Okay, here's the thing: What Jon Stewart has on the other fake news producer, the Bush Administration, is that Jon Stewart is funny. The Bush Administration is just ... scary.
The Department of Homeland Security, trying to focus antiterrorism spending better nationwide, has identified a dozen possible strikes it views as most plausible or devastating, including detonation of a nuclear device in a major city, release of sarin nerve agent in office buildings and a truck bombing of a sports arena.
The document, known simply as the National Planning Scenarios, reads more like a doomsday plan, offering estimates of the probable deaths and economic damage caused by each type of attack.
They include blowing up a chlorine tank, killing 17,500 people and injuring more than 100,000; spreading pneumonic plague in the bathrooms of an airport, sports arena and train station, killing 2,500 and sickening 8,000 worldwide; and infecting cattle with foot-and-mouth disease at several sites, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. Specific locations are not named because the events could unfold in many major metropolitan or rural areas, the document says.
Translation: Be afraid! This is not real, but it could be, so be afraid! There's more:
The agency's objective is not to scare the public, officials said, and they have no credible intelligence that such attacks are planned.
So what the fuck could they be intending by releasing this? Oh wait....
The department did not intend to release the document publicly, but a draft of it was inadvertently posted on a Hawaii state government Web site.
This would be funny, if it weren't also ... pretty scary. What's also scary is that the Department of Homeland Security, vested with full authority to protect our homeland, managed to publish a secret internal document on the internet.
Of course, scaring everyone is what they're good at.
They're good at lying, too. Regarding their putting out fake news to deceive the public, the Bush Administration folks are not ones to be caught with their pants down -- they've delegated that authority to Jeff Gannon. Thus, this:
White House press secretary Scott McClellan defended the video news releases on Monday as "an informational tool to provide factual information to the American people." Nice sentiment, but why, exactly, wouldn't the administration want to let the people in on one of the most salient facts: who, really, is doing the talking?
Let's take a look at this factual information:
[Karen Ryan's] Medicare report, for example, was distributed in January 2004, not long before Mr. Bush hit the campaign trail and cited the drug benefit as one of his major accomplishments.
The script suggested that local anchors lead into the report with this line: "In December, President Bush signed into law the first-ever prescription drug benefit for people with Medicare." In the segment, Mr. Bush is shown signing the legislation as Ms. Ryan describes the new benefits and reports that "all people with Medicare will be able to get coverage that will lower their prescription drug spending."
The segment made no mention of the many critics who decry the law as an expensive gift to the pharmaceutical industry. The G.A.O. found that the segment was "not strictly factual," that it contained "notable omissions" and that it amounted to "a favorable report" about a controversial program.
There are some video clip samples in the multimedia sidebar here.
And that's not all. Perhaps you've already seen ads on your dish or cable feed for The Military Channel? Yes, Disovery has been busy finding ways to make money off the American public's love of our soldiers overseas -- as well as our strange love for weapons that would make Dirty Harry soil his shorts.
Not wanting to be left out of what appears to be a lucrative viewer market, the government is getting into the military showbiz act:
The Pentagon Channel, available only inside the Defense Department last year, is now being offered to every cable and satellite operator in the United States. Army public affairs specialists, equipped with portable satellite transmitters, are roaming war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, beaming news reports, raw video and interviews to TV stations in the United States. All a local news director has to do is log on to a military-financed Web site, www.dvidshub.net
, browse a menu of segments and request a free satellite feed. Then there is the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service, a unit of 40 reporters and producers set up to send local stations news segments highlighting the accomplishments of military members.
"We're the 'good news' people,? said Larry W. Gilliam, the unit's deputy director.
What next? Nielson ratings for wars?
Meanwhile, fresh off the lucrative passing of the Credit Card Bill, the Republican congress has moved on to other things, like ripping open the Arctic to drilling for what amounts to two days' worth of oil. If the past is any indication, odds are we'll be seeing a "news report" produced by the US Government crowing about how the endeavor that at once destroys a pristine wildlife refuge and provides fossil fuel to be burned into air pollution for all of us to breathe in fact makes the air cleaner and the Arctic Wildlife Refuge even more hospitable for wildlife.
[I wonder, who's going to get those lucrative oiling contracts? Do you think Halliburton has been buying up some winter parkas like that stylish number Vice President Cheney wore at the Holocaust Memorial?]
Of course, since hiring reporters to shill for government policiy and producing propaganda to air on the nightly news doesn't seem to be enough, the White House has brought Karen Hughes back to add fresh spin to what the government is really up to.
So it seems that perhaps the Republicans are right: government is the enemy. More specifically, a Republican government is the enemy of the people. Maybe as a follow-up to the scolding he gave to the Crossfire monkeys, Jon Stewart can simply ask the Republicans to "stop hurting America."