The News invents a new twist to revive a dead conspiracy

Nov 10th, 2011 | By | Category: The News

The News (Jang Group)We noted yesterday that Adm (r) Mike Mullen denied the claims of Mansoor Ijaz also known as Pakistan’s James Bond. Most media groups reported this development in a straightforward way. Pakistan Today reported that ‘Mullen denies secret back channel in US-Pakistan relationship’, Dawn reported that ‘Mullen denies receiving Ijaz’s letter’, and Express Tribune reported that ‘Mullen denies secret back channel in US-Pakistan ties’. But The News (Jang Group), apparently unwilling to give up such a juicy conspiracy, invented a new twist to keep the story alive. According to the unsigned article in Thursday’s paper, ‘Mullen’s ex-spokesman issues confused denial of memo’.

According to the unnamed reporter, rather than putting the issue to rest, Adm Mullen’s statement actually added more mystery as it “left the door of receiving the memo open through someone else”. This is a classic example of the logical fallacy ‘moving the goalposts‘ “in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded”.

What happens, for example, if Adm Mullen issues another statement that says, “Not only did I not receive any memo from Mansoor Ijaz, I did not receive it from anyone else either”. Will The News the claim that this is “confusing” and adds more “mystery” also? After all, he would have said he did not receive a “memo”, but what about an email or a telegram! Why did he not clarify that no carrier pigeons flew to his window with a note scrawled on a scrap of paper tied to its leg? Where does it end? If you’re unwilling to accept facts, you will continue to believe anything, no matter how untrue it is.

Mansoor Ijaz’s claims did not stand the test of basic common sense according to assistant editor at The News Mehreen Zahra-Malik,

Vintage AZ? Maybe, but definitely typical Islamabad, city of the faithful, where faith means believing in things when common sense tells you not to. Really, how would an attempt to sack the army top brass discourage a coup? Anyone who knows how difficult it is to keep a secret among three people knows how absurd is the idea that Zardari imagined he’d get away with this undetected. Plus, didn’t he himself give the generals the extensions they wanted? And why does our man in DC, the army-hating ‘US ambassador to Pakistan,’ need to be bypassed to pass on a message that is decidedly pro-US and unmistakably anti-army?

But try suggesting any of this to someone in the grips of AZ-phobia and this memo-reverie, and he’ll gently shake his heads and begin to walk you through the cherry-picked lumps of ‘facts’. The screaming mass of reason pointing in the opposite direction? – who cares. Try hard enough and you can possibly find evidence Nawaz Sharif masterminded 9/11. It would certainly make for a more interesting story, and that’s what Islamabad’s hackeratti is interested in: an interesting story.

And that appears to be what happened again – ignoring reality in the hopes of resurrecting an interesting story from the dead. Adm Mullen’s statement was not confusing to anyone who was more interested in the facts than inventing interesting stories. Mansoor Ijaz already stands discredited by his fanciful tale, The News would be wise not to follow suit.

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