Sunday, September 09, 2007

F for Fake

Why is this man smiling?

And this one not?

The world of con men and flim-flam artists is one that has a certain fascination for me. Lying and deception are so prevalent in the world, it's hard to say when normal, everyday deception and lies pass into the con, when Michael O'Hanlon becomes Alex Debat.

Michael O'Hanlon works for the Brookings Institute, where he is a resident scholar. He's got a PhD from Princeton, written some books and is widely quoted as an authority about foreign policy. He has recently been misrepresented as a critic of the Iraq war while pushing the 'surge', and seems to be a willing propaganda tool of the Bush administration. He is part of a throng of experts, pundits and reporters who simply cannot be trusted, they say what they are paid to say, report what they are paid to report and opine what they are paid to opine. The more it's instinctive and ingrained the more successful they will be. I'm sure we will be afflicted with Mr. O'Hanlon for many years to come as he rises up the ladder of punditry.

Alex Debat is a senior fellow for the Nixon Center (America's Realist Voice). According to this online article, Mr. Debat published a faked interview with Barak Obama in a well regarded French journal. The linked article also calls into question many items in Mr. Debat's resume, including his PhD, and seems to push him squarely into flim-flam land, even though he has been an ABC new consultant, and recently was quoted in the press about possible action against Iran. It might be that it is time for Mr. Debat to move on to other accomplishments. If so, I'm sure he will be missed at the Nixon Center.

Debat conned his employers, O'Hanlon conned his readers. I prefer the former, just for fun.
(h/t Matthew Yglesias)


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