Thursday, August 03, 2006

More Qana conspiracy
I've already mentioned the conspiracy theory that the Qana massacre was faked by Hezbollah twice this week. It's showing no sign of dying down and is, in fact, slowly moving into the right-wing mainstream. The process is worth watching.

Let me recap the theories. Sometime around twelve-thirty or one o'clock Sunday morning, an aircraft from the Israeli Defence forces dropped a bomb near a building in Qana, Lebanon. At about eight, word emerged that the building had collapsed killing at least fifty-seven people inside. Film of rescue workers removing bodies from the rubble was broadcast around the world. Some people thought it suspicious that there was a time gap between the bomb falling and the world hearing about it. In some sources, this was interpreted to mean the building didn't fall until eight o'clock. That misinterpretation led some to speculate that something other than the Israeli bomb caused the collapse--probably Hezbollah munitions stored there.

Others used the confused timeline to construct a more sinister story. By Monday, Ruben Korvet of the site Israeli Insider was busy claiming that Hezbollah trucked dead bodies in from Tyre planted them in the building and then demolished the building so they could have a photo-op massacre and teary rescue for the gullible western press. Other right-wing bloggers picked up the story and added their own details. With no evidence at all Richard North of EU Referendum decided the rescue operation was directed by Hezbollah officials.

Jefferson Morley at the Washington Post website has a useful summary of the theory moving through the internet fringe, but, as Atrios points out, curiously fails to follow the movement of this story into media with a larger, non-fringe audiences. Michelle Malkin ran a vlog supporting the conspiracy theory on Tuesday, Jonah Goldberg used it as the topic of his editorial on NRO on Wednesday, and Rush Limbaugh presented the theory to his vast radio audience that same day. The only piece of the machine we have still to hear from is Fox news, but I have faith we'll hear from them before the week is over.

By now millions of right-wing nuts and less nutty conservatives have been introduced to the idea that there is something fishy about Qana. Goldberg presented his version tied into the usual anti-media and anti-intellectual themes that serve to inoculate his audience against any contrary views. The fake massacre narrative will now pass into conservative conventional wisdom and spread into the broad mass of people who are suspicious of traditional news outlets. We are watching an ugly and dangerous urban legend in the making.

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