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Paul Greenberg: Cutting through the fog of news

BY PAUL GREENBERG Published: December 5, 2012

Most of us have heard of the fog of war, the layers of confusion that cover every engagement, turning battles into guessing games, obscuring just which units are where and doing what to whom till … all is confusion squared, cubed, overflowing in all directions, and then further confounded in the telling, whether by historians or anecdotalists.

There is also a fog of news that settles in daily, and is now rampant 24/7 in this age of instant miscommunication of every electronic kind. Even after this ever-present Fog of News lifts, there may be no telling who won, who lost and what it was all about.

But now and then the fog lifts, and a sudden insight is granted before it, too, is lost in enveloping clouds of commentary, opinionation, “analysis” and the usual exchange of opposite but equally strident prejudices that may pass as editorial comment. Through the murky clouds, like the sun peeking out for just a minute, a rare clarity emerges. It is for those sunlit moments that news junkies like me live before returning to our confusions. A moment like this one:

The other day our always articulate (read glib) president was trying to explain, or rather trying hard not to explain, why his administration had gotten its stories about Benghazi and the homicidal debacle there so hopelessly confused. He succeeded only in demonstrating that the fog of news is nothing compared to the fog of presidential promises to cut through it.

But for one startling moment, Barack Obama's own words let in a glaring light, however unintentionally. And all was clear. Thanks to what might be called a slip of the tongue but, according to Dr. Freud, may not be a slip at all but our minds unconsciously revealing what we mean.

Our president was expressing his oh-so-sincere desire to get to the bottom of all the contradictory versions of Benghazi (Cont'd) that he, his secretary of state, his ambassador to the United Nations, his director of national “intelligence” operations and maybe everybody else who's touched this tar baby of a subject has retailed. Now he was saying says he wants the truth revealed.

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