By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Can’t read — or can’t tell the truth?

In a response to one of his critics in this thread, Gregg Jackson makes a number of outrageous assertions about me. Today I would like to deal with just one, because it is provably false, and because there is reason to assume Jackson knew it was false when he wrote it. Amusingly enough, it is the very thread that he has closed and to which I cannot respond.

Jackson writes:

Yet Mr. Kennedy denies the fact that the only person who “lied” who tried to manipulate the evidence for going to war was partisan Democratic hack Joe Wilson — a proven liar himself.

Jackson originally brought up former ambassador Wilson in this thread on Media Nation, in which he attempted to refute some points I’d made in reviewing Eric Boehlert’s book about President Bush and the press, “Lapdogs.” In response to Jackson’s post, I wrote (among other things):

I have been calling Joe Wilson a liar for years. Do you not realize that? Just yesterday, I referred to his “headline-seeking and dissembling.” Indeed, a joint congressional investigation found that Wilson’s trip to Niger lent more support, not less, to the notion that Saddam had sought yellowcake. Still, though — the White House outed an undercover CIA operative.

That Jackson would then go ahead and write that I had “denied” Wilson is a liar shows not just that he’s willing to lie himself, but that he’s reckless as well. Or maybe he can’t read.

Now, as to my contention that I’ve been a Wilson critic for several years, here are a few things I’ve written about the former ambassador, all of them easily found online:

  • From Dec. 4, 2003: “Wilson was already hurting the cause with his aggressive media whoredom.”
  • From July 16, 2004: “The Senate Intelligence Committee report released last week, which was highly critical of the faulty intelligence on which the White House built its case for war, nevertheless found that former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s February 2002 trip to Niger actually bolstered the case that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake…. For good measure, the intelligence committee suggests that Wilson has been disingenuous in denying that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, had recommended him for the Niger mission.”
  • From Sept. 30, 2005: “Wilson wrote an op-ed piece for the Times in July 2003 criticizing the administration for ignoring a mission he had undertaken to Niger, a mission that led him to conclude that Saddam Hussein had not sought to obtain uranium from that country. One theory is that Karl Rove and Libby blew Plame’s cover to Novak and other journalists in order to retaliate against Wilson. Then, too, it later turned out that Slick Wilson didn’t tell the whole truth in his op-ed.”
  • From Oct. 28, 2005: “Discerning Media Nation readers know that I am not an admirer of Joseph Wilson, the Bush administration critic married to former undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson.”
  • From June 14, 2006: “Former ambassador Wilson’s own headline-seeking and dissembling … has always made this a more complicated matter than most critics of the Bush administration are willing to admit.”

Although it’s hard to tell from Jackson’s syntax, I think he’s also claiming that I’ve accused President Bush of lying to make the case for the war in Iraq. I don’t believe that is an assertion I ever made, and it’s not a view I hold.

I’ve always believed Bush went to war for three reasons:

  1. Because he was convinced it would be easy.
  2. Because he genuinely believed the neocon idealists who told him it would enable the United States to establish a beachhead in the Middle East from which democracy, human rights and all kinds of wonderfulness would inevitably spread.
  3. Because he was absolutely certain that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction — so certain that he was uninterested in the actual evidence.

Does Jackson care about the truth? The next couple of days should tell.

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Two arguments down


Chris Lydon’s “New England Common”


  1. mike_b1

    I would rather know he had lied than learn that no. 3 (“Because he was absolutely certain that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction — so certain that he was uninterested in the actual evidence”) were true. That would show our president to have an even more frightening lack of judgment than I had considered possible.

  2. Rick in Duxbury

    Dan,I’m right of center on many, perhaps most issues. Having read as much as my elderly stomach could stand of Mr. Jackson however, he is, IMHO, a moron. He has done for “my” side what Michael Moore has done for the left. His inept handling of the facts doesn’t negate their validity, however. Watching you spend this much time on him is like watching Mike Tyson disassemble Peter McNeely. What has been proven? Has anyone’s mind been changed? Have any mouth-breathers, left or right, had an epiphany? Why not just ignore him instead of imparting reflected credibility?

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Rick — Hmm, I don’t know. I understand what you’re saying. You’re not the only one to suggest, in blog comments and privately, that I should just ignore Jackson. That was kind of how I felt at first. But he’s attacking me and lying about me — and he’s got a radio show, a book and a blog, so I think it may be wishful thinking to believe he’s entirely inconsequential. Given that he’s attained some level of notoriety, I think he ought to be exposed for what he is.

  4. Charles Foster Kane

    Dan is absolutely right. Given Jackson’s pathological need to trumpet his “wins” over people and his rhetorical crutch of “liberals don’t argue with facts and logic” he needs to be exposed. While I think Rick is probably right that showing Jackson’s mendacious nature won’t change any minds, one can always hope. I do have to take exception to Rick’s comment that “his [Jackon’s] inept handling of the facts doesn’t negate their validity”. This is true. The real problem is that the conclusions he draws from the facts are specious.

  5. Rick in Duxbury

    Charles,I’m not convinced he’s bright enough to be “mendacious”, thus my original post. Seeing the world as they wish it were (rather than as it is) has been a trait of well-intentioned dolts for some time now. My complaint is that he’s guilty of the common “progressive” mistake of starting with his conclusion and working backwards(ironic). The facts stand on their own. They don’t need Mooresque dissembling distracting from their truth.Dan,What are the numbers for “Beat the Press” vs. Sunday night on 680? I just think it is sad that some of his guests, who are pretty good, have to settle for that lame venue.

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