Wag the Dog

“Old Shoe,” Jessica Lynch, and Pat Tillman.

Everyone remembers Wag the Dog as being about the manufacture of a foreign crisis to deflect attention from a White House scandal. But it’s also about the collaboration between the government and the mass media in inventing heroes. The Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories are especially egregious examples.

Another test of wingnut message discipline: How many of the outlets that helped hype those stories will now acknowledge their bogosity?

Update This ESPN story just puts the icing on the cake. Though Tillman didn’t engage in any of the imaginary heroics embodied in his Silver Star citation, it appears that his death actually did result from a deliberately courageous action: coming out from behind cover to throw a smoke grenade to protect a comrade. Whether that sort of action warrants a Silver Star I can’t say, but I don’t doubt that whatever award for gallantry Tillman actually earned would be of more comfort to his family than a faked-up Silver Star.

Bonus disgusting element Various military folks speaking to ESPN dissed the Tillman family for their lack of religiosity.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com