White House smear campaign targets Humor Gazette

By John Breneman

The Bush administration moved to silence yet another of its vocal critics today, mounting a smear campaign against the Humor Gazette, the influential satire newspaper that poked fun at the president's ill-advised deployment of a comic bomb.

Donald Rumsfeld denounced the Gazette as a "subversive left-wing laugh rag" whose editor is merely trying to drum up publicity for his new book, "George W. Bush: Behind the Smirk."

Rumsfeld challenged the Gazette to produce evidence supporting its shocking allegation that the president suffers from a malignant fib-nose, a rare Pinocchio-like condition that may leave him with as little as seven months to lead.

Condy to speak

Gazette publisher Arturo DeMaunchie declined to comment, saying he was distracted by a Blackhawk helicopter hovering outside his window. But a spokesman said the Gazette's vigilant commitment to fake journalistic integrity mandates that it painstakingly fabricate every word of its explosive investigative satire. For example, the paper pretended to interview multiple anonymous sources before printing its Feb. 13 expose "President may have evaded Boy Scout service."

Condoleezza Rice said the administration's policy of being really secretive about everything precluded her from commenting, but in an interview with Regis Philbin she said the Gazette is just angling to get Mel Gibson's people to option its script for "Lethal Weapons of Mass Destruction."

But the fledgling media conglomerate responded that it has a strict policy separating its journalistic mission from its entertainment division, and sees no conflict in pitching Hollywood screenplays for "Last Tango in Pakistan," "Allah Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "Al Qaeda on the Western Front."

Critics contend the White House has helped blur the increasingly fuzzy line between real journalism and fake news with its disturbing record of deception and "utter fiction." In "Operation Iraqi Infoganda," Frank Rich of the New York Times says the administration "has responded to the growing national appetite for fictionalized news by producing a steady supply of its own."

Times columnist Paul Krugman says the White House policy of character assassination for high-level dissenters like former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke "provides more evidence of something rotten in the state of our government."

Meanwhile there are unconfirmed reports of government workers being fired for reading the Humor Gazette, harsh proof the president means business when he says, "Either you are with us or you are with the satirists."

Imaginary reporters Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia, best known for their phony White House-funded "coverage" of Medicare, contributed to this report.

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