Edge of Apocalypse: pages 124-130 (Chapter Twenty-Four)
In the bizarro world of LaHaye and Parshall’s writing, the same dishonest tactics used by the conservative right-wing propaganda mills media such as Fox News are, they believe, used by the dominant liberal media in this book. So let’s start by looking at their idea of what the liberal version of the No Spin Zone would be, or perhaps (as Al Franken mockingly puts it) Hannity and Colmes. (In fact most conservatives online call it the Sean Hannity show and basically ignore the token liberal punching bag Colmes, who Sean Hannity uses as his foil to “prove” how easy it is to steamroller those weak-assed liberals who don’t know anything.)
“Matt Christensen was trying hard to keep it together. With eighteen minutes of airtime still remaining, he knew he’d better get some control back. As the long-running host of Crisis Point, a talking-heads television/web simulcast, it was his job to help push the agenda forward while giving the impression that he was unbiased. And he was good at it. That’s why he got paid the big bucks.”
Kind of like how Bill O’Reilly claims he’s the unbiased No Spin Zone guy, but in actual fact, as Franken has documented, he has bullied people who present opposing viewpoints and has cut off their microphones, et cetera.
For even more egregious examples, Rush Limbaugh has presented himself as a “comedian”, but has deliberately blamed everybody but himself for gaffes and faux pases, both accidental and deliberate. One of his most famous was the White House Dog incident in which he refused to accept responsibility (funny, that, how he demands it from everybody else around him but hypocritically escapes it whenever possible for himself) for showing a picture of Chelsea Clinton even as he got the HAW HAW HAW YUK YUK YUK roar of laughter from the audience for his Clinton-bashing.
Or, for that matter, for a time, he would purposely play the sound of a vacuum cleaner over people who tried to protest his anti-abortion stance. Reaching even further back, he would mockingly read out the list of people who died from AIDS on his radio show in California.
Now, at least true to stereotype the “liberal” version of all this in Edge of Apocalypse doesn’t sink to such lows as grossly unacceptable personal slurs on politicians or minorities, but still it’s a rather illuminating look at what LaHaye and Parshall (and thus, their intended audence) fantasize the media to really be like in the United States of America.
“Last week’s show had gone smoothly. The truckers had been marginalized exactly as the White House had wanted. Both of Matt’s guests, a leftwing journalist and a liberal strategist, had, of course, been personally handpicked by Corland’s press secretary. And the resulting program had served its purpose. But the ratings, along with the program itself, had been lackluster. There was no conflict. No reason to watch.
Today’s show, however, was proving to be a different story altogether. Inside the Global News Network’s New York studio, a verbal free-for-all had erupted. And while these types of scuffles could increase viewer numbers and ad revenue, if the agenda suffered, heads would roll. The same reliable guests from the previous week had already been booked. So the show’s new exec, to spice things up a bit, decided to add a third guest to the mix. It would be his first and last mistake.
Matt had tried to discourage this young new producer from booking Patrick Forester because Patrick was … well, he was articulate. And he could hold his own under pressure. Despite a barrage of interruptions and constant ridicule from his opponents, the conservative strategist was able to fire off a couple of key points, even though he was outnumbered by a margin of two-to-one–three-to-one, if you counted Matt.”
The fact that they believe in the embattled-conservative mentality is quite interesting. In real life it has taken people like James Carville to make any liberal headway in the 1990s media and even he bowed out not long after Clinton left his job.
The chapter moves into discussing worldwide current events, such as the RTS-RGS swap-for-money-and-oil idea:
“‘Fifty-eight percent of the American people feel that Secretary of State Danburg’s speech at the Davos peace conference went too far,’ Patrick announced. ‘They believe that America shouldn’t be so quick to trade our RTS weapons technology with other countries. Fifty-eight percent! And that’s using your own poll numbers! I imagine the numbers are in reality quite a bit higher.’
Michael Kaufman, the journalist, shot back. ‘Whoa, hold on! So now you’re claiming the polls are rigged?’
‘The parent company that owns the very news service you work for, Mike, conducted the poll. And everybody knows you guys are nothing but a mouthpiece for the Corland administration. You guys wouldn’t know how to conduct an unbiased poll if it snuck up behind you and bit you on–‘”
Considering that Fox News has widely been derided as the trumpet section for the Bush White House and that they have been regularly accused of slanting news and polling coverage, I find it extremely bizarre to keep looking at this fun-house-mirror distorted version of our own world.
Skipping ahead a bit, the pundits move to debating the ramifications of the North Korean attack:
“But Patrick charged ahead like a bull pushing his way through the noise. ‘The Pentagon has confirmed that the North Koreans were the ones who launched two nuclear missiles. And it was good ol’ American technology that was able to turn them around and send them back. The studio we’re sitting in right now, along with many New Yorkers viewing this program, wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the RTS system.’
‘That may be true,’ the journalist responded, ‘but the administration has released a statement to the Special Select Congressional Committee investigating this incident, stating that President Corland did not authorize the use of RTS during the crisis. His understanding was that our air-defense people at NORAD and NEADS would be taking those missiles down with conventional airborne intercepts.’
But Patrick had an answer for that too. ‘If you recall, Mike, there wasn’t enough time for that.’
‘Nevertheless, without notifying the White House and Congress, a defense contractor took the matter into his own hands. Now this same defense contractor is refusing to cooperate with Congress,’ Kaufman continued. ‘He’s stonewalling. The American government has a right to know exactly how this system operates.'”
Let’s stop and try to tie some things together so as to understand what LaHaye and Parshall are constructing in terms of a plot. It has already been established that a leak from the oversight committee investigating the use of RTS-RGS has caused the media to start portraying Josh Jordan as a man out for his own wallet rather than a Real True Patriot. Given that in the novel, the US Government is actually the agency claimed to be trying to go for the high bidder, the intention is to show that those wascally politicians over in the White House are trying to throw Jordan to the wolves and are manipulating the media to further that objective by lying about who gave authorization to use RTS-RGS (I’m pretty sure the President would have had to be notified that the Pentagon was considering throwing this experimental system into play as a last-ditch effort).
Thus, Josh Jordan will be an innocent victim of those nasty venal politicians who doth protest too much about his motives, as we see below:
“‘The only reason this administration wants to know is so they can sell the technology to other countries, as Secretary Danburg so eloquently announced during his speech at Davos–‘
‘Hey, nobody said anything about selling anything, Patrick!’ the liberal strategist shouted. ‘If anybody’s trying to make money, it’s your buddy Joshua Jordan, who’s obviously holding out for the highest bidder–‘”
There is a very good point made in the next paragraph but LaHaye and Parshall slide pretty quickly past it (bold mine):
“‘Okay, guys, come on,’ the host interrupted. ‘Let’s take a deep breath. This is a good time to take a break. When we come back, I want to talk about the real problem, in my opinion, the ethical repercussions of turning nuclear weapons back onto civilian populations. Because Joshua Jordan’s RTS defense system will certainly lead to that. And I also want to discuss just who Mr. Jordan really is and why he’s in the hot seat before Congress. Until he’s more forthcoming, we’re all going to remain in the dark. And in today’s volatile world, that’s never a safe place to be. We’ll be right back.'”
Right after this, the White House Press Secretary meets with the President’s Chief of Staff. Their discussion results in the following:
“‘I already know the basics of the line we’re going to use. Secretary of State Danburg’s speech was taken out of context. The administration has made no formal decision to trade RTS designs for international economic assistance. Then we quickly shift the focus off of the president and onto Congress. They need to exercise their congressional authority. You know, use the oversight committee’s contempt powers to force Joshua Jordan to be forthcoming … blah, blah, blah …'”
So Josh’s going to be in the hot seat for a while longer.
Meantime, we switch after a section break to Caesar Demas.
“‘Mr. Demas, we appreciate your offer to negotiate as a mediator between the United States and other key countries regarding the sharing of our RTS technology. But regrettably, we will have to decline your offer.’
‘I understand,’ Demas casually responded.
‘As I’m sure you can appreciate, current political realities have rendered such a trade…well, not feasible at this time.'”
He, in turn, calls Feditzch and grouses a little then instructs recontact with Zimler to reinstate the original plan to seize the RTS-RGS by force.
“Caesar Demas was on the line. ‘It’s me.’
‘You know, Petri, I told the State Department to have that idiot Danburg avoid making it obvious in his speech about swapping the RTS for better international trade terms. But no, he wouldn’t listen. So the poll numbers went south for the White House, and now they’ve got cold feet. It looks as if we’ll have to get the RTS the hard way. We are returning to Plan A.’
[ … ]
‘All right. I hope this is the last time we have to change course…’
‘Just deliver the message,’ Demas barked. ‘Considering your former KGB status, Petri, I am surprised at you. You are like a little girl. Are you afraid to talk to the messenger?’
Petri glanced into his rearview mirror to see if he was being followed.
‘Not at all. My sole concern is for success of the mission.’
[ … ]
‘I would appreciate it if our messenger didn’t leave a messy trail behind him.’
‘That may be a problem.’
‘And why is that?’ Demas asked.
‘Because creating a human mess is what he does best.'”
With that, we move to the human loose cannon Zimler, whose apparent desire for “human messes” may land him in trouble later.
“By the time Atta Zimler got the call from Petri Feditzch he was already driving a different vehicle and had left the highway. After heading down a deserted dirt road in a wooded area in northern New York State for a few miles, he pulled off and entered a fire lane that cut through the forest. He then drove a half mile into the woods before coming to the edge of a clearing where there was a peaty bog full of black mud. Before getting out, he stopped and looked at himself in the mirror.
[ … ]
He clicked on the cheap, untraceable InstaAllfone that he had picked up at a local gas station and answered the call while popping the trunk of the car.
It was Petri. ‘The boss says the mission is a go. Exactly as planned. You can start up again.’
Zimler had to smile at that. He had only one thing to say. ‘I never stopped.’
He clicked off the call and stuffed the Allfone in his pocket.”
I think Feditzch probably shat bricks after hearing that. KGB man he may have been, but this means he was acculturated in an organization that was based on certain rules and traditions and would have to have cast a dim eye on ‘cowboy’ type agents who disregarded instructions from central HQ. In any organization, Buck Williams to the contrary, people who don’t follow instructions usually get the hairy eyeball from the higher-ups. People don’t usually give orders just because they love hearing the sound of their own voices. They give orders because they want things to get done, be it in a sprawling multinational corporation or a shadowy intelligence agency.
I’m going to skip the next part because it’s kind of gruesome. Basically, Zimler uses the peat bog to ‘dispose’ of the body of the former owner of the car he’s now driving.
Next chapter we say hello to Abigail Jordan and one of her close friends.