"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

February 23, 2006

Media Matters takes on a subject rarely discussed, the implicit support by the Bush Administration of Republican-backed media smear campaigns against dissident opinion. Intro:

Vice President Dick Cheney's recent accidental shooting of a hunting companion offered yet another example of an unmistakable pattern with the Bush administration, which few in the media have noted. When faced with potential political damage stemming from its actions or decisions, the Bush White House attacks those fomenting the criticism. Administration officials and Republican surrogates surface throughout the media to smear or discredit the source of the controversy. Following these efforts, Cheney or President Bush then take to the airwaves and appear to temper the debate. In their statements, they express respect for the subject of the earlier attacks, accept responsibility for the actions being criticized, and assert their support for fair political discourse -- all the while benefiting from whatever discrediting their surrogates' smears brought on their targets.

In their coverage of these comments, news outlets regularly depict Bush and Cheney as having taken the high road. But while framing the president and vice president as above the fray, these outlets often ignore that the administration itself generated, participated in, or at least did nothing to stop the earlier attacks. The Cheney hunting accident, the John Murtha controversy, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smear campaign -- each of these events offers an example of this pattern and the media's complicity in it....

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