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Thursday, May 27, 2004
 
The Most Honest Liars In The World

We don't know whether the
stories are true, and we don't really care. When we inform people,
it's usually an accident.”


Eddie Clontz (1948-2004), Editor — Weekly World News


In some cases, there was no
follow-up at all.”


New York Times' Apology to its readers: May 26, 2004


I was being chided by a co-worker over my Weekly World News
addiction the other day (yes, I bought another one ... but it had an
alien space baby on the cover!), when it became increasingly apparent
that she actually thought I was a credulous dolt for reading it.


That's when I got fed up. The Weekly
World News
, one of the greatest, most acidic, most
mind-warpingly delicious publications of our age ... for idiots?!


How can anyone not see the subversive satire in a story
claiming that Saddam
Hussein's WMD's
have been found ... accompanied by a crudely
photoshopped picture of a 160-foot-tall slingshot standing upright in
the stark Mesopotamian desert? Who else would take a recent British
theory
about dinosaur extinction
and turn it into a darkly-comedic
parable of Fundo America's phobia over gay marriage? What other
publication would possess the genius to conjure up a bug-eyed,
bug-eating, gibbering, troglodytic dwarf
, and then spin
him
into an iconic Everyman
for our modern times?


Truthful?
Who cares?!
The Weekly World News makes no attempt to give a damn about
whether or not its stories are true; and in return, its readers don't
expect anything in the publication to have even a molecule of
veracity about it. That was the deal struck long ago, and all parties
involved have been happily abiding by it since then.


“Who's the fool,” I snapped back at my co-worker. “The
person who reads ludicrous, obviously made up stories that he knows
to be untrue ... or the person who absorbs lies presented to him as
truth by mainstream media outlets every day, and accepts them
unreservedly?”


Or something like that I'm going from memory here.


Then, on the very day that I delivered this street-corner rant to
my co-worker, the New York Times finally admitted
as much
to its readership:


Over the last year this newspaper
has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the
United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American
and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq's weapons
and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have
studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is
past time we turned the same light on ourselves.


...


... we have found a number of
instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have
been.
In some cases, information that was controversial then, and
seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to
stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more
aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged —
or failed to emerge.


The Times kindly follows up on their apology with a page
linking to literally
dozens of stories
it had published on Iraq in recent years, so
that its credulous readers can engage in a little fact-checking for
themselves. How kind of the Times to come clean
damned
tardy
, but kind.


All successful lies are conspiracies. The liar, on one side of the
conspiracy, presents a coherent pseudo-truth that he knows could
be acceptable, given the proclivities of his audience. On the other
side are the willing believers, who choose to accept the lie because
it stands within the established boundaries of what they want to
believe anyway.


The media have been part of just such a conspiracy over Iraq, even as they
claim to have been as duped as the rest the country over it. To put
forth the notion that they have been so consistently and aggressively
fooled for such a long time defies reason, and certainly betrays
their alleged position as the steely threshers of the information
weedpatch.



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