FOX's John Gibson feeds rumor mill - nobody bites
Reported by Chrish - May 28, 2006
On Wednesday 5/24/06 John Gibson did a segment on The Big Story about a purported former Army Ranger who was making confessions of dreadful behavior in Iraq on a website. According to Gibson, "this (unnamed) website" was #2 in "clicks" last week, which alone made me think the story was questionable. Turns out facts are in short supply all around.
Gibson claims that this "anti-war" video posted on the Internet has stirred up a lot of outrage, and shows a video clip of the "Fake Army Ranger" Jesse Macbeth giving an alleged first-hand account of things he did in Iraq. According to Gibson the video shows Macbeth saying he and others were ordered by US military officials to murder innocent civilians. He says the Army claims it's a fraud.
As a guest he brings on David Danelo,the author of (very recently released) "Blood Stripes: The Grunt's View of the War in Iraq" a real first-hand account of the military in Iraq. (Comment: Note it is titled THE grunt's view, not A grunt's view. This is not the first time one person's account has been refuted with another person's account, as if there is only one experience to be agreed on in all of Iraq.)
After introducing him, Gibson says "Now the reason this is so important, is this guy's blog and that tape saying American soldiers are babykillers is the #2, was the #2 most clicked on blog on all of the Internet...so alot of people saw it. (Comment: then why can't I find it?) What is the tip-off this guy was a phony?"
Danelo said there were so many inaccuracies in his story that it would be easy for the Army to pick it apart, and used the example that Macbeth claimed 18 months in Army Ranger school, which is not the correct length "last time (he) checked, and I'm a Marine." Huh?
Gibson goes on to say that Macbeth's story, which, he repeats, is now turning out to be a fake, seems as though it could be very damaging to the reputation of the American military, to the war effort, to "the whole works." Do you (Danelo) feel that damage?
Danelo says no, not really. The reason it was so clicked on was because people wanted to see what "this knucklehead" had to say, but there are enough bloggers telling the truth, and writing books, (and btw he's glad to have been able to write his book), but there's enough truth out there that people will forget this guy ever existed.
Gibson, saying that Danelo writes about what's really going on in Iraq (again with the single view-point, single experience) and asks the $64 million question: if an American soldier got the orders he (JM) said he got, 'kill those people; kill those women; kill those kids', would they do it?
Danelo laughs and says "There's no way." He can't imagine a Marine Corporal taking such an order from a Second Lietenant telling him to go massacre that village or something like that..."the corporal woud just...that would never happen."
Asked by Gibson if soldiers, Marines, take this sort of thing personally, Danelo again replies "Not really." They're too busy doing their jobs; they'll look at it and laugh and just feel sorry for this guy who had nothing better to do than make up this lie.
Gibson ended the interview and I got on Google. I hadn't heard or read or seen any such thing so was curious about the video and where it was being hosted - second most clicked on site on the Internet would be huge and would crash most blogs.
I saw a reference to YouTube so looked for it there. It did not crack the top 100 viewed videos for the month and is not in the current week's top 100 either. In fact if you search YouTube for Jesse Macbeth you get only one video - of the aptly-named "Hot Air" and Michelle Malkin "unmasking anti-war fraud", immediately comparing the current video to John Kerry's 1971 testimony. She perkily challenges the video to answer her demands for details - how cute! - and tells her viewers that left-wing reports have been removed and thanks to the blogosphere, the truth is only a click away.
Progressive and anti-war sites have retracted the story/video and removed links to the apparent fake. (But whose fake?) Any media kerfuffle happening over this incident is limited to right-wing blogs and websites.
Comment: This segment serves a two-fold purpose. It plants in viewers heads the seed of doubt about stories of atrocities and murder of civilians, just as the Haditha story seems poised to break and expose exactly the kind of behavior dismissed here. For many of FOX's true believers, (some of whom post here regularly) the Haditha story will be a conspiracy of the liberal media to hurt Bush because they hate him, and this discredited story will bolster their position of denial.
Also, this item adds to viewers and followers distrust of "other" media sources. This deliberate misinformation game is really a disservice, as more than one homogenized corporate voice is needed for critical thinking and free thought. But that's counter-productive, isn't it.