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April 6, 2007

April Fools’ Day — Leftwing Conspiracy Bloggers Take the Bait … Again!

“Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” –Thomas Jefferson

Leftwing bloggers, and their likeminded media outlets, are bursting with political conspiracy theories and frauds.

One of the nuttier theories making the rounds (thanks to Rosie O'Donnell and Charlie Sheen) is that the Bush administration orchestrated the 9/11 attack. (See “Useful Idiots: Back in style!”.)

Turns out that crazy conspiracy theories, once thought to be the exclusive domain of so-called “right-wingers,” now trace most of their origins to leftwing conspiracy theorists.

Case in point.

Coptix a Chattanooga, Tennessee based technology outfit, demonstrated this week how quickly an altered photograph can be lifted by leftwing bloggers, and submitted as conclusive evidence of yet another Bush administration cover up and conspiracy.

Recently, some leftwing blogheads concluded that Bush advisor Karl Rove might be using Coptix e-mail servers to bypass White House e-mail servers in order to communicate about fired U.S. Attorneys, and leave no official trail of those communications.

How and why they reached those conclusions is too convoluted to explain without a whiteboard and all afternoon, but suffice it to say that the leftwing blogger soil is always fertile for seeds of “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

On April 1st – that would be April Fools’ Day – Coptix released an altered photograph of Karl Rove, with a folder under his arm labeled “Coptix.” (Rove and President Bush visited Chattanooga recently – must have been to meet with the cloak-and-dagger techies at Coptix). The photograph was quickly picked up by popular leftwing blogs who proclaimed it “proves without doubt that Karl Rove is illegally running all the White House e-mail through a private company.”

Indeed, the faked photo led to a feeding frenzy on leftwing blogs, exposing them for the fraud they are.

Mission accomplished – but case not closed.

Chattanooga’s local print daily, The Times Free Press, has chastised the folks at Coptix, and called on such luminaries as Carol Darr, director of George Washington University’s Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, for comment. Darr surmised the doctored image was a “dirty trick,” adding, “You’re putting something out there that is deliberately deceptive [and] it’s is just simply a lie.”

More accurately, it would have been a “dirty trick” had some Leftwing group created this photo and then built a case around it. Clearly, the Coptix creation is nothing more than “deliberately” humorous.

A follow-up article in the TFP suggests that the “honor system does not work on the Web,” implying somehow, that the honor system works in print and on TV. They found a few more media types to second that opinion.

Poynter Institute’s Bob Steele was quoted as saying, “the same standards for honesty and verification apply to anyone who says he or she is practicing some form of journalism.” University of Georgia associate professor Barry Hollander insists, “It is often true that technology runs ahead of ethics. [Altering photos] is very easy to do.”

More to the point, how about these photographs from Reuters, Associated Press and USNWR – all published in just one month in an attempt to discredit Israel?

Of course, most of the bias in print publications appears in the text, not photographs.

In an e-mail regarding the Rove image from my friend Tom Griscom, former communications director for [Ronald Reagan |http://Reagan2020.US/] and now The Times Free Press publisher, he posits, “How do you sort through fact and fiction on the Internet? On both sides of the political aisle, information is posted as fact but is there a fact checker?”

I replied, “How do you sort through fact and fiction in newspapers? On both sides of the political aisle, information is posted as fact but is there a fact checker?”

No answer.

Unfortunately, Griscom does not distinguish between Internet blogs and news sites, perhaps because the term “blog” has become ubiquitous.

Blogs, right and left, are little more than Internet outlets populated, for the most part, with blathering dolts. Blogs should not be confused with Internet news sites any more than the TFP’s online edition should be confused with that of the National Inquirer. I would add, however, that readers of both Internet and print news outlets should exercise some degree of skepticism about “facts” as presented.

For the record, while the debate about accuracy in the media is just as valid in print and TV as on the Internet, the Coptix prank has nothing to do with that debate. Coptix pulled a clever April Fools’ Day prank, and punked all the fools operating leftwing blogs – end of story.

(Mark Alexander is the Recipient of the 2007 Accuracy in Media Award for Grassroots Journalism. For additional comments on media bias, link to his Topical Essays page).

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