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Ed Driscoll

Salon Laphamizes CPAC

March 17th, 2013 - 1:15 pm

On Thursday, Breitbart News issued a press release that stated they were planning a panel they dubbed “The Uninvited” at CPAC:

Breitbart News Network announced today that it will host a special two-hour session of controversial speakers and topics. The session will also include active audience participation.

Among the topics covered: Crony Capitalism, Global Jihad, Illegal Immigration, the ongoing global persecution of Christians, and the gutting of the American Military.

Speakers include Former Attorney General of the United States Michael Mukasey and NY Times best-selling author and Breitbart Editor Peter Schweizer.

Panelists will include Robert Spencer, Dan Goure, Nina Shea, Rosemary Jenks, Frank Gaffney, and Pamela Geller.

Today at Breitbart.com’s Big Journalism site, Matthew Boyle writes, “Salon Writer Spins False Narrative on ‘The Uninvited’ Before Panel Begins:”

Rayfield (pictured) sat next to fellow Salon reporter Alex Seitz-Wald in the event. What they did not know was right next to both of them was Patrick Poole, an investigative reporter for the conservative outlet PJ Media.

Breitbart News caught up with Poole on the way out of the event, and he told this reporter that he personally witnessed Rayfield framing her story before the panel discussion she was writing about even began.

“Before the panel discussion, they had already had their posts prepared,” Poole said. “I was sitting directly beside them and she had her article on ‘Islamaphobia is alive and well at CPAC’ post all ready to go.”

Wow, you won’t get an invitation to leave beleaguered Salon and step up to a prestige lefty publication like Harpers if you write your conclusions about an event before it actually takes place.

Or actually, you probably will, as Nick Schulz, my editor at Tech Central Station noted back in 2004:

Harper‘s magazine editor Lewis Lapham is being appropriately mocked for a major pre-GOP-convention boner. In the September issue of his magazine, which has been on newsstands for over a week, Lapham writes about the “Republican propaganda mill” and the GOP convention:

“The speeches in Madison Square Garden affirmed the great truths now routinely preached from the pulpits of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal – government the problem, not the solution; the social contract a dead letter; the free market the answer to every maiden’s prayer — and while listening to the hollow rattle of the rhetorical brass and tin, I remembered the question that [Richard] Hofstadter didn’t stay to answer. How did a set of ideas both archaic and bizarre make its way into the center ring of the American political circus?”

That’s right, Lapham wrote about the GOP convention speeches before anyone even stepped to the podium. Lapham has apologized for what he’s calling a “rhetorical invention,” use of “poetic license,” and a “mistake.”

But the only “mistake” Lapham made is in revealing for all to see what has long been known by anyone who pays attention to the news: the major media routinely bring to their coverage of significant political events a predetermined storyline — you might want to call it a “Lapham”. Facts that undermine the storyline are ignored or explained away as aberrations to The Truth. For the editor of Harper‘s and other establishment press figures, it really makes no difference to them what will be said at Madison Square Garden because the Laphams are already set, loaded in the scribblers’ word processors and television anchor tele-prompters and ready to go.

Typing “Laphamizing,” the name of the portmanteau inspired by the former Harper’s editor into Google will bring up plenty of examples of this practice in action at the MSM. Their frequent reliance upon it only adds to what Michael Crichton dubbed “the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” the MSM seems to instill in its readers:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Or as Richard Fernandez quipped this past week at the Belmont Club, “The story goes that in Stalin’s day a man was walking through the corridors of Pravda. He met two editors and said, ‘I have just come from out town. Tell me, what is the news?’ They answered, ‘if you want to know what will happen tomorrow we can tell you with exactitude. But as to what happened yesterday, we are still trying to decide.’”

Related: “The Huffington Post Lies About Steven Crowder’s CPAC Monologue,” as spotted by Stacy McCain’s co-blogger Smitty.