December 07, 2003


It really is all about lunch. Troll madness has infected The Guardian’s Mark Lawson, who thinks Turkeygate is the biggest story ever:

In a revelation certain to be taught at schools of democracy and journalism for years to come, it has been revealed that the apparently appetising turkey that President Bush carried towards beaming troops last week in Baghdad had been genetically modified to a degree that would lead even the most profit-hungry farmers to protest. The bird was the kind of model used by butchers and Hollywood set-dressers.

The fakery went further. The hoax roast in the president's hands cannot even be claimed as a symbolic stand-in for the steaming birds that were actually served. Reports say that the US troops were given airline-style meals of pre-packaged meat.

So it’s a double-fake turkey scam! Subpoena that pre-packaged meat! Or maybe fire the editors who ran this in the first place. The Washington Post’s ombudsman reveals that while “one or two” readers supported the original Turkeygate story ...

... far more readers said this was a form of "chicken" rather than turkey, as in: "This has got to be one of the most insipid, petty, chicken-[expletive] articles that I have ever seen. What is going on with your newspaper?" Another said it was "sad," and a Navy officer wrote to say that it was "a cheap shot," and that there are always "staged" turkeys for such mass feedings to add a "homey" touch when you have to feed hundreds from steam tables.

Let’s return to Lawson, lost in a world of confusion:

If the president were to use the plastic turkey of Baghdad in commercials now, his opponents would make a real meal of it.

To “make a meal” of something doesn’t mean to capitalise on it, as Lawson implies. It means to blunder hopelessly, which Lawson does by describing the turkey as a “hoax”, a “model”, and “plastic”. It wasn’t. Check the original article:

A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line ...

Here’s a picture of Mark Lawson trying to look intelligent. Fake! Bogus! Hoax!

(Via Peter Briffa.)

UPDATE. The Western media totally missed the real turkey scandal.

UPDATE II. John Kerry, currently bleeding out in the polls, has lunged for Turkeygate in the manner of a razor-slashed hemophiliac grasping for a Bandaid:

George Bush goes to Baghdad to carry around a fake Thanksgiving turkey while he cuts support for our troops and 40,000 veterans are left on a hospital waiting list.

Where Kerry’s campaign also resides.

UPDATE III. In comments, reader Bob Bunnett notes Lawson’s claim: “The mooted new moonshots are calculated to wipe from the collective memory the images of the Challenger disaster.” Lawson needs some work on his individual memory. The Challenger disaster happened in 1986. He presumably meant this year’s Columbia crash. Was it caused by plastic turkeys? Read Lawson’s next thrilling column to find out.

UPDATE IV. Bush’s elaborate turkey deception makes the BBC’s list of Ten Things We Didn’t Know This Time Last Week. Only ten?

Posted by Tim Blair at December 7, 2003 01:13 AM

See, Tim, a contractor dressed the turkey, evidence of evil privatization by the neocon conspiracy!

Posted by: Andrew at December 7, 2003 at 01:51 AM

A Haliburton contractor, I bet!

Posted by: tim at December 7, 2003 at 01:54 AM

Just when the Bush haters thought they had him dead in the water, a poll comes up with a 61% rating for him, you can hardly blame them for panicking and trying anything, even something as laughable as this, to try and push those ratings down again.

Posted by: Michael at December 7, 2003 at 02:20 AM

Bush goes to Baghdad, cheers the troops up, & reassures Iraqis.

1,000 Iraqis march in Baghdad against terrorists attacks & in support of the Coalition.

American & world press: Gobble gobble! Gobble! Gobble gobble gobble! GOBBLE!

Posted by: ForNow at December 7, 2003 at 02:29 AM

Iraqis march against 'terror',,2-10-1460_1455595,00.html

This 'reporting' (scorn-quotes around 'terror') is typical of 'France' (Vichy).

Baghdad - About 1 000 Iraqis, mostly Shi'ites, rallied in central Baghdad to condemn "terrorism" against Iraqis and United States "liberation" forces on Friday as four Iraqis and a US soldier died in a bomb attack elsewhere in the capital.

Dozens of children aged between five and 10 marched at the front of the protest, with flowers in their hands, under white banners proclaiming in red letters: "Children - innocent victims of terrorism" and: "Terrorism blocks any future for children".

The American & world press distracts us & bleats:
But what if a turkey an unserved turkey—
But the Air Force One story keeps changing course—

The press, in the present case as led by the Washington Post’s executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., is so busy trying to “unmask” Bush, that it is indeed missing some of the substantive & real story.

The entertainment industry smiles & says image is all. The news subdivision of said industry is so focused on trying to interpret Bush in its industry’s terms, that its capacity for collateral observation has atrophied, & it is trapped in the smoke-&-mirrors scenarios that it is trying to attribute to Bush. It is so committed to this line of interpretation, & to misdirecting from & minimizing the errors into which said line leads it, that its product is too often indistinguishable from propaganda.

This is to be expected. They never properly owned up to the massive pattern of error, & the meanings of the pattern made, in their reporting of the invasion.

Posted by: ForNow at December 7, 2003 at 03:26 AM

Did I say “too often indistinguishable from propaganda”? There are portions of Lawson’s article that you could show to people & they would swear it was from The Onion. My first immediate reaction to Tim’s quotes was that he was drawing them from The Onion or some such satire site & that the whole entry was going to turn out to be some sort of joke.

It’s just too weird. Is there anything in living memory to compare with all this current dementia from the press?

Posted by: ForNow at December 7, 2003 at 03:49 AM

Uh, didn't Kerry vote against additional appropriations for the troops? So who did the cutting?

Posted by: Donald Sensing at December 7, 2003 at 03:54 AM

No, you're missing the point. This is another failure of a NATO alliance!

This turkey was plainly not going to be eaten, digested, excreted...once again, Turkey denied passage!

Posted by: Carl H. at December 7, 2003 at 03:56 AM

Actually, "make a meal of" can mean to capitalize on it. Apparently it means something different in Britain and the US than in Australia. (My boyfriend often tells me that I'll make mincemeat out of something, by which he means I will handle it easily. I always think he means I'll shred it into little bits. Communication is hard.)

So, did they empty out those airline meals and dump them in the steam table? Because I saw Bush dishing up stuff out of a steam table.

And once again, the WaPo said the turkey was "roasted". Did someone roast a plastic prop?

Posted by: Angie Schultz at December 7, 2003 at 04:00 AM

Tim's right - the story is entirely about nothing. They wanted to find a criticism, so in the absense of anything tangible he went after the holiday chow-truck decorations. How lame. Does it disturb him most greatly that soldiers don't live like he does? Does it bother him that North Americans have their own holidays?

I just dont get it. It seems a simple as the guy just needed a windmill to tilt at.

Posted by: joe at December 7, 2003 at 04:15 AM


The definition in England is only remotely positive in football, when a fouled player "makes a meal of it" to draw a penalty -- a form of capitalising, but a dishonest form. In general use it's the same as in Australia, India, South Africa, etc.

Posted by: tim at December 7, 2003 at 04:32 AM

332 days til I get to read the Euro-press after the election! 332 days til I get to read the Euro-press after the election! 332 days til I get to read the Euro-press after the election!

332 days! Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!

Posted by: Andrew X at December 7, 2003 at 05:04 AM

Is it just me, or do way too many of these Lawson-type idiots look like smug weenies?

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at December 7, 2003 at 05:17 AM

It's not just you, Jorg. Based on years of personal observation, I can attest that there are only about 12 faces in Britain, and unfortunately that's one of them.

Posted by: Bruce at December 7, 2003 at 06:08 AM

You're close, Tim, closer than you know. Think about this: at the very moment the carving took place, most of the federal government had been sent home. Hillary was in Afghanistan. And they planned it so Michael Moore would be sleeping off tryptophan. Does those sound like coincidences to you? They left nothing to chance. I don't know if I'll contact you again. Things are getting dangerous for me. I've noticed a bunch of men hanging around, dressed like pilgrims...

Posted by: Deep Giblet at December 7, 2003 at 06:15 AM

Incorporating all valid criticism of your heroes ironically into your lamo discourse may afford you some moments of self-delusion, but in the quiet time, when the spells come again, your small inner voice must be gagging on humble pie by now.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at December 7, 2003 at 06:31 AM

I think you're all missing the real story here. I've got it on my blog:

Posted by: Jeremy Brown at December 7, 2003 at 06:31 AM

It'd be nice if Miranda could keep her "small inner voice" to herself. Alas! Just another self-deluded member of the Margo Kingston Bag Lady Brigade mumbling incoherently as she pushes her rusted-out shopping cart full of discarded lefty truisms past the rest of us. Off the meds again, darling? Such a shame ...

Posted by: Brother Nikko at December 7, 2003 at 07:35 AM

make a meal of
Brit. informal
carry out (a task) with unnecessary effort.
Compact Oxford English Dictionary

Posted by: Peggy Sue at December 7, 2003 at 08:29 AM

make a meal of
carry out (a task) with unnecessarily great effort.
Collins English Dictionary - Australian Edition.

Posted by: Peggy Sue at December 7, 2003 at 08:33 AM

Hmm. Incoherence, bargain-basement profundity, mixed metaphors...yet more evidence that Margo and Miranda are one and the same person. Come out of the closet, dearie!

Oh, I forgot, you already have.

Posted by: reg at December 7, 2003 at 08:35 AM

The more I read of this "scandal" the more I think "this is a silly parody" and chuckle. Then I realize they're serious.

Posted by: Patrick Chester at December 7, 2003 at 08:54 AM

The pansy assed reporters have obviously never been in the military or they would know that it's rather customary on special occasions for the dining facility personal to prepare a presentation entree for display, whether or not a VIP like the President, Hillary "drumsticks" Clinton or a General Officer is present. They do it for the troops.

Posted by: Wallace at December 7, 2003 at 09:03 AM

“Iraqis march in salute to U.S.”
From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD — Up to 1,000 Iraqis, including children orphaned by the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, marched through Baghdad yesterday to denounce guerrilla attacks and show support for U.S.-led occupation forces. [emphasis added]

Of course, some may discount the impression made by this, since the war was entirely the imperialist cowboy USA’s fault or, at least, since rounding up a swarm of orphans for a march is hardly a great feat, indeed mere child’s play, in Baghdad.

/Sarcasm off.

Posted by: ForNow at December 7, 2003 at 09:12 AM

Just to set the record straight:

"..a razor-slashed hemophiliac grasping for a Bandaid".

Haemophiliacs do not bleed MORE than normal persons; they bleed LONGER. In 99% of cases, external bleeding (e.g. cuts) are the least of a haemo's problems and are treated much the same as anyone else.

Internal bleeding - especially into joints - is the real, long-term worry.

Sorry to be OT, but the "bleeding to death" bit is a furphy which I try to correct anywhere necessary (I have haemophilia).

Posted by: Private-for-obvious-reasons at December 7, 2003 at 10:17 AM

“Michael Holding made a meal of it while doing the commentator and he was completely out of order.”

No word yet on which commentator Holding was doing.

Posted by: tim at December 7, 2003 at 10:44 AM


To 'make a meal of' something (or SOMEONE) also has a sexual connotation, at least in America. To wit:

I truly doubt that Bush's opponents will 'make a meal' out of something he does.

However, I am going to stop commenting on your post and go 'make a meal' out of a very nice young lady...

Posted by: jaguar_mirror at December 7, 2003 at 10:44 AM

jaguar_mirror -- it does? Ew. Talk about TMI.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 7, 2003 at 11:34 AM

Tim -"A Haliburton contractor, I bet!". I thought yeah, funny but just a smart-arse remark. But after reading one of the comments over at I went here - and read this - "P.S. The turkey prop itself was, in all likelihood, provided by Halliburton." So I thought maybe someone had sent me to a spoof site but no. Tim was right. And you would have to search democraticunderground or some of the Arab media to find a sillier story than 'Turkeygate".

Posted by: Softly at December 7, 2003 at 11:53 AM

Lawson's article is really quite insane - delusional with strange little incoherent touches. "Certain to be taught at schools of democracy and journalism for years to come" - can he really believe this?

Apart from repeatedly referring to the bird as "plastic", he says that a "revelation" "revealed" it was genetically modified. No source for this supposed revelation is cited and nobody else seems to know about it. Even worse, he seriously expects readers to share his delusion that this was all pre-planned for the 2004 election campaign and even implies that the bird was flown in with Bush for this purpose.

This kind of lazy, sloppy reliance on rhetoric and prejudice rather than fact is reminiscent of our own Phillip Adams.

The extent of the man's dishonesty and sloppiness is only reinforced by his paranoid blathering about NASA. "It is rumoured ..." he says and then goes on to treat these highly implausible (and, again, completely unsourced) rumours as established fact and one more item of evidence in his case against Bush: "The mooted new moonshots are calculated to wipe from the collective memory the images of the Challenger disaster." Yep, *calculated*!! As if it was somehow Bush's fault.

Presumeably, the genetically-modifed plastic turkey who wrote this article is referring to the Columbia accident, which has temporarily grounded the shuttle fleet - NASA has a substantial record of achievement since the 1986 Challenger accident. If NASA looked like it was going to get a massive injection of funds - which does not seem likely from where I am sitting - it would almost certainly be spent on developing a completely new re-useable launch vehicle and not on moonshots.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at December 7, 2003 at 12:44 PM

Bob Bunnett---I think the "genetically modified" was an attempt at humor. You know, it was plastic---that's some genetic modification!

While I was wading through Lawson's article, I got the impression that he thought that Bush had brought the turkey to Baghdad:

And the pretend chef had flown to Baghdad...

Apart from risking his life to deliver a stunt turkey to the Baghdad mess...

But I figured that these, too, were attempts at humor. I mean, no one could be so dim as to believe that Bush had pretended to deliver one stone cold turkey to feed 600 soldiers. Er, right?

Actually, Bush is making noises about returning to the moon, so that part's not completely crazy.

Notice the "rocks have rights" aside. It's all about the titanium!

Posted by: Angie Schultz at December 7, 2003 at 02:25 PM

Hi Angie! I don't doubt that human beings will return to the moon one day - maybe as a prelim for a mission to Mars. As the article you linked to indicates, it is likely to be some time in the future, though. In the meantime, relatively cheap and reliable human access to Earth orbit (ie with an updated re-usable launch vehicle) is a very necessary step on the way.

It's all good, though!

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at December 7, 2003 at 11:00 PM

>your small inner voice must be gagging on humble pie by now

Why the hell should ours be, Miranda? You're projecting.

Posted by: John Nowak at December 7, 2003 at 11:05 PM

Miranda Divide is really Margo Kingston? Hmmm. As an American and someone who prides himself on trying not reading anyone or anything stupid unless its humorous, I find this theory interesting. Because one time, at Tim's behest, I linked to the cerebrally challenged Margo which unfortunately also had her byline photo. Now I'm exactly what you would call "man-pretty," but DAMN, Margo looks like Death eatin' a cracker. I don't know if Miranda is Margo but I'm pretty sure she's a man, though. Same thing.

Posted by: Harry at December 7, 2003 at 11:25 PM

that should read "Now I'm NOT exactly what you would call "man-pretty" Sheesh, Preview is my friend, preview is my friend, preview is my friend.

Posted by: Harry at December 8, 2003 at 12:01 AM

Iraqi marching in the street, risking more then their afternoon. Give us liberty the 1000 might as well have been saying.

And the press wants to discuss thanksgiving leftovers.

Posted by: papertiger at December 8, 2003 at 09:05 AM

You folks are a bunch of idiots. Oh, sorry, I should have said a "flock of turkeys." Anybody that feels so charmed by a faux Texan who can't even CEO successfully must be dealing with some pretty serious mental disorders. Find help quick!!

Posted by: Elvis P. at December 8, 2003 at 11:25 PM

"Faux Texan"?

GWB was born here, lived here almost all his life, owns land here, always done business here. What more should GWB do to become a REAL Texan? [my suggestion: shoot a few holes in your worthless ass with a Colt Peacemaker, but that's just me.]

Posted by: Kim du Toit at December 13, 2003 at 09:15 AM

Anybody who has ever served in the military (unlike these puke journalists) would know that at Thanksgiving, there traditionally is a centerpiece turkey on display. Soldiers get their food from a serving line and President Bush practiced the honorable tradition of serving his troops. The national news media is biased and unethical. This is a new low for them. The troops obviously love and respect their Commander in Chief, and he obviously loves and respects them. Newsweek, The Washington Post and others who tried to take away from the President's honoring of American fighting men and women are disgraceful.

Posted by: Tony Lentini at December 17, 2003 at 09:36 AM