question Bush's policy in Iraq has been silenced by right-wing, coordinated accusations that critics of the war seek to harm the country, this time by slandering the U.S. military.

And it is not just overt right-wing sources influenced by the Weekly Standard.

During an interview of MoveOn.org's Eli Pariser, last night (Sep 10, 2007), Hardball's Chris Matthew's repeated the false accusation several times, asking if it was acceptable to accuse Patraeus of being a 'traitor,' as if the MoveOn.org ad had done so -- thereby repeating Hegseth's false spin.

In the 48 hours since it was posted Hegseth's lie about the MoveOn.org ad has been repeated all over the media, from Hugh Hewitt in the Los Angeles Times (Sep 10, 2007) to lesser-known sources such as Wake Up America.

Hewitt also repeated the Hegseth lie in a Townhall.com post, posting a statement to the widely-read conservative blog that is outright false when he stated that the Senate had used "MoveOn.org as their party's attack dog to call David Petraeus a traitor"--despite the fact that the MoveOn.org ad did not call Petraeus a liar (full post here).

The problem, of course, is not just that a false statement in the original Hegseth article was published as if it was news on The Weekly Standard, but the uncritical way other media outlets picked up and repeated the lie.

To date, not one major media outlet has denounced the Hegseth pieces for lying about the text of the MoveOn.org ad.

(cross posted from Frameshop)
Jeffrey Feldman is Editor-in-Chief of Frameshop.
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