Thursday, January 12, 2012


This, from Arthur Brisbane, the public editor of The New York Times, is being met with scorn and derision:

Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?

I'm looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge "facts" that are asserted by newsmakers they write about....

[One] example: on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney often says President Obama has made speeches "apologizing for America," a phrase to which Paul Krugman objected in a December 23 column arguing that politics has advanced to the "post-truth” stage.

As an Op-Ed columnist, Mr. Krugman clearly has the freedom to call out what he thinks is a lie. My question for readers is: should news reporters do the same? ...

I know what the obvious answer is: of course news reporters at the Times (and elsewhere) should do the same.

But in reality, how do you even begin to do this in any comprehensive way when the typical statement made by any Republican -- on any subject, on any given day -- is like this one from Senator Jim DeMint on MSNBC's Morning Joe, as flagged by Media Matters (hat tip: Steve Benen)?

JON MEACHAM (REPORTER): Senator, you've been in Washington now for 12 years. Actually more, sorry. Have things changed in a palpable, tactile way in terms of getting things done from when you came in?

DEMINT: Yeah, I think they are more polarized. And it's a contrast I try to make in the book because we really no longer have a shared vision. I mean, I know from business that you have people coming from different directions, they can work together if they have shared goals and a shared vision. But now we have the tension between those who want centralized power, government control of education, health care, transportation, energy, and Republicans, who are I think finding their footing around their core principles of we need to devolve power out of Washington, we need to decentralize, because that's what makes America work, is the bottom-up approach.

So saying to compromise now, and I use this analogy a lot, is just like a coach telling his team to go out and work with the other guys and cooperate with them. The Democrats are there to beat us. Every policy that they introduce is to centralize power. They are completely incapable of cutting spending because their constituency is based on dependency on government and those who want more from government.

Total words uttered by DeMint? 182. Number of lies? Well, let's try to enumerate just some of them:

* "those who want centralized power, government control of ... health care": Well, consider the law most Republicans consider the epitome of centralized Stalinism: the health care law. There are provisions for state alternatives to the law's framework. On the other hand, just about every Republican in America supports the notion that health insurance should be sold across state lines -- which would inevitably mean that every state's laws protecting insurance customers would be trumped by the laws of whatever state allowed the insurance companies the most freedom to screw customers. Who's the centralizing party here?

* "those who want ... government control of education": Um, George W. Bush was a Democrat? I didn't know that.

* "Republicans, who are I think finding their footing around their core principles of we need to devolve power out of Washington, we need to decentralize": Really? Since when do Republicans (apart from those named Paul) think state law should trump federal law on medical marijuana? (I know, I know: Democrats are no better.) And which party has the most politicians calling for a federal marriage amendment?

* "So saying to compromise now, and I use this analogy a lot, is just like a coach telling his team to go out and work with the other guys and cooperate with them." No, it isn't "just like" that. Every sporting event has one winner and one loser. In a well-run government, the sides can split the difference in an infinite number of ways.

* "They are completely incapable of cutting spending": For better or worse, Democrats have been offering all kinds of plans to cut spending -- they just keep getting rejected by Republicans because they're paired with targeted tax increases. Oh, and which party in recent memory had a president who balanced several budgets?

* "because their constituency is based on dependency on government and those who want more from government": This is just the typical right-wing dog-whistle declaration that Democratic voters, by definition, are those damn bums on welfare.

That's just in one 182-word Republican statement.

So, yeah, newspapers should try to rebut obvious lies. But with Republicans, when would you ever be able to stop? How would you ever be able to do anything else?


BH said...

I suspect you're right. Time & space wouldn't allow rebuttal of such a Niagara of BS. Perhaps an alternative would be some intelligent editorial choices (for a change) as to what/who gets media attention. Example: I assume that the occasion for the Demint interview was the release of some book purportedly written by him, judging by context. Surely it's common knowledge by now, even among TV types, that the publication of a book "by" an active pol of almost any persuasion is non-newsworthy, since in almost all cases, such books themselves contain nothing worthwhile. Even here in the Republic of Mass Taste, they're commonly and rapidly remaindered. So, why give Demint the time of day? If he wants to shill for his book or his general line of crap, let him hit a street corner. Hell, covering the opening of a 7-11 would have imparted more information than this interview did.

Danp said...

If you don't have the time or space, don't print the quote. If the candidate repeats a misleading or false claim with frequency, it deserves a column or two. My bigger problem is with reporters or interviewers not asking candidates to explain their claims, and confront them with facts. What I don't want to see is reporters opine on whether they think the candidate's claim is fair. That's not fact checking.

c u n d gulag said...


We see WAY too much stenography and very little journalism.

I studied journalism for a couple of years in college back in the late 70′s, and what I see now is nothing what our professors taught us back then.

If I didn’t check, recheck, re-recheck, re-re-recheck, and check my facts again, then cross-check, I would have gotten an “F.”

Columnists are free to give their opinions.

Your job as a reporter is not to write down the opinions of the people you’re covering, and print them.

A f’in recording device can do THAT!

You’re supposed to search for the truth.

And if you’re too lazy, stupid, ignorant, compliant, or somehow or other complicit, then please find another line of work.
It may save the nation.

This has to go down in the "ANAL'S" of history, as one of the dumbest, most idiotice, fucking things I've ever read.
And it tells me everything I've suspected for a long, long time.

It's like asking, should we ask a police detective to look into all sides of the story of a murder, but to not look deeper into what he/she is told to find the truth and work to convict the guilty party, because why? It'll hurt the suspects fucking feelings?!?!?!?!
How would THAT work out, you fucking ASSHOLES!

Oy, oy, oy...
The fucking stupid - IT BURNS!!!