In “1984,” George Orwell’s novel about a totalitarian society, Winston Smith, the book’s protagonist, works in the Ministry of Truth where he spends his days “rectifying” newspaper articles, books, and other print sources.
Orwell explained Smith’s job in an early chapter.
“For example, it appeared from The Times of the seventeenth of March that Big Brother… had predicted that the South Indian front would remain quiet but that a Eurasian offensive would shortly be launched in North Africa,” he wrote. “As it happened, the Eurasian Higher Command had launched its offensive in South India and left North Africa alone. It was therefore necessary to rewrite a paragraph of Big Brother’s speech, in such a way as to make him predict the thing that had actually happened.”
Of course, our government doesn’t do that sort of thing.
In 2004, that function of the Ministry of Truth is privatized and performed by the mainstream press.
During the January 22 debate among the Democratic presidential contenders, Peter Jennings, the ABC News anchor, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, did a little rectifying before a national audience.
Jennings noted that Michael Moore, the filmmaker, had shared the stage with former General Wesley Clark, at one of his campaign rallies. Moore, who is backing Clark, said he looked forward to debates between Clark and President George W. Bush or, as Moore put it, between “the general,” meaning Clark, and “the deserter,” meaning Bush.
The deserter label stems from a story in the Boston Globe on Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. Perhaps it is more accurate to say the story concerned the time Bush did not spend serving his country.
“In his final 18 months of military service in 1972 and 1973, Bush did not fly at all,” concluded the Globe in the 2000 story. “And for much of that time, Bush was all but unaccounted for: For a full year, there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen.”
Jennings was shocked that someone would call the president a deserter.
“Now, that’s a reckless charge not supported by the facts so I was curious to know why you didn’t contradict him and whether or not you think it would have been a better example of ethical behavior to have done so?” Jennings asked Clark.
The facts, of course, support Moore.
The Globe story also raised questions about how Bush was able to avoid serving in Vietnam by leaping over hundreds of other men who were on a waiting list to get into the guard. At the time, Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, was a congressman from Texas and it is plausible that Bush family connections were of some assistance.
The whole story is available on michaelmoore.com.
This is not the first time that Jennings has glossed over Bush’s service record.
In September of 2000, ABC produced biographies of Al Gore, who did serve in Vietnam, and Bush, both narrated by Jennings, according to the web site dailyhowler.com.
The piece on Bush made no reference to the controversy surrounding Bush’s extended absence from the Guard. It did not ask how Bush got into the Guard. It made no inquiries about why Bush was never investigated over his long absence.
Only a journalist would ask those questions and Jennings isn’t a journalist. In “1984” the earlier versions of revised items were dropped into trash bins called “memory holes.”
That’s what America saw on January 22––Peter Jennings, the human memory hole.