15 March 2009

Devon Largio: Mythbuster

Devon Largio, who documented 27 rationales provided for war with Iraq between September 2001 and October 2002 (exsum-pdf, thesis-pdf), also documented that Americans were not "duped" into believing Saddam Hussein was involved in, or responsible for, the 9/11 attack by studying the Bush administration's rhetoric, media reporting and polling between July 2001 and May 2004.

When Osama Became Saddam: Origins and Consequences of the Change in America’s Public Enemy #1

While it appeared from publicly-reported surveys that Americans initially blamed Osama and only later blamed Saddam, our analysis shows that Americans were willing to blame Saddam immediately after 9/11 when survey respondents were presented with that possibility. Indeed, rather than seeing a sudden spike in Saddam’s culpability around the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, our analysis shows a steady decline in the percentage of Americans willing to blame Saddam, a percentage that has been dropping ever since the first days following 9/11.
News coverage and presidential rhetoric may have replaced Osama with Saddam over time, but Saddam was on the short list of most likely suspects from the beginning for most Americans. Rather than showing a gullible public blindly accepting the rationales offered by an administration bent on war, our analysis reveals a self-correcting public that has grown ever more doubtful of Hussein’s culpability since the 9/11 attacks.
Devon Largio published both papers in 2004 and has since graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D from Vanderbilt University Law School. She is currently a litigation associate in Kirkland's Chicago office.

This solid research has been ignored by such "luminaries" as Bill Moyers, Lance Bennett, Regina Lawrence, and Steven Livingston.

My Questions for Bennett, Lawrence, and Livingston remain unanswered.

Before Karl Rove, There Was Bill Moyers


acline said...

This is the part I find most fascinating:

"Instead, the Bush administration inherited and played into a favorable climate of public opinion, which may have greatly facilitated its task of building public support for war against Iraq. The mistaken belief that
Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks was already widespread among Americans long before President Bush began publicly linking Saddam Hussein with the War on Terrorism."

The central contention of this essay not only feels right, these guys have it nailed. I think the bit I've quoted from the conclusion is also important. Bush used what already existed in the culture, i.e. good kairos.

W2JIG said...


I would not have thought of kairos had you not pointed it out. Thanks for that!

It also makes me think of another saying much in the news lately, "You never want a serious crisis go to waste."

geg555 said...

What existed in the culture post-9/11 was created by the media. That's how it gets there. The report says that the media was prompting the government with these questions.

The media in turn was forwarding messages fed to it by PR firms and people with deep Mil-Ind-complex ties.

These PR firms were populated by Neo-cons which were members or close associates of the Bush machine, such as AEI and PNAC and others. Some had been pushing this message since at least 1994.

The Iraqi National Congress had been pushing it since around 1991 or earlier, helped along by the Rendon Group in London which was put on CIA retainer by George HW Bush to create the climate to overthrow Saddam.

This explains even further why the media "failed" to "expose" Bushco lies, they were actually implanting the lies in the public mind by asking leading questions, i.e. their role in democratic society in manufacturing consent.