Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Debkafile is Stupid

As many people probably know, Debkafile is a news and commentary website with an emphasis on "scoops" on security and terrorism issues.

It bears a neo-conservative approach with a tendency towards conspiracy theories.

I occasionally read it for entertainment value, although unaware surfers might become alarmed at their frequent dire warnings of impending disasters.

Some of you may be familiar with the documentary hypothesis for higher Biblical criticism. This utilizes the idea that sources from multiple authors were weaved together to produce the final version of the Bible that we have today. This theory solves the problems of multiple inconsistencies, anachronisms and contradictions that appear throughout the text.

I believe that the same methodology can be applied to Debkafiles "news" items. Although sources are never quoted and the articles' writers are never revealed , it seems that there are at least 3 different writers who produce this nonsense.

1. E-- the "editorialist"-- periodically a "report" will appear that is essentially a far right wing conspiratorial opinion piece, weaving together mostly known facts with a small dose of conjecture, to produce a story that paints a picture of complete failure, doom and gloom, and impending disaster. Israel's leaders are consistently shown to be incompetent, ignorant, malevolent, or all of the above. Israel leaders are also generally assumed to be deceiving the Israeli public about the enemy's endless capabilities. The enemy's leaders are portrayed as cunning, all-knowing, frighteningly powerful and competent. All events are shown to neatly fall into the scheme that the enemy has designed. So every new item, even just a comment, however seemingly minor, are seen as cataclysmic and fateful, somehow having a lasting and dramatic effect on the turn of events. Any tactical setback on Israel's part is presented as proof of our incompetence and impending defeat. Any tactical "success" of the enemy is greatly exagerrated by E to prove that the enemy is ever closer to its inevitable goal of defeating Israel. For Debka, usually the "end game" that moves closer with each fateful turn of events is total warfare.

2. S-- the "scooper"-- S scours the internet and other anonymous sources for tidbits of information. Some of these "scoops" prove to be correct and appear in the mainstream press shortly after appearing on Debka. Some appear to be total fantasy, like the impending terrorist attack in NYC which put the authorities on high alert in 2007. S often interprets these scoops, like his colleague "E" with a conspiratorial slant, weaving together seemingly unrelated or routine news items into a big story. S's favorite item is movements of warships, which are frequently used to indicated impending war. Another favorite is ominously reporting on some event that occurred "the very first time", showing us that we are ever closer to the inevitable Armageddon.

I think S could be divided into S1 and S2. S1 gets these scoops from lesser known but legitimate news sources, such as military publications, foreign media, etc. S2 get his information from whacky internet blabber or from some unnamed blabbing "official" who may or may not know whats going on. An example of this would be a so called detailed account of a secret conversation between an Iranian and a Syrian official.

Generally, I agree with many bloggers' assessments that Debkafile makes us dumber, not smarter. You can't really learn anything new from them, its mostly conspiracy theory.

Let me know what you think.

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