I did the Mike Rosen show on a Denver radio station today, talking about the O’Neill / Suskind document hoax that we have detailed over the last couple of days. A caller phoned in and asked how we thought al Jazeera was covering the O’Neill story. I told the caller he made a great point, but it isn’t only al Jazeera. More important is how the BBC is covering the story, and the French and German newspapers, and other media outlets all over the world. You can be sure that international accounts of the O’Neill “expose” will be luridly anti-American; they will lack any nuance, they will not report O’Neill’s subsequent backtracking, and they certainly will not point out that the documentary evidence that purportedly supports O’Neill’s charges is a hoax.
Here is a good example from today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The Herald’s piece, titled “Bush Brought to Book,” begins:
“Former US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s portrait of George W Bush depicts a passive and superficial president surrounded by right-wing ideologues who lacks the intellectual rigour or even the curiosity to think through the effects of his policies.”
It goes downhill from there: “O’Neill asserts that with Bush unwilling or unable to read detailed briefing papers, policy was decided on and controlled by Vice President Dick Cheney, supported by political advisers Karl Rove and Karen Hughes and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice — a ‘Praetorian Guard’ that surrounded the president and kept alternative viewpoints out.
“In O’Neill’s eyes, Bush’s ‘lack of inquisitiveness or pertinent experience’ meant he did not really care about long-established positions of the US government and was willing to abandon them without scruple or regret. ‘The president started from scratch and relied on advice of ideologues without any honest brokers in sight,’ O’Neill said.
“At Cabinet meetings, it was clear Bush had not read the memos O’Neill had sent him, which he kept intentionally brief. In a one-on-one discussion about Social Security, O’Neill said the President just ‘checked out’.
“Cabinet discussions were usually pre-scripted with the outcome determined in advance. On one occasion when there was real discussion on tax policy, Bush quickly became ‘befuddled,’ according to O’Neill.”
O’Neill and (even more, I suspect) Suskind set out to hurt President Bush. Whether they succeeded in that effort remains to be seen. But there can be no doubt that they have hurt America.
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