If Al Franken were not a longtime public figure -- and thus severely handicapped by American jurisprudence -- he could file a powerful complaint for libel or slander against several of the most prominent wingnuts in the United States. From Rush Limbaugh to Bill O'Reilly to Richard Mellon Scaife, a chorus of familiar voices is loudly defaming the Democrat whose razor-thin win in the Minnesota Senate race will now be tested in that state's courts. Ever since Election Day, on radio and television, on the Internet and in print, they've screamed that Franken is stealing, rigging, pilfering, scamming, thieving and cheating his way to victory.
These media figures, some of whom occasionally pretend to be journalists, have spewed such accusations repeatedly, without offering any proof whatsoever -- in plain contradiction of the available facts. Not only is there no evidence that Franken or his campaign "cheated" in any way during the election or the recount, but there is ample reason to believe that the entire process was fair, balanced and free from partisan taint.
In other words, in the view of Conason, some of Franken's adversaries are accusing Franken of stealing the Minnesota Senate election without proof. Now, first, while I haven't followed the election all that closely, there is plenty about it to be suspicious. First, Norm Coleman appeared to have a rather solid lead going into the recount and the turn around has been remarkable. Several precincts appear to have more votes than voters. Furthermore, big money from the likes of George Soros has come into Franken to help with the recount. Yet, in the mind of Conason, unless there is a smoking gun, the media had better not even cover the recount.
Yet, what is really remarkable is the idea that a guy like Conason would ever condemn anyone of reporting conjecture. Here is what Conason said about Bush and Scott McClellan.
Yet Libby took the fall, leaving Fitzgerald bereft of sufficient evidence to prosecute the crime's suspected mastermind. After Libby was convicted and the president commuted his prison sentence, Bush declared that the case had "run its course" and that he no longer felt bound to find out what his subordinates had done and punish them, as he had initially promised.
The Libby commutation silenced the only potential stool pigeon who could implicate his bosses. Rove resigned without penalty, and Cheney sits in his office, mulling an
attack on Iran. The Washington press corps, which had brought so little investigative energy to bear on the Plame case (except to speculate idly and stupidly about whether she was actually a covert officer), accepted Bush's facile closure. So did most members of the new Democratic Congress. But the damning questions remain unanswered.
Those questions date back to McClellan's first remarks on the subject, when he famously said that the president would dismiss any official determined to be responsible for leaking Plame's identity. "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration. There's been nothing, absolutely nothing, brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement." Sworn testimony eventually proved that the leakers included Libby, Rove, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and McClellan's predecessor, former press secretary Ari Fleischer. The same raft of evidence also indicated that Cheney orchestrated Libby's leak to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Here Conason engages in nothing more than conjecture about Bush, Scooter Libby , Iran, and other questionable GWOT techiques. Conason offers no proof that Bush did anything wrong. In fact, Conason focuses specifically on "unanswered questions". These are the very "unanswered questions" that he condemns of anyone asking about Al Franken.
Here is the constant mantra of Joe Conason regarding Bush's policy toward Iran.
Whatever George W. Bush may tell us about his intentions toward Iran, every action and order indicates that he will seek to expand the war eastward from Iraq. Despite the warnings voiced by military and diplomatic advisers, the president still seems to be listening to the same discredited neoconservatives whose fantasies and falsehoods drove us into the Iraqi quagmire.
If their plotting succeeds in provoking military conflict with Iran, the resulting carnage could indeed make Iraq look like a “cakewalk,” to quote one of the more stupid predictions that preceded the current war. Imagine firefights erupting along the Persian Gulf and violent uprisings among the Shiite masses in the Baghdad slums and southern Iraq—and then imagine the entire region convulsed by ethnic and religious conflict.
The potential consequences could be catastrophic, from the closing of the gulf straits and a new oil crisis to ruptured political alliances and terrible American casualties.
Without an ounce of proof, he accused the President of secretly seeking to attack Iran. This was a charge that has since been proven wrong. Yet, Conason had nothing more than conjecture at the time that Bush would attack Iran. Yet, that didn't stop Conason from accusing the President of doing so regardless.
In fact, Conason has accused Bush of lying about WMD's, the run up to the Iraq war, and Social Security. None of these lies had anything near a smoking gun. Conason routinely accused Bush of lying with nothing more than conjecture. He had nothing more than the very conjecture he now condemns in the case of Al Franken. The hypocrisy is thick and obvious.