Wednesday, September 15, 2004

So yesterday I was flipping through a copy of a newly published novel -- Slick by Daniel Price. It's about an ethically challenged publicist who devises a scheme to help a rapper named Jeremy (aka Hunta) who's about to be publicly accused of sexual assault. The ruse is: the publicist will produce another accuser who will go public first with charges that she was sexually assaulted by Hunta -- and then that accuser will be discredited.

Do you understand why I'm bringing this up here?

Early on, I said I didn't think the Killian memos about George Bush's National Guard service were genuine -- and I also said that if they were fakes, I suspected Karl Rove might have had them created and planted in order to poison the evidence trail.

Now here's a novel with a plot that hinges on a scheme to clear a man who's under suspicion by faking an accusation in the expectation that the fake will be discredited.

I haven't actually read Slick, but here's some of the dialogue in which the publicist explains the scheme to the rapper and some of his associates:

"You want to save Jeremy from one slanderous charge by hitting him with another."

..."No," I assured him. "I want to save him from one slanderous charge by
missing him with another. That's the key difference....

"There were a lot of other women at that Christmas party," I continued. "If we get just one of them to beat Lisa to the press with the exact same charge and the exact same story, down to the minute, then Lisa will be jammed forever. She'll be nullified. What's she going to say? 'No, Hunta didn't sexually abuse that woman that night. He was too busy sexually abusing me'? Nobody would take her seriously. She'd be a copycat. A shameless opportunist. She’d barely get a mention....

"... as far as the press is concerned, it's not who’s right, it's who's first. If we get there first, our woman will be the tent pole. She'll be the one the reporters rally around. And once she goes down, everyone goes down with her. It's like fruit from a poisonous tree. That's why it's really important that we work fast and get our decoy out there first."...

Simba remained firmly rooted in skepticism....

"I don't understand," she said. "You're going to have one of these dancing skanks come forward, frame Jeremy, and then what? Admit it was all a lie?"

"Yes, but not hers. That's the best part. She'll tell the world she was offered a lot of money by some unnamed source, some shadow conspirator with an anti-rap objective. The press will eat it up. They'll do a total 180 and go after all the people who were going after Hunta. How's that for payback?"

I turned to Hunta.... "Not only will this silence Lisa, not only will this turn you from monster to martyr, but this'll weatherproof you against all future accusations. For the rest of your life, you'll have the benefit of the doubt. You'll have

The tent pole. That's what the discredited Killian documents have become in this National Guard story, right?

Maybe it's rash to say that something like this did happen in the case of the Killian documents. But obviously I'm not the only person who can imagine a scheme of this kind.


UPDATE: You may want to don an extra layer of tinfoil before reading this, but Mike Burke of Democracy Now points out (at BuzzFlash) something curious about another story that failed to tarnish Bush:

Remember the allegations that Bush was arrested in 1972 on drug possession charges, specifically cocaine? Today it is basically a non-story. But it is worth looking back at why.

In 1999, St. Martin's Press published a critical biography of Bush titled "Fortunate Son". The book quoted an unnamed "high-ranking advisor to Bush," who revealed Bush's 1972 drug bust. The source told author J.H. Hatfield, Bush "was ordered by a Texas judge to perform community service in exchange for expunging his record showing illicit drug use."

Hatfield later revealed that his source was none other than Karl Rove. That might seem ridiculous, considering Rove's lifelong loyalty to the Bushes and the fact that he now has an office adjacent to Bush's in the White House. But leaking the story to Hatfield essentially discredited the story and sent it into the annals of conspiracy theory. Soon after the book was published and just as St. Martin's was preparing a high profile launching of the book, the "Dallas Morning News" ran a story revealing that Hatfield was a felon who had served time in jail. In response, St. Martin's pulled the book.

"When the media stumbled upon a story regarding George W. Bush's 1972 cocaine possession arrest, Rove had to find a way to kill the story. He did so by destroying the messenger," says Sander Hicks, the former publisher of Soft Skull, which re-published "Fortunate Son." "They knew the stories of Dubya's cocaine and drink busts would come out, so they made certain that it would come out of the mouth of a guy they could smear," said journalist Greg Palast, who wrote the forward to the final edition of the book.


Now, needless to say, there's a difference between poisoning a story by handing it off to a journalist with a dubious reputation and poisoning a story by handing a reputable journalistic outfit a dubious piece of evidence. But it's a variation on the same theme.

I don't know if Hatfield was even telling the truth about Rove. But this certainly piques my interest.

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