Monday, March 28, 2011


In Iran, the anti-Semitic rallying cries show up in presidential speeches; here in America, the Republicans and their media and finance wings (Murdoch, Koch, etc.) largely leave it to the populace to develop and disseminate rabble-rousing, team-building nuggets of ignorance. It's more of an entrepreneurial model. Of course, the bigwigs are ready and willing to provide the media equivalent of venture capital for notions that promise to inspire fist-pumping anti-liberal ignorance in large amounts.

An example: a failed writer named Jack Cashill developed a cockamamie notion that Barack Obama didn't write his first book, and not only didn't he write it, but right-wing bogeyman Bill Ayers actually did. The notion, developed by Cashill in a series of interminable articles mostly published at the relatively obscure site the American Thinker, began to inspire a useful sort of hatred of Barack Obama. And so Mary Matalin's Threshold Editions gave Cashill a book deal.

Meanwhile, Ayers has developed a canned riff on the subject: Oh yeah, I wrote the book -- and if you can help me prove that, I'll split the royalties with you. (Obama's books were huge bestsellers and made him a millionaire.) It's a joke, and Ayers just made it again after delivering a speech:

But Jack Cashill takes it seriously ("Ayers affirms he wrote Dreams from My Father"). And right-wing blogger after right-wing blogger after right-wing blogger is taking this very, very seriously.

One blog taking it seriously? Gateway Pundit -- and, well, I agree with TBogg that GP is a blog that specializes in ignorance ... but it's also a go-to blog for Murdoch's Fox Nation. FN cites one Gateway Pundit post after another after another; it's a favorite FN source.

So we're a long way from William F. Buckley urging the right to purge itself of the John Birch Society -- though we're still not at the point where the truly crazy stuff comes from the central figures of the right. Ah, but maybe if Michelle Bachmann runs the table on Super Tuesday that will change.

In any case, it's clear that the central figures on the right have done a cost-benefit analysis on this sort of cultivation of ignorance, and have concluded that it does the right more good than harm.


UPDATE: Predictably, Fox Nation goes with the story, though it adds a bet-hedging question mark to the headline ("Bill Ayers Admits He Wrote Obama's 'Dreams From My Father'?"). This time the link isn't to Gateway Pundit -- it's to NewsBusters, which expresses no doubt whatsoever that the Ayers joke was a serious confession, and which (naturally) links Gateway Pundit.

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