Many misleading statements come out of the White House, the Congress, the judiciary, and the media–the four branches of government–every day. When the president says “Assad must go,” and then does nothing to accomplish that goal, it is obvious that the statement was deceptive, and that deception is every bit as serious as those surrounding the gunrunning scandal. Indeed, by encouraging opponents of the Syrian regime to believe that the United States is really going to help them, the president in all likelihood has contributed to the casualty toll. To that deception we now have yet another, a story designed to have us believe that the CIA is actually doing something serious to support the Syrian opposition. But if you read the story, you find that it only says the CIA is “helping allies decide” whether to help fight Assad, and if so, which elements in the opposition. It’s a deception designed to support the earlier deception, and the same New York Times that gave us the first one thoughtfully gave us the second as well.
So, once again, misleading information was fed to the press, and the press did not track down the facts. Nor did Congress, for that matter, nor any pundit that I can find. Indeed, so far as I can tell, the “leaks” have been taken as gospel by most everyone, even though a bit of research (phone calls, for the most part) and a dash of common sense show the opposite.
It’s tempting to blame the confusion on politics, and certainly there is a political component. But don’t underestimate the enormous power of sloth in these matters. Tracking down the truth is hard work, and writing it requires a bit of courage as well, especially when the herd has bought into a deception.
As Joshua Reynolds so marvelously put it, “there is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.”