Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fooled Again.....

By Mark Crispin Miller

It should come as no surprise that I was not much pleased by Farhad Manjoo's attack on Fooled Again. Manjoo charges that my book presents "no proof" that Bush & Co. committed vast election fraud last year. In fact, the evidence in Fooled Again is both abundant and precise; whereas Manjoo's review itself presents no evidence to back its central accusation. "Miller's many suggestions of fraud dissolve under close scrutiny," writes Manjoo--who then comes up with just one trivial and dubious example: my passing reference to a certain fishy bloc of pro-Bush ballots cast (or not) in Ohio's Miami County on Election Day. Manjoo treats this mere aside as if it were the basis of my argument, devoting two whole paragraphs to a laborious rebuttal. Meanwhile, he cites none of the extensive evidence that Fooled Again includes.

Indeed, Manjoo himself admits the comprehensiveness of my research: "To make his case, Miller cites hundreds of news accounts, online reports and videos, and postings from sites like Democratic Underground." And yet your readers could not know that Fooled Again includes, along with such a careful overview, much new information on Bush/Cheney's global frauds, from the computerized purge of Democratic voters from the rolls in Summit and Stark Counties in Ohio, to the pre-election break-ins at Democratic offices in Akron and Toledo (the thieves stole only those computers that contained election data), to the myriad statewide drives to disenfranchise black, Hispanic and Native American voters, to the stealthy criminal shenanigans of Sproul and Associates, which deftly disenfranchised countless would-be Kerry voters in at least half a dozen states across the country (a ploy that cost the RNC over 8 million dollars), to Bush/Cheney's grand subversion of the huge vote cast, or intended, by Americans abroad (a stroke that likely disappeared at least two million Kerry votes). The evidence of all such perfidy, and plenty more, is solid, copious and easily available, despite Manjoo's bizarre insistence that there's nothing there. (Indeed, I found some of that evidence in his own pre-election writings, which is why I thank him warmly on p. 349 of Fooled Again.)

Manjoo tries to build his case by lauding Mark Hertsgaard's attempt, in the latest issue of Mother Jones, to cast doubt on the "theory" that Bush/Cheney stole the election in Ohio. (Manjoo repeats Hertsgaard's canard that Fooled Again deals mainly with the fraud committed in that state.) I take no pleasure in reporting it, as Hertsgaard is an old friend of mine, but that piece too is full of holes. Those points of his that Manjoo finds especially compelling are in fact untenable.

First, Hertsgaard avers that Sherole Eaton, a Democratic whistle-blower in Ohio's Hocking County, told him that she really "{doesn't} know if there was fraud" committed there--a claim that Eaton has indignantly denied. (Her words were taken out of context, she complained to Mother Jones: "I suggest that you assign someone else to write an article on the same subject without any slant.") Manjoo also seconds Hertsgaard's argument that there was certainly no fraud in Warren County--where a sudden "terrorist alert" allowed officials to eject reporters from the premises before the votes were counted. (Warren was among the last Ohio counties to report their tallies on Election Night.) Hertsgaard bases his contention on the say-so of "a Democrat" who told him that that "terrorist alert" was not suspicious. But Hertsgaard fails to note the FBI's denial, on Nov. 3, that there had really been a terrorist alert, nor does he tell us that the plan to sound that false alarm had been in place for some nine days. (Both stories were reported in the Cincinatti Enquirer.) Hertsgaard also fails to mention two eyewitnesses who claim that, after the "alert," ballots were improperly diverted to an unofficial storage site managed by a GOP operative. (Hertsgaard was told about those witnesses by attorney Bob Fitrakis, but evidently did not try to reach them.)

Both Manjoo and Hertsgaard have dismissed my book as an extended exercise in wishful thinking by a diehard partisan, portraying themselves as skeptical, hard-headed journalists, devoted only to "the facts." But it is they who are the partisans; for in their staunch refusal to perceive the glaring evidence of fraud, they are merely echoing the tense accommodationism of the over-cautious Democratic Party. In other words, they claim to see "no story" in last year's race because the Democrats (with all too few exceptions) claim there isn't one--a sort of faith-based journalism every bit as dangerous as the kind that has us fighting in Iraq. Surely we must base our civic conduct on reality itself, and not on what the stars of either party claim "reality" to be.

This brings me, finally, to John Kerry's role in the far right's ongoing struggle for dominion. Manjoo begins his rant with a sarcastic take on the brief controversy over my exchange with Kerry, in Manhattan on Oct. 28, on the theft of the 2004 election. Manjoo hints that I was lying about Kerry's claim that he believes the race was stolen, as Kerry's office had denied we ever had that conversation (and, of course, whatever Kerry says is true). If Manjoo were a less partisan reporter, he would have noted Robert Parry's article, posted on on Oct. 29, revealing that Jonathan Winer, a longtime adviser to the senator, confirms that Kerry has suspected all along that last year's race was stolen, but never said so, fearing general ridicule. "'The powers in place would have smashed him,' Winer said."

But this is not about John Kerry's image, any more than it's about the sales of Fooled Again, or about Salon's political position, or Farhad Manjoo's or Mark Hertsgaard's career. It's about the mammoth threat confronting this republic, which will not last if we continue to ignore the scandal of last year's election. If anyone should be attacked, it's those extremists who conspire against American democracy, and not those citizens who try to talk about it.

Mark Crispin Miller


Mark Crispin Miller is professor of media studies at New York University and a frequent guest commentator on a wide array of TV and radio programs and on the Internet. His writings on film, television, propaganda, advertising, and the culture industries have appeared in numerous journals and newspapers. He is from time to time a BuzzFlash contributor, and his book, Fooled Again, is a current BuzzFlash premium.



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