A Propaganda Primer

by DCDave

Propaganda is the bread and butter of covert action. - Gregory Treverton

In North Korea, we are told, the only radios people are permitted to own can pick up only one station, and that station, of course, broadcasts only the government line. In the United States we have thousands of radio stations, television stations, newspapers, and magazines. But when it comes to really important matters, they, too, only report the government line. Think of what they have told us about the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Oklahoma City bombing, Pan Am 103, TWA 800, EgyptAir 990, the Waco massacre, the NAFTA, the GATT, the World Trade Organization, the death of Vincent Foster, and U.S. policy toward Iraq, Kosovo, or Palestine for starters. Whether one thinks of oneself as a conservative or a liberal and subscribes to the publications and listens to the opinion leaders appropriate to his political orientation, he will be hard-pressed to find even a single dissenting voice in any of the regular news organs on any of these important matters. Rather, what one will encounter is a chorus of name-calling for anyone with the audacity to question the official government line.

The big difference between North Korea and the United States, one is forced to conclude, is the degree of sophistication of the propaganda. In the United States the illusion of choice of information sources is maintained quite effectively, not altogether unlike the maintenance of the illusion of choice in elections. But the illusion goes well beyond the standard media. When we talk only of the government mouthpieces who make up the "mainstream,"we have only begun to plumb the depths of the propaganda sophistication in this former land of the free. This is merely the propaganda crust. Beneath it is found the propaganda sub-strata. In "America's Dreyfus Affair," we had a glimpse at a small part of the sub-strata, some of the players among the fake right. Among those identified were Christopher Ruddy, our propaganda masters' designated lead critic in the Vincent Foster case, Floyd Brown, head of Citizens United, one of those myriad groups with scant apparent means of support, and Brown's top assistant who later became Rep. Dan Burton's lead Clinton investigator, David Bossie.

We call them "fake right" because they are obviously not sincere in their opposition to the putatively left-wing powers that be, most notably the Clinton administration and its media supporters. They make a big fuss about going after the Clintons, but in the end they pull their punches and refuse to use the best evidence against them. The fake right on the propaganda crust like The Washington Times, the American Spectator, National Review, and the Weekly Standard even rip into those presenting the most powerful evidence of their criminal behavior while the fake right sub-strata, at best, look the other way.

In Dreyfus 5 we saw one very good way of identifying members of the propaganda sub-strata. That is the unjustified publicity they often receive from those on the crust. The Washington Post told us how Citizens United had two full-time researchers looking into the death of Deputy White House Counsel, Vincent Foster, researchers who curiously they didn't seem to be scoring any hits in what the military would call a target-rich environment. More recently, the liberal Newsweek, in a cover story about practitioners of the new high-tech journalism, featured nominal conservatives Matt Drudge and Christopher Ruddy, among others, while The Washington Times managed to find news in the fact that Dave Bossie had launched a web site, whose URL they thoughtfully supplied.

We will find no better example of the mainstream media steering people toward fake opposition than a rather long article that recently graced the front page of America's most widely-read newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. Here it is copied in its entirety as it appeared in the Journal's online version. The only thing missing there from the print edition was the following little box that appeared about three paragraphs down:

Lonely Causes

An occasional look at unfashionable
crusaders and their unlikely
unending crusades.

April 19, 2000


The Committee to Impeach
Clinton (Again) Gears Up

WASHINGTON -- The Committee to Impeach the President Again has crossed Independence Avenue and is advancing on the House of Representatives when it bumps into Lewis Uhler, an antitax lobbyist. Eugene Delgaudio shows him a letter the committee is hand-carrying to the Speaker of the House.

"Impeach Clinton again?" says Mr. Uhler. He claps Mr. Delgaudio on the shoulder. "Only you would be doing that," Mr. Uhler tells him. "It's not enough to roll him out at the end of the year and be done with it." The lobbyist lowers his voice for seriousness: "But at least there's a chance to press him on tax cuts."

"Unless we get rid of him first!" Mr. Delgaudio sings. At the Committee to Impeach the President Again -- on this morning it marshals three people -- Mr. Delgaudio's role might be described as impresario. He comes from New York City, where his father ran campaigns for Vito Battista, a pol who once expressed his view on the size of the budget by turning up at City Hall with an elephant. A 45-year-old rightist-for-life with a saintly smile, Mr. Delgaudio has spent 20 years crusading for assorted commissions, councils and committees, but always with a thing for theatrics. With him today is Scott Lauf, who heard Mr. Delgaudio speak at George Washington University 11 years ago and became his acolyte. "The college Republicans were country clubbers," says Mr. Lauf, who grew up in Nevada. "They wouldn't make any noise." At 28, he is a tasseled-loafer Capitol Hill regular and Mr. Delgaudio's impeach-him-again point man; on this occasion, that means he gets to tote a ream or two of letters in a cardboard box.

Also along is Jack Clayton, 60, who wears a black raincoat and stares at his feet as he talks. He says, "I come from the religious right, a term I despise. Until they acknowledge the religious left, it's a disgrace." He grew up in Alabama and sounds like a courtly preacher, with a whiff of brimstone. "I have the highest respect for Gene Delgaudio," says Mr. Clayton. "He interdicts the moralistic bloviating of contemporary liberals and economic conservatives. We crossed paths and immediately saw things in common."

Apart from a vigorous yet contained contempt for William Jefferson Clinton, what every member of the Committee to Impeach the President Again wants most is to see the guy convicted by the Senate for something. Like Japanese soldiers on a cutoff island in 1946, their war isn't over. Let independent counsels and prosecutors wave white flags (at least until the president isn't president anymore). Let a prurience-pummeled public turn to electing somebody else. The impeach-him-againers are sticking to their guns. The cause is their energizer. Defeat is no excuse for surrender.

"Maybe it's over with the trial," says Mr. Lauf, "but it isn't over with us." Mr. Clayton says, "The easy way out was to say it's all about sex; anybody who says it's all about sex has a mind that's all about emptiness." And Mr. Delgaudio: "OK, the first impeachment's over. But you can impeach many times. You build up to it. Just because it's impossible doesn't mean it's impossible. You follow? It doesn't seem doable in the current climate, but climates change. I concede no one's agitating to impeach again -- that's why we're working on it. It can all come raging back because of the work we do today."

Thus, as their friend the tax lobbyist calls, "Keep up the pressure!" the committee passes through the metal detector and into the marbled halls of the House. Their letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert objects to a federal inquiry on the possibility of policing politics on the Internet. This bears on impeachment because the committee has a Web site (Impeach Clinton Again) and because, as Mr. Delgaudio says, "we believe everything bears on impeachment."

Under a statue of the late Sen. Ernest Gruening of Alaska, Mr. Lauf confers with a guard and reports: "He says we have to deliver it here. Want to go up anyway?" Unanimous, the committee makes a break for it, quickstepping past more heroic statuary until Mr. Lauf asks another guard for directions. "Where's your pass?" says the guard. The committee turns around and meanders back.

A young woman in jeans and a sweatshirt stands behind the appointments desk. "Can you call up to the Speaker's office?" Mr. Lauf asks her. He explains about delivering the letter. "Give it to me," she says. "I'll get it to the Speaker." Mr. Lauf isn't sure. "Can you stamp it with the office you represent?" he says. "Office I represent?" says the young woman. She takes the letter, initials it and -- bang -- the Committee to Impeach the President Again is out the door.

The Way It Was

How different it was the first time around. The committee (it was just the Committee to Impeach the President then) delivered a million petitions to Congress. The day the Starr report came out, its Web site absorbed 240,000 hits. At pivotal moments, its forces took to the sidewalks, handing out little paper cups (for White House drug tests), wearing prison outfits ("Criminals for Clinton") and overcoats in August (blizzard of lies), and giving away peaches on impeachment day. They made the Washington Times twice, the Comedy Channel once -- and evoked a rude gesture from Democratic operative James Carville's chauffeur.

"It was exhilarating," says Mr. Lauf. "It got us excited."

Impeachment, however, left a broader sample of Americans totally zonked. "Oh, no!" is Debbie Vaughn's comment on the idea of a do-over. A teacher from Missouri, she is over at the National Museum of American History on another morning, checking out the Star-Spangled Banner's tattered remains. Arthur Allen, a biologist from Colorado, has three words for impeachment again: "Silly. Tedious. Redundant." And Greg, a building worker down from Boston, says, "That scandal? With the intern? What was that about?"

The committee has not forgotten. On Feb. 12, 1999, its Web site bewailed "the most shameful day in the history of the U.S. Senate," but a week after the Clinton acquittal, and every week since, it has posted an "impeachment update" bulging with impudent questions: "Is Clinton's pardon of terrorists grounds for removal?" "Is Clinton still snorting coke?" Surfers wash up 3,000 times a day; some send money. Of course, other Bill-bashing sites still abound. Yet the committee's site maintains that only real steps will finally punish that man, Mr. Clinton.

Walking Small

Real steps of the shoe-leather kind, that is. So, with the Speaker off-limits, it's time for the men who would impeach again to step across the street for a march down the long, unpoliced halls of the Cannon House Office Building, where lesser representatives and their staffers inhabit small offices behind big doors.

"What do you say when you go in?" Mr. Delgaudio directs.

"We want a response," says Mr. Lauf.

"Remember to smile," Mr. Delgaudio says. "You don't always."

And they're off, crisscrossing halls, opening doors, presenting letters, requesting responses -- and pointing out the name of their committee. Every receptionist who sees it brightens and chirps "Sure!" or "Wonderful!" Mr. Lauf chirps back, "We're hopeful," and he smiles.

Two hours and 60 offices later, they repair to a place called Tortilla Coast, take a table, order lunch and talk strategy.

"We're calling for another inquiry," Mr. Lauf says. He sips his second Dos Equis. "More is coming out every day." Mr. Clayton writes up a list of outstanding offenses and hands it across the guacamole: "Chickengate, Cattlegate, Chinagate ..." They consider demonstrating at the Maryland trial of Linda Tripp, "to make clear," Mr. Delgaudio says, "that she is, essentially, Joan of Arc."

A new impeachment bombshell could land any second.

"Look how quickly the hearings and House vote took," says Mr. Lauf. "Six weeks." Mr. Delgaudio picks up the check. "This is an in-between period," he says. "A valley." On their way out, they meet another lobbyist friend and give him and a woman he's with their protest letter. "Impeach again?" the woman says in a faint voice. "Again?" The lobbyist introduces her as Paige Ralston, deputy press secretary to none other than the Speaker of the House. Outside, Mr. Delgaudio is exultant. "See! We got to Hastert!"

"That guy Gene," says Mr. Clayton. "He can convert red lights to green lights better than anybody in D.C."

As the Committee to Impeach the President Again pushes back up Capitol Hill, Mr. Lauf has a spring in his step. "This," he says, "is going to be a great year."

Write to Barry Newman at barry.newman@wsj.com

No doubt you noticed the mocking tone, the contrast between these obvious buffoons and sober, sensible citizens who want to pretend that everything is just fine with our leadership. You might have also noticed that the article had absolutely nothing of substance in it. There was nothing that one might call news.

It might not be news, but it's certainly good propaganda. See how they managed to provide the whole country with the group's web site. If you hadn't guessed by now, they are one of the more egregious fake right outfits that I identified in Dreyfus 5. Here is some of what I had to say: 

...another patently phony Clinton-opposition group accounts for no more than a flickering zephyr in [Dan E.] Moldea's "political firestorm" account, but he appears to take them seriously, nonetheless (The reference is to Moldea's book, "Washington Tragedy, How the Death of Vincent Foster Ignited a Political Firestorm."). That is the bizarre outfit that fashions itself the Clinton Investigative Commission. In his penultimate endnote, Moldea credits "investigative reporter" Byron York of The American Spectator with having written a "hilarious expose" of the group (speaking of outfits lacking evident economic viability, the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, Moldea tells us in his text, had a review by York of Ruddy's book in which he concluded "the conspiracy theorists simply have too much invested in their scenarios to conclude that the evidence proves them wrong."). One can't help wondering what awesome investigative and literary skills York had to bring to bear to make this crew appear ridiculous. It could hardly be more obvious that their entire reason for being is to make all suspicions of the Foster death appear almost humorously absurd. That our clandestine community has gone to such lengths as to manufacture such ruses is just about the best evidence we have that we are dealing with something far more important here than a simple suicide. Consider the fact that on Saturday, October 19, 1997, (It would be a Saturday.) The Washington Times, on the heels of its ringing endorsement of the Starr suicide conclusion, permitted under the heading "More questions than answers on Vince Forster (sic)," its first and only skeptical letters to date on the Foster case. The first and by far the longest of the letters almost comically mixes up the facts in the case. It is signed "Scott Lauf, Director of communications, Clinton Investigative Commission, Annandale (VA)." Lauf maintains once again that Foster was left-handed, the apparently erroneous assertion over which Ruddy had been crucified on national TV by Mike Wallace, and tells us that park policeman Kevin Fornshill "stated to the FBI that there was no gun in Mr. Foster's hand, that both palms were face up and his arms were laid by his side as if in a coffin." (Here he is putting the testimony of several other witnesses into the mouth of Fornshill, who, in fact, claims not to have seen a gun, but he said that after discovering the body he never bothered to look to see if there was a gun in the hand.). 

We also noted that in the group's hokey initial fund-raising letter about the Foster case, a fictitious address was provided for the group's purported parent organization.

Although the name is not given in the Wall Street Journal article, the web site tells us that this is, indeed, the same old Clinton Investigative Commission peddling the same old easily-discredited malarkey about Vincent Foster's death. With a little browsing around, we find this article:

The Unsolved Mystery between Vince Foster & the White House 

by Scott Lauf March 17, 1999

One of the greatest unsolved scandals of the Clinton presidency is the death of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, whose corpse was discovered in Ft. Marcy Park, VA on July 20, 1993. Barely six months into the first term of President Clinton had passed and the Grim Reaper had visited the White House. The intense controversy and immense pressure from the Oval Office forced two independent counsels, congressional committees, and numerous media outlets to fastidiously jump to the conclusion that this death was a suicide.

But the Clinton Investigative Commission brought national and international attention to the many inconsistencies and descrepancies (sic) of the Foster death, alone in the political arena for quite some time. We were joined by many larger and now more famous groups, authors and writers later.

Three months before the Lewinsky scandal captured the news headlines for all of 1998, Ken Starr's "official" report on the death of Vince Foster in October 1997 was intended to be the final verdict on this case, and thus forever silence those who believe he was murdered.

The report said Mr. Foster was clinically depressed and therefore took his own life. Furthermore, gunshot residue was found on his mouth and a revolver was found in his right hand substantiating the suicide theory.

While Starr may have done a fine job in presenting evidence to Congress of perjury and obstruction in the Lewinsky matter, he has utterly failed in his duties to look into the far more egregious and controversial crimes like Filegate, Whitewater, Travelgate ---- and, of course, the death of Vince Foster. But rather than question Starr himself for his reasons to ignore these other crimes, it is more worthy to criticize his ridiculous report which is still being cited by Clinton supporters as the end-all-be-all of the Foster tragedy. For far too long his report has left too many unanswered questions which have yet to be addressed.

To start with a blatant discrepancy of logic, Mr. Foster was left-handed. So why was the gun found in his right hand, as the Starr report asserts? Furthermore, the probability of the gun remaining in his hand from a self-inflicted gunshot is practically impossible and defies the laws of physics.

While Mr. Starr cites various experts and witnesses to buttress his theory, he clearly ignores those who paint a different picture. The testimony of park policeman Kevin Fornshill, who was the first to arrive at the scene, stated to the FBI that there was no gun in Mr. Foster's hand, that both palms were face up and his arms were laid out as if he was ready for a coffin. And then there is Patrick Knowlton, a passer-by in the park who told the FBI he saw two cars --- one with Arkansas plates and a man in the driver's seat --- in the parking lot shortly before Mr. Foster's body was discovered.

Other anomalies have surfaced over the years in this strange death. Where was Mr. Foster in the missing three hours before his death? Why was the bullet not found in the park after an extensive FBI search which even uncovered Civil War-era musket balls? Why were semen, blond hair and carpet fibers found on Mr. Foster's clothes, but not ground soil on his shoes? Why were items removed from Mr. Foster's office by White House staffers before the FBI came? Why was the "suicide note" forged and then torn into 27 pieces, only later to be discovered in Mr. Foster's briefcase?

All of these questions remain unanswered because they can't be answered. Vince Foster was murdered. The only real mystery is the actual motive --- or motives. But the First Couple would rather you not know about Foster and his seedy dealings with them which date back to their days in Little Rock in the 1980s. The truth about Foster would forever tarnish their so-called "legacy."

The Clinton Investigative Commission brought these descrepancies (sic) to light in the largest direct mail campaign against an incumbent president in American history. The resulting outrage brought pressure on Congress to impeach Clinton the first time and inspired dozens of other independent efforts, additional studies and commentaries, books by authors and campaigns against Bill Clinton's cover-up.

Again, the Clinton Investigative Commisssion (sic) brings attention to this crime. Until it is solved.

But the Clintons do know there is still lingering evidence out there which points directly to the White House and they will do anything to prevent it from coming to light. Let us all pray that the truth will be told before other "mysterious" deaths become statistics in the infamous Clinton Body Bag.

To obtain a copy of the report of CIC's extensive investigation into the murder of Vince Foster, please send request to CIC Foster Report, P.O. Box 97171, Washington, DC 20090-7171, or e-mail lauf@impeachclinton.org.

To the old erroneous information about the witness Kevin Fornshill we now have added new erroneous information about the witness Patrick Knowlton. Knowlton did see two cars in Fort Marcy Park and one had Arkansas tags, but he didn't see anyone in it. The main significance of what he saw is that the car did not fit the description of Foster's car and Foster was already dead in the back of the park. Knowlton's insistence in sticking to his account is what got him harassed on the streets of Washington, DC, and why he has filed suit against several government officials, some of whom work for the FBI. You can read all this genuine, accurate news for yourself at FBI Cover Up

Mr. Lauf is also quite misleading when he suggests that only Clinton supporters have hailed the Starr report on Foster. All the fake right organs on the propaganda crust have, too, and that includes the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times. Mr. Lauf would no more point this fact out than the Journal or the Times would report on the existence of fbicover-up.com or tell us that the Starr report had a 20-page letter from Knowlton's lawyer attached to it by order of the three-judge panel that appointed Starr, and that the letter provides an abundance of genuine evidence that utterly destroys the suicide-from-depression thesis.

As a matter of fact, Lauf and the Clinton Investigative Commission won't tell us that, either. By all means, go to the web site. You will find there the links to the usual suspects, Christopher Ruddy, Floyd Brown, Dave Bossie, etc., but as of April 26, 2000, you will not see any mention of fbicover-up.com, with its genuine news of government scandal. When the propagandists at the Wall Street Journal give someone publicity, even if it is to make sport of them, they don't take any chances.

David Martin
April 26, 2000

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