Anyone Else Smell A Rat?
By Robert Pagani
I'm writing this in the early morning of December 13th. The Feds have
promised--sort of--to release the "smoking gun" video tape of
Osama binLaden later today. Obviously, I haven't seen it yet. As a
result, I'm somewhat torn; part of me says I should wait until I've seen the
video before writing what's on my mind. Another part says screw it, go ahead and
just write it, let's see how right I turn out to be when the tape finally airs
(IF it finally airs). I haven't lived a very cautious life up to now, so I guess
I'll just continue to listen to the second little voice and let 'er fly.
I'm not going to be a friggin' weasel like John Ashcroft who says that anyone
who criticizes the administration is a "terrorist" and the next day,
after editorials all over the country rip him a new asshole, has his PR person
say that he was misquoted (even though his statements were completely
unambiguous and recorded on videotape). If I turn out to be wrong, I'll be man
enough to say so.
OK, about that tape...well, for starters, the government says that it was
found in an abandoned house in Jalalabad. Um, anybody else find it strange
that there would be a video tape just lying around a home in a country in which
television is ILLEGAL? Yes, the Taliban banned TV some time back, so
what's with the tape? You need a VCR in Jalalabad like Ray Charles needs
binoculars. Remember the Springsteen song 57 channels and nothing's on?
That's how it is in Afghanistan (except for the "57 channels"
part). All nothing, all the time.
Even if we somehow get past the conundrum of a Binbusters in NoTVLand, we're
left with another riddle. The reason the government has given for the
delay in showing this tape (which supposedly contains the "best
evidence" of binLaden's involvement in the horrendous events of Sept. 11)
is that the tape is of "poor quality". So bad is the tape that
as of late yesterday, the 12th, the government was bringing in four
experts to attempt to come up with a translation of what ObL is saying on it.
So, the tape is just about impossible to understand. How, then, were
Dick Cheney and a few GOP Senators who've been allowed to view this thing able
to tell anyone who'd listen that it proves, "without a doubt", that
binLaden is Scumbag Numero Uno? On the one hand, the audio is almost
intelligible, so bad that it's taken the U.S. federal government, with all its
resources, days to clean up for broadcast. On the other hand, Dick Cheney
and the other Republican blow boys can apparently hear it well enough to
describe in detail what binLaden says on it. By the way, when did these busy men
have time to take a crash course in Farsi (seeing as how it hadn't been
translated into English yet and all)? You don't think that there's any
chance the tape isn't exactly what the Bush administration has alleged it to be
and the real purpose of the buildup to the big broadcast premiere has been to
plant in the public's mind the notion that this is THE proof of binLaden's
guilt, do you?
Unfortunately, most people in this country get the majority of their news
information from TV. Now that network news divisions are expected to be
"profit centers" for the corporations that own them, there's next to
no chance that any TV reporter who wants to keep his gig will ask anyone in the
administration questions like these. You push too hard and suddenly maybe
the FCC finds a way to keep your boss from owning that second network he's got
his eye on. That would be a bad career move so it's better not to ask
questions about things like THE AMAZING VIDEO TAPE FROM A COUNTRY WITH NO TV
THAT'S VIRTUALLY UNWATCHABLE YET TOTALLY CONCLUSIVE. Nope, the way to the
top and the show with YOUR NAME in the title is to shut up and pretend that
anything the Ari Fleischers of the world say makes perfect sense. I gotta
tell ya, though, I can't wait to see Smoking Gun, the (CIA?) directors's cut!
It sounds like the feel-good hit of the year!. In the meantime, anybody
got a shovel I can borrow? I want to go dig up Ed Murrow.