|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Wednesday, December 29th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org|
|The White House Situation Room is the storied basement apartment where Presidents and their National Security Advisors and staff repair during a crisis. Into the Situation Room, information from high-tech satellites, secret agents, the military, and just about every other source flows; from the Situation Room, armies are ordered to march, fleets of ships are dispatched to distant trouble spots, squadrons of bombers and fighters are mobilized to defend or attack. So vital is the information gathered in the Situation Room that during the 9/11 attacks, the ranking government official on duty at the time, Vice-President Dick Cheney, chose to get his news from cable TV instead.
Little known, but far more important even than the Situation Room, is its companion apartment one floor below: the White House Manipulation Room. Unlike the Situation Room, which is largely untenanted except during emergencies, the Manipulation Room hums with activity at all hours of the day and night. Three times the size of its upstairs neighbor, the walls of the Manipulation Room are lined with banks of flat screen televisions. Trained operators monitor hundreds of radio stations, piped in via satellite, from around the country. Earnest readers devour every page of dozens of newspapers, tapping careful notes into the latest model computers. Web sites are scanned by the thousands for relevant content. Using special software, the fruits of the Manipulation Room workers’ labor are gathered, sorted, and ranked in a constantly refreshed database.
Abimelech V. Oover, National Manipulation Administration Head (NMAH), is the hard-driving official in charge of this beehive of activity.
“It’s very good of you to grant us this rare interview, Mr. Oover. Most of the country has never heard of the White House Manipulation Room. Can you, as NMAH, give us an idea of what you’re doing here?”
“That’s N.M.A.H. son. We always sound out all the letters. Sure, glad to show you around. We like to think that just as the boys upstairs are guarding the nation’s physical and material well-being, down here we’re looking out for spiritual and moral danger. All these folks you see working here are on the alert for indecency. They’re looking out for lies. They’re preventing the promotion of ideas not in keeping with mainstream values. And we don’t just report on those evils; we act against them. Take a small example. See that monitor over there? That’s a real-time streaming feed from a pilotless drone equipped with a telephoto camera. The drone is flying around Washington D.C. right now, right over our heads, keeping us and our families safe. The monitor is checked 24/7, believe you me – here at NMA we never sleep.”
“So your drone is on the lookout for terrorists?”
“Terrorists? Hell no, son. That bad boy has one mission only: checking up on nekkid women statues here in the nation’s capital. Remember when Ashcroft over at DOJ had those nekkid statues draped in blue sheets? Well, we stayed out of the limelight, but that was our doing. Why, there are dozens of nekkid women statues all over town; practically every big government building more than forty years old has at least one or two. We spot ‘em, dispatch a covert squad, and cover ‘em up. Then we make sure they stay covered. At NMA, we like to say we’re the purge that lasts. Little inside joke there boy, no need to write that down” Oover added hastily.
The NMAH grabbed your correspondent’s arm. “Looky here. See all those TVs? Every one of ‘em is tuned to sports programs. Now, when Ms. Jackson and Ms. Sheridan bared their selves on national TV, there was a hue and cry that was heard from Maine to San Diego. We were behind it. Every one of those thousands of emails and phone calls and newspaper letters to the editor came right out of this room. Yessir, every one. And if they ever do it again, why, we’ll be all over ‘em, faster than a hooker gettin' undressed. I personally guarantee it.”
“But surely Mr. Oover your operation isn’t devoted exclusively to suppressing scantily clad females. Is it?”
“Hell no, son. That’s just a little special interest of mine. Why most of the time, we’re in the trenches, countering all the lies that just seem to bubble up out of nowhere. Now see, here’s a perfect example. My gal Lizzie Ann over here, she came across this piece in The New York Review of Books about terrible things happenin’ over in Iraq.* Well now, all she has to do is pick up that big red phone over there, and tomorrow one of the biggest circulation newspapers in the country is going to have a big article about how great the war effort is going. Ain’t that right, Lizzie Ann?”
“Surely is, Mr. Oover” said Lizzie Ann, shyly.
“That phone,” I asked her, “is it connected directly to the executive offices upstairs?”
Lizzie Ann’s eyes grew wide. “Why, no sir. That’s the hot line to the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page.”
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2004
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