Thursday, May 26, 2005

Fricasseeing the media, part LXVIII

The SecDef’s denial that he authorized the possible shoot-down of the small plane that strayed into restricted DC airspace sounds straightforward. But the way that it cleverly plays into the Bush administration's war on the media – and the media’s predicament with unnamed sources – is a little too convenient:

Rumsfeld said: "It was two anonymous sources, and, of course, it wasn't true. I never even got on the phone to discuss the circumstances of the little plane."

This has some of the telltale signs of a non-denial denial – the vague statement that something is “not true” followed by a choice-but-extraneous detail to give the statement some factual heft. In fact, the disagreement over the "truth" of the story may hinge on semantic details such as what technically constitutes "authorization."

And whatever Rumsfeld did, he didn't have to do it by phone.

As the DOD spokesman in the story says, “I guess it depends on how you want to parse it.”

Meanwhile, it’s another opportunity to knock the media for an alleged misstep in trying to penetrate the veil of secrecy that Rumsfeld & Co. themselves have created. Damn, these guys are good.