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Cry Wolf…Let Slip The Dogs Of War

If you ever wondered how those fact-free, invective-filled right wing talking point missives imbed as news nuggets, wonder no more.  Tristero recently highlighted a Buzzflash article from Drs. Neil Wollman and Abigail A. Fuller entitled "How Does Right-Wing Media Craft Its Message?"  It’s been expanded, and is up at Digby’s.

I heartily suggest a full reading of it, in conjunction with this series from Jane:  This Is How It’s Done, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV

It is this point, in particular, from the Tristero piece that I want to highlight:

Use loaded terminology to describe a disliked program. For example, use "death tax" instead of inheritance tax or "class warfare" to describe Democratic support of a more progressive tax to benefit lower-income Americans. (George Lakoff has discussed this in his work on political rhetoric.) An accompanying tactic is to make repeated negative associations with key concepts or constituencies so that they conjure up negative feelings (as with "Liberal" or "trial lawyer").  (emphasis mine)

On cue, old Novak rises from the crypt of dead memes with this today:

…The true reason for blocking the bill was Senate-passed retroactive immunity to protect from lawsuits private telecommunications firms asked to eavesdrop by the government. The nation’s torts bar, vigorously pursuing such suits, has spent months lobbying hard against immunity.

The recess by House Democrats amounts to a judgment that losing the generous support of trial lawyers, the Democratic Party’s most important financial base, would be more dangerous than losing the anti-terrorist issue to Republicans. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the phone companies for giving individuals’ personal information to intelligence agencies without a warrant. Mike McConnell, the nonpartisan director of national intelligence, says delay in congressional action deters cooperation in detecting terrorism.

Good lord, that’s a fact free load of hooey, isn’t it? When, exactly, did the ACLU and the EFF switch from being non-profit issue-oriented groups to "trial lawyers"?  Or standing up for the rule of law become lobby-esque?  Oh, that’s right, they did not. Poor deliberately lying confused Bob Novak.  Nothing like repeating some right-wing, focus-grouped spew.

From where does this sort of idiocy eminate?  From a few wingnutty blogs, then by Rep. Boehner on Faux News for a trial run last fall.  And then…I’ll let emptywheel take it:

It must have polled well, because Dick is developing into an elaborate metaphor including a dig at trial lawyers.

One of the main things we need in there, for example, is retroactive liability protection for the companies that have worked with us and helped us prevent further attacks against the United States —

[snip]

RUSH: The opposition in the Senate is primarily from Democrats, correct?

CHENEY: Correct. People who don’t want to — I guess want to leave open the possibility that the trial lawyers can go after a big company that may have helped.  (emphasis mine)

I wonder how the ACLU and EFF feel about being labeled trial lawyers?

Hello, Dick and Rush.  Not exactly shocked, are you?  From there, it landed with Dana Perino’s WH mouthpiece unit, echoed all over the wingnutosphere, finally landing in an RNC press release.  And on to Novak this morning.  It’s like playing a craven game of Six Degrees of Wurlitzer, isn’t it?

The fact that the claim is factually inaccurate, piggybacking on the fearmongering inaccuracies by raising the favorite wingnutty spectre of "an evil trial lawyer lobby" inaccurately?  That they have been trying, unsuccessfully, to float out this idiotic meme for months now?  Or that it was wholly manufactured as a wurlitzer pot stirrer?  Or that even the conservative CATO Institute has called bullshit?   Or that the telecoms have lobbyied for months on this — spending oodles of cash and hours doing so on the Hill?  If at first you don’t succeed, sty, sty again, eh, Bob?

Cry wolf…let slip the dogs of war.

UPDATE:  Oh look, Matt Stoller actually spoke with the trial lawyers and they laugh in the general direction of the wingnutties:

No matter how much the RNC – at the bidding of telecomm CEOs – tries to deflect the real issue, we have nothing to do with illegal wiretapping since we actually believe in the rule of law.

Well, that was simple, wasn’t it?

(H/T to Julia, Peterr, Marcy, and dakine for e-mailing me various bits of this.  Thanks much!)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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