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November 22, 2005

Cheney Latest Marks


Others can hash out why and how it happened.  For The BAG’s purposes, however, the fact a technical glitch at CNN superimposed several almost subliminal “X” marks over Dick Cheney during his speech to the American Enterprise Institute makes for an evocative image.

The perfection of the visual is that it graphically symbolizes what happens now every time Cheney speaks about the Administration’s role in preparing for war.  In other words, a perceptual canceling effect occurs at some point in between the time the words leave Cheney’s mouth and they arrive at the viewer’s ear.

The interaction of the symbol with the screen titling is also interesting.  Do you remember that fad (possibly popularized by Saturday Night Live) where a person would make a declarative statement, then pause and exclaim the word “NOT!” after it.  On the screen, according to convention, the text summarizes that part of his speech where Cheney duplicitously asserts that the Administration respects the right to criticize.  The “X” simply removes the bitter taste of calling him a liar.

Finally, consider the metaphorical richness of applying an “X”.  For example, you can vote “no” with an “X.”  The “X” can designate a defective product beneath it.  And then, there is always the “X”-rating — implying that the acts Cheney has perpetrated on the country have been obscene.

(image: Drudge Report. November 22, 2005)

  • jonst

    The symbol X conjurs up all the images you note. But you miss one I would argue. X–as in, not there anymore.

  • eva

    The only thing that could have made the “glitch” more delicious would have been seeing it aired on the FOX House, I mean FOX News.

  • Mad_nVT

    Exellent X.
    It is a relief that Cheney is saying that he does “not believe that it is wrong to criticize.” Maybe he is turning into a warrior from freedom. Or maybe he is thinking that his ship is sinking.
    Looking at other words on the screen, it looks like that ERP is a big belch of foul air blowing out his ear.

  • Kevin

    “And then, there is always the “X”-rating — implying that the acts Cheney has perpetrated on the country have been obscene.”
    I concur.

  • Marysz

    Cheney is, as usual, looking down and away from the camera reading off a written script. Does he use a teleprompter? Cheney is so full of contempt for the American people that he can’t even be bothered to look at them when he speaks. The “X” signals what Cheney’s opinion is about the rest of us. Go f**k yourselves, America.

  • lemondloulou54

    And there’s also the chance that Cheney is Woodward’s Mister X. . . .

  • lytom

    The smaller X on his forehead would have been enough for me…
    Sign for conspirators, liars, and evil doers.
    Sign X for reason to impeach!

  • Chuck

    The negative implementation of X that I think I most easily identify with is the automobile-path-identification use. You see it lots of places; at the bank or toll booth, it signifies which lanes are attended and available for use. In the case of reversable highway lanes (i.e., the Kennedy Expressway’s “express” lanes in Chicago), they not only signify a path that would be unwise and illegal to take, but one that would in fact lead to much personal harm.
    It’s that imagery that I associated when I first saw the picture above: a sign that says “this is neither a smart nor responsible (nor safe) option — choose another path”.
    I love this site, though I only seldom delurk to post things. Great minds and great thoughts in here! Thank you all for taking this story farther than just “Heey, CNN hates Republicans and this proves it!”

  • Roy

    I think of “x’s” as being marks on a treasure map. Now we know where the WMD’s are hiding.

  • Gasho

    X = Wrong Answer. Cheney is trying to drag out the same lines he always has, but you can’t lie effectively if everyone knows you are lying. Torture is not a popular position to hold – at least not openly. What does Cheney stand for in the minds of the public if not “lying” and “torture”?
    X = Target. Could this be the digital video (media) version of crosshairs aiming at an unpopular and easily attackable target?
    X = Sign of the Cross. Like in vampire movies where the cross or holy water was the way to fend off the evil beast. I be a little holy water sprinkled on Cheneys head would burn like White Phosphorous (.. as I’m sure it does in the dreams of many of the war hawks who’ve sponsored recent attrocities).
    X = Dead. Two little x’s over the eyes is a classic cartoon symbol for being dead. Why not one huge X over the whole head?
    X = Voted Out. I hate reality shows, but voting out the weak seems a common theme among them – could that be showing up in the political games?
    It could mean any of those things, but NOTHING GOOD, that’s for sure.

  • Susan

    The X-Files anyone? He & the company he keeps are so OUT-OF-IT they are from OUTER SPACE – hence he/they are fodder for THE X-Files!

  • mdhatter

    as indicated here, this is most likely a weird technical glitch.
    The text under the X (above the crawl) says “Transistion begins after 5 frames of black” certainly nothing terribly sinister. Probably an honest live production error.
    A happy coincidence though.

  • jt from B.C.

    A minor glitch meets The Major Glitch, phenomenal odds, think STIGMATA ..1) A mark burned into the skin of a criminal(or slave)..2) or usually occurring during states of (religious ecstasy) or hysteria. There are other definitions but these two relate rather well to mdhatters “happy coincidence” Is this really “so weird”?

  • gleex

    Seems like an obvious prank, with the fallback possibility of error. The X is in the center of the frame (I think), as of course is Cheney’s melon. The camera/camera crew/production are focousing straight at the off side of Cheneys evil grin. The random moment of this frame from the speech video makes it seem to appear from a bird’s-eye view, down on Cheney’s head…partially since he is as usual reading his hateful lies off the notes (like Alberto “Torture Bandwagon” Gonzalez reads his speeches & indictments, unlike Patrick “No Notes Needed” Fitzgerald). When the camera focuses in on his evil grin it always makes me think of the shots on the Jon Stewart Show – as they do not shy away from showing him say the full line with that evin grin before and after.
    So in this case they pull their prank and zap his head with that big production “X”.
    It is a pretty good prank, and it looks and tastes like wonderful blog talk candy. I also admit that I think it is fairly irresponsible since it targets the Veeper in what could be percieved as a means to intimidate or antagonize the bulldog. They might even need to investigate to find the prankster, but its unlikely they could force someone to resign over a “technical” mistake.
    But what is the message of the prank more then the meaning of the “X” on the not soon enough to be EX-VeeperOTUS? Perhaps everyone is right, its:
    XXXEEEhhh! the price is wrong Liar Dick!
    The same as “Bawdey George! Liar George!” from Sienfield…”Liar Dick!”

  • Rafael

    X marks the nut?

  • Simon

    What is the text below the X? It appears to obscure the rest of what Cheney says so the comment looks like “Cheney: I do not believe”.

  • mdhatter

    simon, follow the link I posted above for the answer

  • Simon

    Thanks for that! :)

  • Simon

    I don’t doubt its a glitch but those pics on the link are not the same as one shown above.
    The text is two lines, however only one line is obscured and the layout of the X would imply that it should be over both.

  • fotonique

    How could BNN resist the Cheney X image? After looking through trackbacks at the bottom of the The Cheney X Revealed blogpost (thanX, mdhatter), neither could many others.
    What’s Xtraordinary about this image are the mutually-reinforcing speculations that both left and right have built up around it. The right sees it as more proof of the liberal media’s conspiracy to shoot down conservatives, and the left sees it as more proof of the neocons’ evil conspiracy to conquer the world.
    Look again: it was a technical glitch, even though some might imagine it a revelation.
    BAG, I thought at first that you overlooked BNN Rule #2. Consider your opening statement:

    Others can hash out why and how it happened. For The BAG’s purposes, however, the fact a technical glitch at CNN superimposed several almost subliminal “X” marks over Dick Cheney during his speech to the American Enterprise Institute makes for an evocative image.

    Hmmm… you admit the X was a CNN technical glitch, but others can dig up the real explanation while you opine a disconnected trail of criticism and broad generalizations? You suggest that, while examining an accidental image of a man’s obscured, downcast, expressionless face, the viewers’ unconscious eye might see:

    • A perfect visual that symbolizes what happens every time Cheney speaks.
    • A perceptual canceling effect between Cheney’s mouth and the viewer’s ear.
    • Cheney as duplicitous.
    • Cheny as a liar.
    • Cheney as perpetrator of obscene acts on the United States.

    I’m afraid that your stripes are really showing here, but you have made excellent phrenological progress since divining the back of Cheney’s head.
    Fortunately for the benefit of BNN readers, BNN Rule #2 has not been entirely forgotten. You’ve succesfully demonstrated several examples of propaganda that enlivened what would have otherwise been a discarded outtake. Four out of seven isn’t bad—see A Brief History of Propaganda:

    1. Card-stacking: Build a highly-biased case for your position.
    2. Glittering generalities: Use power words to evoke emotions.
    3. Name-calling: Denigrating opponents.
    4. Transfer: Associate the leader with trusted others [but in a strictly negative sense.]

    ThanX for the lesson!

  • Tracy

    Thanks, fotonique. If not for your post, I would have been completely taken in by Bag’s devious technique.

  • momly

    Gawrsh, me to! Ha-yup!

  • jt from B.C.

    As you are a very acute observer I was surprised that you confined your observation to Cheney’s head. Was his upper back the tilt of the head and posture insignificant? Will you consider adding anatomical drawings of the upper torso and a pictorial posture analysis to complete the record? It was rather clever introducing phrenology it stretched my imagination.(which is not difficult as I am challenged in simply constraining it) What comment stimulated you to offer those delightful drawings.?
    I am familiar with the list of seven propaganda methods..“that have become somewhat of a standard.” The sixteen techniques listed in Wikipedia I find more comprehensive. So if scoring points was important they would be my template.
    The nature and nuances of propaganda outside the basic rules structure I find challenging, for the following reasons,
    Maintaining neutrality or objectivity is one of the most difficult challenges faced by experts in the ‘soft sciences’ eg sociology, psychology, political science .. you know the list. (even in particle physics which is thought of as a ‘hard science’ the influence of an observer on matter has been observed!). So when discussing propaganda are we dealing with art, science or a combination or some other factors? Zinn’s statement below can I think be generalized to propaganda and may assist in further examination of its nature and nuances, outside of seven or sixteen or whatever number of methods.
    “In political science for instance, a political theorist discusses transcendental visions of the good society, some one else presents factual descriptions of present governments. But no one deals with both the is and the ought, if they did they would have to deal with the how to get from here to there, from present reality to poetic vision. Note how little work is done in political science on the tactics of social change. Both students and teacher deal with theory and reality in separate courses, the compartmentalization safely neutralizes them”.
    Compartmentalization an interesting concept..isn’t it happening in just about everything we do? Are we neutralizing ourselves ?
    How might one analyze this advice …”it is clear that information dissemination strageties only become propanganda strageties when coupled with propangandistic messages.” (an extract from the intro to propaganda from wikipedia ) or this
    We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.
    John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963), October 26, 1963
    Doing another take on the X photograph why am I not surprised that AEI is prominently displayed. (an extreme right wing Think Tank humorously described as a place, “where Empire and black coffee are served daily”) Might the choice of Dick’s location (where GWB described as “his base” ) be part of ‘Card Stacking’ and ‘Bandwagon’ pictorial reinforcement, might there be ‘Transfer’ implication here. Of course we are not privy to this speech but I have consistently identified sixteen major points if he sounds off for about seven minutes, particularly groaning with his speciality the ‘Argumentum ad nauseam’ technique. How might Sy Hersh, Robert Fisk or the worlds # 1 intellectual be received by this AEI august body, suppose the # 1 started off with:
    “One of the ways you control what people think is by creating the illusion that there’s a debate going on, but making sure that, that debate stays within very narrow margins. Namely, you have to make sure that both sides in the debate accept certain assumptions, and those assumptions turn out to be the propaganda system. As long as everyone accepts the propaganda system, then you can have a debate.”
    Did I just hear the voice of the Vice President of the United States of America responding with that X rated fing word again ? (oh dear association or just hearing voices again ?)
    The photos of Messin’ About On The, Refection, Brick Lane, Flying Among Leaves, Jackson Pollock Nope! are captivating, are you the ‘fotonique’ himself what posted em ? or do you suggest I go to the site and comment on them there?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Oh. I thought The BAG meant that the propaganda was Cheney’s speech itself (which it was), not the X, but meanwhile the X was a hysterical coincidence because it fortuitously carries meaning as a symbol and let’s have some fun with this gift from CNN. I had NO IDEA The BAG was trying to BRAINWASH me!
    Now I’m depressed.

  • jt from B.C.

    readytoblowagasket (“which it was”) from my state of timidity, thanks for pointing out the OBVIOUS, now I could feel depressed for wasting so much of my time (and probably that of others as well) but instead I will enjoy a good chuckle for losing myself in the forest and climbing the wrong tree. (I’ll file this little verbal trip on propaganda under Interesting Misadventures)

  • readytoblowagasket

    jt from B.C.: When I get brave enough, I will investigate the 16 techniques of propaganda per Wikipedia — thanks for the reference. And the Kennedy quote is nice too.
    I happened to hear the Cheney speech on the radio rather than watch it on TV, so I missed the X-visual in real time, but I certainly got an earful of Cheney’s words. What struck me was how calmly he presented his points, his argument — as if everything he said was the most sensible of positions, the most irrefutable of facts. Never mind that he blurred the timeline and details of Osama bin Laden’s actions with Saddam Hussein’s, which is exactly what was done to gain public support for the war in Iraq. But it sure sounded convincing! I almost believed it myself. (NOT.)

  • mdhatter

    Simon, I agree. The link is his photoshop filered reconstruction.
    I think he typed on it to make it more obvious (and I agree with you, it confused the matter further). A (funny, well timed) bonehead gltich nonetheless.

  • The BAG

    I’m a little confused by fotonique’s comments. He says The BAG has:
    … successfully demonstrated several examples of propaganda that enlivened what would have otherwise been a discarded outtake.
    The fact is, this was not a discarded outtake. Matt Drudge and a good cross section of both the MSM, and the left and right blogosphere took a strong interest in it. Once any image gets that kind of play, it gives The BAG pause to understand why. In my mind, it wasn’t just the fact of the glitch, but also the way the glitch became visual manifest that was noteworthy. From that point, it seems fair game to offer associations as to what is so compelling about this specific (and highly symbolic) impression.
    (Or maybe fotonique is just pulling The BAG’s leg, and The BAG is being too serious?)

  • jeffy


  • fotonique

    The BAG said:

    (Or maybe fotonique is just pulling The BAG’s leg, and The BAG is being too serious?)

    Maybe, but am I pulling on the BAG’s left leg or his right one? (I had hoped both, actually.)
    Seriously, it’s hard to escape the pull of gravitas when words like duplicitous, liar, perpetrate, and obscene drag down the joke.
    I agree that what’s most notable about this image is the way left and right have reacted to it. But the X glitch is largely irrelevant: if it appeared over an unknown face, no one would have noticed. The fact that it appears over Cheney’s face is what generates all the foregone symbolic conclusions.
    In the case of Cheney X, the image analysis consists mainly of cheap shots (from right and left) aimed at an easy, demonized target (the left and right, respectively). Drudge up this kind of visual insight long enough and often enough, and all you get is propaganda.

  • readytoblowagasket

    fotonique: You forgot “defective” in your list of words The BAG used that have negative connotations.
    I disagree with your comment that the X-incident was largely irrelevant. The image you provided to support your argument is one I find compelling because it’s spooky. The illustration looks like a police sketch (a face unknown to the public), and the ghostly X over the face makes it difficult to see the features clearly — not the result one wants with a police sketch. The ghostly X is disruptive, exactly like the heavy black X over Cheney’s face. It’s more than a “glitch”; an X, of all possible symbols or letters, is not supposed to be there. It has a negating effect, especially when it is placed on top of a human being.
    When the normal expected order of our world is disrupted or stopped or changed suddenly, it is noticeable, compelling, and relevant when it makes us think. Many contemporary artists attempt to do just that: They want to make us stop and look and think, about issues like AIDS, abuse, power, politics, race, religion, pollution, war, you name it. It is perfectly relevant to stop and think about the X in relation to Cheney. It may even be the work of an artist who X’ed out Cheney because he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of other human beings. Pretty successful image we won’t forget soon, I’d say.

  • The BAG

    Your propaganda links are great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, but I think it’s too easy to dismiss the Cheney “X” by saying that he’s an easy, demonized target. The image earned the attention because Cheney continues to act like he is no target at all. Therefore, the “X” has something significant to say. Outside the Veep debate with John Edwards, and the guy in New Orleans caught on tape telling Cheney to f-himself, that one “X” is the only other visual rebuttal that Cheney has encountered. That’s pretty sad, but it makes the “X” noteworthy. Now, if you really want to talk about repetition as a propaganda technique, check out Bush’s Annapolis speech and the theme of VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY VICTORY…. Where was I?

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