Independent Christian Voice

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"Reality" on the right vs. reality

In a recent discussion thread on OKCTalk.com, I cited a study that found a higher frequency of misperceptions about the facts by those who watch Fox News over other media outlets. One person wondered how that could be. The answer is simple: the facts are often distorted, misrepresented or just not reported. Although conservative talk radio never claims to be "news," it is a disseminator of information to a large segment of our country — for some the only source of information. When these talk radio programs offer information as fact, their listeners accept it as fact. Just like the "father of lies" in the Christian faith, these purveyors of propaganda include a nugget of truth that makes the information appear credible, but they surround that small factual nugget with gross distortion and misrepresentation of the entire context of facts. Case in point: Rush Limbaugh claimed Bush administration never said Iraq war would be quick or easy and ignored numerous statements by officials in lead-up to war.
Quote:
Courtesy Media Matters On the August 24 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the Iraq war "has always been portrayed as something that's gonna be hard" and that "the ease with which all this was gonna happen was never stated." In fact, several Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, did predict a short and easy process of regime change in Iraq, ignoring warnings from the intelligence community that the aftermath to the initial battles in Iraq would pose numerous difficult challenges. Responding to a sound bite from NBC's Today, in which MSNBC host Chris Matthews asserted that members of the Bush administration "were wrong" in their original estimation that the Iraq war would be quick and easy, Limbaugh stated:
LIMBAUGH: No, Chris. Again, you missed it, and nobody ever said that it's gonna be like walkin' in and playin' baseball the next day. That's in your dreams. This has always been portrayed as something that's gonna be hard; it's part of the war on terror and no end date was ever given, and the ease with which all this was gonna happen was never stated.
In a subsequent segment on his August 24 show, Limbaugh acknowledged the presence of "a contingent of people on the left who will never forget the fact that some in the Defense Department said the Iraqis will be cheering us in the streets as we arrive, and that it will be a cakewalk and that we don't need to plan for any aftermath," but he failed to address the claims of this "contingent." In fact, despite Limbaugh's denials, several top Bush administration officials have made specific predictions about the duration and difficulty of achieving regime change in Iraq:
  • On the March 16, 2003, broadcast of CBS' Face the Nation, Cheney stated: "I think [the war will] go relatively quickly." When host Bob Schieffer pressed the vice president to offer a more precise estimate of how long the war would take, Cheney replied: "Weeks rather than months." On NBC's Meet the Press the same day, Cheney stated, "my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators [by the Iraqi people]."
  • In a February 7, 2003, appearance at Aviano Air Base in Italy, Rumsfeld projected that the Iraq war "could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
  • In a February 13, 2002, Washington Post op-ed, Ken Adelman, at the time a member of the Defense Policy Board, stated: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps."
Moreover, as Media Matters for America previously noted, the Bush administration failed to foresee or plan for an extended U.S. occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, despite numerous warnings from the intelligence community before the war. Prior to the start of the Iraq war, the consensus among the intelligence community was that "winning the peace in Iraq could be much harder than winning a war," Knight Ridder reported on October 17, 2004. A February 7, 2003, memo from three State Department bureau chiefs warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally." Yet evidence suggests these warnings were largely ignored. Then-deputy secretary of defense Paul D. Wolfowitz acknowledged these failures in a July 23 Washington Post article, stating that defense officials made several assumptions that "turned out to underestimate the problem."
Without the historical context, Limbaugh's comments are difficult to challenge. But, in light of the facts — i.e. the actual statements made by officials as well as the actual history — Limbaugh is, once again, wrong in his information and providing a gross disservice to his listeners. I love (and quote often) the line used by one of the forum's member in their signature signature, "My mind is made up so don't confuse me with the facts." Blind allegiance to demonstrably slanted sources of news and information only exacerbates ignorance and foolish thinking. Without the facts and balanced perspective of information, it's hard to make wise decisions when it comes to support for an idea, political agenda or national policy. This applies to both sides of the political spectrum. This polarization to only get information from like-minded information sources has led to alternate realities for those on the right and those on the left. It has led to the great divide that is literally tearing this country apart. Neither side has a monopoly on the truth. In fact, anyone who limits their exposure to information to like-minded sources cannot have a firm grasp of the unfiltered truth. Denying this is only putting your head in the sand. And it's hard to see where to go or what to do when your head is in the sand.

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