Part 2—Is someone doctoring photos: For decades, we liberals got to roll our eyes at those gullible ditto-heads.
They would phone Rush Limbaugh to state their full allegiance. When they did, they would recite the mélange of bogus, false and doctored facts El Rushbo had been spewing.
If we lower the tax rate, we get higher revenue! Global warming is all about sunspots! No claim was too bogus to be recited. If Rush said it, it was true!
It was good for liberal self-esteem to see these pitiful public displays. Surely, we liberals are the smart, “nuanced” people, we told ourselves down through the years.
Today, comment threads in liberaldom offer similar displays. Liberals burning with true belief recite the scripts they’ve been served by their own cable masters. One example:
Last Wednesday, Kevin Drum offered this perfectly sensible post about the George Zimmerman case. Drum’s view: Given the nature of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, it’s unlikely that Zimmerman will be convicted of a crime. Drum based his judgment on a report about the law in the Tampa Bay Times.
If Zimmerman is charged, will he be convicted? Should he be convicted under terms of that much-maligned law? In each case, we have no idea. But rather quickly, Drum’s comment thread spilled with tortured tribal reasoning—and with bogus facts. This comment came quite quickly:
COMMENTER (4/4/12): Where "near your size" is defined, from Trayon Martin's perspective, to be “100 lbs. heavier and chasing me in an SUV.”Was Zimmerman 100 pounds heavier than Martin? The commenter was advancing a “fact” which had proved to be bogus. But so what? Soon, another commenter recited the same bogus claim. This commenter was armed with the modern-day liberal’s weapon of choice—a pleasing dollop of snark:
COMMENTER: Zimmerman weighs 250 lbs. Trayvon weighs 140.Within the context of the thread, this commenter seemed to think that conservative “losers” were embellishing Martin’s height to gain a tribal advantage. In fact, it was Charles Blow, seeming to cite Martin’s parents, who first said Martin was 6-foot-3. And no:
The video shows NOT A MARK on Zimmermman. I've actually seen the REAL one.
Trayvon keeps getting bigger and uglier every time you losers post. First he was 6'; now he's 6'3"; what next? 9 feet? Keep your story straight, at least.
Zimmerman doesn’t weigh 250 pounds, a fact which was quite clear by last week. (For more information, see below.) But that was the “fact” we had been fed by our “liberal” post-journalistic machines. And alas:
As Limbaugh’s ditto-heads have done for decades, we liberals have been marching forth to repeat our own tribe’s bogus claims. We laughed at them when they played it this way.
Now, the ditto-heads are increasingly us.
In this case, Drum’s conservative commenters seemed better informed on the question of height and weight. His liberal commenters had cast themselves in the ditto-head role, faithfully repeating the bogus claim they had heard from people they trusted. Just a guess:
It may not have entered these commenters’ heads that they were possibly being played by the high-profile people they trusted. That Sharpton, O’Donnell and Schultz had been feeding them reams of bullroar—had perhaps been feeding them lies.
Alas! A stream of bogus factual claims has been advanced on MSNBC over the past three or four weeks. In some cases, the bogus claims were false; in other cases, the claims were unknown, unproven. But just as in the Limbaugh/Fox years, so too in this brave new corporate world: A steady stream of true believers have been prepared to repeat what they hear.
They’ve heard a lot of bogus claims—as in the Fox/Limbaugh years.
Last night, matters got worse. On Politics Nation, Al Sharpton was interviewing Kendall Coffey and Ken Padowitz, a pair of Florida “legal experts” who can be relied upon to echo Sharpton’s views and claims. As in the Fox/Limbaugh years, this leads to the state we liberals have mocked as “epistemic closure.”
As usual, Sharpton, Coffey and Padowitz were echoing each others’ views. To watch the full segment, click here.
For us, a rather shocking moment occurs around 11:45 on this tape.
At that point, without comment from Sharpton, new videotape of Zimmerman appears. It offers a very large close-up of the back of his head as he arrives at the Sanford police station on the night of the killing.
This close-up isn’t grainy. And wow! In this close-up image, the back of Zimmerman’s head seems to be completely pristine. There isn’t the slightest sign of any blemish or injury.
There isn’t a stub of a hair out of place. There is no sign of any injury. To judge from this new close-up view, Zimmerman didn’t suffer the slightest wound or abrasion on the night of the killing—just exactly as we libs have been told. (See the second comment to Drum, above.)
Does that close-up represent an accurate picture of Zimmerman’s head on the night of the killing? We have no idea. But this close-up photo is impossible to reconcile with two earlier close-up shots, including one close-up which was aired by MSNBC on March 29. That close-up seemed to show an obvious goose-egg on the back of Zimmerman’s head, crowned with an obvious abrasion.
Later, ABC produced another close-up of Zimmerman’s head. This close-up was grainer, and more distant, than the image aired by MSNBC. But it seemed to show two abrasions on the back of Zimmerman’s head.
Which of these three close-up views is not like the others? In fact, none of these images seems like the either one of others! But last night’s close-up completely contrasts with the close-up this same cable channel showed on March 29.
On March 29, Zimmerman had an obvious wound on the back of his head. Last evening, his head was pristine. (For a link to that earlier close-up, with viewing instruictions, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/4/12.)
Question: What exactly does it mean when news orgs tell us that we’re looking at “enhanced” photos? We don’t know, but as non-experts, we would say this: One of the close-ups shown by MSNBC simply has to be doctored.
“Doctored.” Not enhanced.
We could be wrong in that assessment. But the contrast between the two close-ups is remarkable. If you thought that “journalism” was still being practiced on our cable “news” channels, you might say the contrast was shocking.
In tribal times like these, people tend to extend true belief to their side’s tribal leaders. In the case of Limbaugh, the ditto-heads have done this for decades. As we form our own “news orgs,” we liberals are moving in this same direction.
It’s natural, if unwise, to place full faith in tribal leaders. But what the heck happened on Politics Nation last night?
Was the back of Zimmerman’s head injured that night? We have no first-hand knowledge. Last night’s close-up may be a faithful representation of the state of his head when he arrived at the police station that night. But if that is so, what explains the earlier close-up aired on this same cable channel?
And what explains Sharpton’s endless silence in the face of such contradictions? Our tribe’s true believers recite what he says.
Why won’t Sharpton explain?
Again, the tape of the tape: Regarding height and weight, the New York Times reported on April 2 that Zimmerman was 5-9, 170; Martin was 6-1, 150.
One day later, the Orlando Sentinel offered this fact-check:
STUTZMAN (4/3/12): Trayvon was trying to defend himself against a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds.Obviously, we don't know the precise figures. In best New York Times fashion, the newspaper simply gave us our data, didn't say how it knew.
Outweighed, yes. By 100 pounds, no. George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who says he killed Trayvon in self-defense, outweighed him by 30 or 40 pounds, according to family members. A Sanford police incident report says Trayvon was 6 feet tall and weighed 160 pounds. A spokesman for the family's lawyers gave a slightly different set of numbers: 6 feet 1 and 150 pounds. Zimmerman is 5 feet 9 inches tall, according to the police report, but it is silent about his weight. A family member says he currently weighs about 190 pounds. Zimmerman used to be far heavier. A 2005 police report put his weight at 250 pounds, but security-camera video released last week by Sanford police show him to be much trimmer.