Yesterday they said it might be a hoax, today they’re saying it is a hoax, and a few hours ago Mancow posted at Big Hollywood to deny all charges. Read both Gawker items for the full rundown, but in a nutshell, they got hold of some e-mails sent by Mancow’s publicist the day before the stunt and found this:
It is going to have to look “real” but of course would be simulated with Mancow acting like he is drowning. It will be a hoax but have to look real. Would be great if they could dress in fatigues and bring whatever is needed. We will supply the water
Reached for comment, the publicist said she’d initially misunderstood that it would be real. Today they talked to Klay South, the Marine who did the pouring, and he came clean:
I know nothing about waterboarding. I had never done it before, I have no formal training in it, and I’ve never had it done to me. The only thing I knew was what I saw on the internet. I went to waterboarding.org and looked it up. I just did what I was told—poured the water on his face and that was it. I’m probably the last person they should have had do it. I didn’t know what I was doing.
They also note that, contra Hitchens, Mancow wasn’t restrained, didn’t have his face completely covered, wasn’t positioned on a full-body decline, and might have had the water poured on him inappropriately. To which Mancow replies: So what? It wasn’t supposed to be an exact recreation of CIA black sites, just a layman’s attempt to see what the fuss is about.
The CIA technique is exactly what we did:
1. Keep the chest elevated above the head and neck to keep the lungs “above the waterline.”
2. Incline the head, both to keep the throat open and to present the nostrils for easier filling.
3. Force the mouth open so that water can be poured into both the nose and mouth.
Question: If Mancow — who scoffed at waterboarding for years and even now in his Big Hollywood post insists he’d authorize it against terrorists to try to stop an attack — was going to fake his waterboarding, why wouldn’t he have popped up at the end and declared that it’s not torture? He would have gotten huge buzz for the stunt no matter what; the only difference if he’d laughed off the ordeal was that it would have come from the right instead of the left. What’s his motive in claiming that he suffered? It makes more sense to assume that, whether or not he went in there thinking it was a goof, he really did end up suffering. In which case (a) the waterboarding isn’t so much a hoax as an amateurish effort that ended up being surprisingly effective and (b) the fact that it was less severe than what detainees endure and yet Mancow’s still willing to call it torture makes him that much more compelling a spokesman.
Oh, fun footnote: Olbermann’s producers admitted that they knew about the publicist’s “hoax” e-mail before the interview with Mancow and yet Olby, ever intent on being told what he wants to hear, didn’t think to ask him about it. Should be a fun “Worst Person in the World” segment tonight.
Update: TV Newser says Mancow will be on “Countdown” again tonight to address Gawker’s report. Um, given Kayo’s supposedly passionate opposition to waterboarding, why did it take a gossip blog to inform our modern-day Murrow that the procedures used in Mancow’s stunt weren’t up to CIA specs?