Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 9, 2008

MAKING A STORY 'STICK'.... CNN had a segment this morning about Sarah Palin lying on her opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere, but instead of delving into the McCain campaign's apparent inability to tell the truth, CNN's John Roberts asked why Barack Obama is having trouble making the truth "stick."

It was an unusually inane question, which Paul Begala handled very, very well.

"Because the press won't do its job, John..... It is the media's job when a politician flat out lies like she's doing on this bridge to nowhere so call her on it. Or this matter of earmarks where she's attacking Barack Obama for having earmarks, when she was the mayor of little Wasilla, Alaska, 6,000 people, she hired a lobbyist who was connected to Jack Abramoff, who is a criminal, and they brought home $27 million in earmarks. She carried so much pork home she got trichinosis. But we in the media are letting her tell lies about her record."

At that point, Roberts did what CNN tends to do -- turn to a Republican to offer a competing side to the truth. In this case, Alex Castellanos said the media should be "a little gentle" with Sarah Palin's obviously false claims. "The amazing thing about Sarah Palin is when she became governor she actually stood up and said no" to federal pork, he said.

So, again, Begala tried to set the record straight.

"That's just not true. You know, John, the facts matter. There's lots of things that are debatable who is more qualified or less experienced or more this or more passionate, whatever. It is a fact that she campaigned and supported that bridge to nowhere. It is a fact that she hired lobbyists to get earmarks. It is a fact that as governor she lobbies for earmarks. Her state is essentially a welfare state taking money from the federal government."

Roberts wrapped up the segment, concluding, "We still have 56 days to talk about this back and forth."

But therein lies the point. The nation doesn't need 56 days of "back and forth." We don't need 56 seconds of "back and forth." There's an objective truth here, and CNN, as a neutral, independent news source, is supposed to tell viewers what the facts are.

But CNN can't do that, because reality has a well known liberal bias. If Roberts conceded that Begala was telling the truth about demonstrable facts, then he'd be "taking sides." For a media figure to acknowledge that a candidate for national office is lying shamelessly would be wholly unacceptable -- it would break with the "balance" between competing arguments.

The viewer at home hears one side, then the other. Who's right? That's not CNN's problem. If viewers wants to hear an argument, they can turn to CNN. If viewers wants to know which side of the argument is right, they can look elsewhere.

Which is precisely why candidates for national office feel comfortable lying shamelessly in the first place.

And which is why the candidate telling the truth can't get the story to "stick."

Steve Benen 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (81)

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Comments

Which is precisely why candidates for national office feel comfortable lying shamelessly in the first place.

No. No. No. Only republicans get to do this. And that's because they own the microphones.

Posted by: Danp on September 9, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

This whole election is turning back to again and again to the despicable coverage by the lazy and craven press.

Just this morning, while driving to work, I was listening to my local NPR station, and at the top of the news hour they had a report of the McCain/Palin campaign appearance to take place today in southeastern Pennsylvania. There was no similar reporting of an Obama or Biden campaign appearance(s) today.

One reason of many on why I don't contribute to NPR.

Posted by: John on September 9, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Nail : "Hammer, I'd like to introduce you to head."

Posted by: Geoff on September 9, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

How did Bush et al get the media to ask if Gore had trouble telling the truth, something they spun out of whole cloth?

Obama et al need to study how they did it and do the same thing. I think all they did was repeat the phrase over and over and over again -- from surrogates in the media and from staff to reporters. We can help by writing our local newspapers asking the same thing and citing the earmarks and bridge stories.

Posted by: democrat on September 9, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Its not a lie if the media doesn't call it a lie and bring you to account. You aren't telling the truth is the media is skeptical of your story. Democrats need to understand this. There is nothing new about it.

Posted by: rk on September 9, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

re: SJRM:

... except, of course, when one candidate's partisan is stating facts and the other one is denying them. then we get the 'current media' carrying water for the candidate who's lying. which is what's happening. got it, now?

Posted by: tw on September 9, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Props to Paul Begala.
He has been going great guns of late.

Posted by: koreyel on September 9, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama was to state that the world is round, CNN would find it necessary to bring in the Flat Earth Society for an opposing viewpoint.

Posted by: Speed on September 9, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Look, all I can figure is the majority of reporters and bobble heads know there are a lot more stories in the misery that will come with 12 straight years of Republican rule.

They want to add: "Provided non-stop coverage on the Food Riots of 09, Water Wars of 2010, The Downfall of America, and Welcome Our Chinese Overlords!" to their resumes.

Posted by: The Answer WAS Orange on September 9, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

The real problem here, as I see it, is that the people who are supposed to be journalists/reporters don't really want to do that job. They want to be pundits/analysts too, because that's the more "fun" gig. So that's why so-called journalists like John King frame these objective discussions as some sort of abstract discussions about politics and campaigning that makes it all sound much more complex and interesting than it is; instead of just doing their jobs and REPORTING the truth.

Posted by: Brien on September 9, 2008 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Absolutely on target!! I stopped watching all corporate military industrial media outlets ever since the run up to and color commentary during the invasion of Iraq.

It was at this point that I realized 'balance' means giving pathological liars equal time to spout off falsehoods without calling them on the lies. I don't care if it's a 'liberal' or a 'conservative' when ANYONE demonstrably lies to make a point any true journalist should call them on it. My experience is that right-wing conservatives (e.g. Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Faux News, Sarah Palin, most political pundits) lie to a much greater extent.

Another great example is the study that showed that although 98%+ of academic literature agrees that man-made fossil fuel consumption is a contributing factor to increased CO2 levels and climate change trends - more than 50% of corporate media coverage is dedicated to the 2% that thinks otherwise.

I saw an interview with Cronkite some years back where he said journalism is dead because by its nature it has a 'liberal' bias - because it challenges the status quo by pointing out failures or corruption in the existing systems. Also, presenting and considering all sides of an argument is as 'liberal' as our founding fathers were. That's probably why they emphasized the freedom of the press!

The way I deal with it is to not watch or subscribe to any corporate for profit media outlets. They are the single biggest reason GW was selected and that McCain/Palin will continue to get kid-gloves treatment.

Posted by: Brian on September 9, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Paul Begala's old Crossfire show is the prototype for "he said she said" politics that promotes heat over light. I don't give him any props. I am just saddened that John Roberts is completely incapable of basic journalism. That's the best news team in the business for you.

Notice that Roberts had Begala and Castellanos all ready for a "he said, he said" fight.

Roberts and CNN must hate the truth and America.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Why do they only worry about the facts when the facts help Democrats? I've never seen John Roberts shy away from using Republican talking points in place of facts. I've seen him brag about how close he is to the White House staff. I've seen him question Dems with obvious disdain.

I think the time has long past where anyone could call him an "independent" journalist and just admit the fact that he's a republican tool.

Posted by: atlliberal on September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Roberts had no problem what so ever making unequivocally declaritive statements about the character of McCain or Romney. But when it comes to pointing out blatant lies and falsehoods not so much

http://mediamatters.org/items/200807030003

http://mediamatters.org/items/200706190002

Posted by: on September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Roberts had no problem what so ever making unequivocally declaritive statements about the character of McCain or Romney. But when it comes to pointing out blatant lies and falsehoods not so much

http://mediamatters.org/items/200807030003

http://mediamatters.org/items/200706190002

Posted by: lib4 on September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Roberts had no problem what so ever making unequivocally declaritive statements about the character of McCain or Romney. But when it comes to pointing out blatant lies and falsehoods not so much

http://mediamatters.org/items/200807030003

http://mediamatters.org/items/200706190002

Posted by: lib4 on September 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

A well argued point, Steve. That old CNN program "Crossfire" is long gone, but the crossfire mentality took over the entire network -- and American journalism in general. That was the genius of Karl Rove: in a he said/she said world, you can tell any lie you want -- and get away with it simply by repeating it longer than any contrary argument.

The only answer is for Democrats to be as repetitive and relentless in their political discourse as the Republicans.

Obama, Biden, the Clintons, and all other Democrats who speak in public have got to start using the word "lie" -- and use it over and over again.

Posted by: CMcC on September 9, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

That is one thing I absolutely hate about current media, it pretty much consists of putting up one candidate's partisan liar against the other, in which case we get two people arguing that 2+2 equals either 3 or 5.

Actually, in this case, we have one side saying 2+2=4, while the other side says 2+2=70. And CNN just goes, "we'll discuss this for the next 56 days".

Posted by: Darius on September 9, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

So to whom at CNN can we direct a flood of e-mails asking them to do their goddam jobs as journalists? Not that they'll pay attention, of course, but it might be a start.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on September 9, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

... in which case we get two people arguing that 2+2 equals either 3 or 5.

Or, in this case, one person saying 2+2=4, and the other person saying that it doesn't matter what 2+2 equals.

Or, put another way, you're falling for the exact same "balance" scam Steve points out, right after he points it out.

Far too many gullible people in this country fall for this. When one side says "2+2=5", people assume that the opposing side must be making the converse, equally false argument (ie, "2+2=3").

I know that situations in which one person is telling the truth and another person is lying must just confuse the hell out of some people, but those people need to grow the fuck up. Seriously.

Posted by: DH Walker on September 9, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "There's an objective truth here, and CNN, as a neutral, independent news source, is supposed to tell viewers what the facts are."

Good grief. With all due respect, are you stupid?

CNN is NOT neutral.

CNN is NOT independent.

CNN, like the rest of America's mass media, is owned and controlled by giant corporations who are propagandizing the American people in support of their own interests and agenda.

There is NOTHING remotely "neutral" or "independent" about the mass media in America. The mass media in America is a FOR-PROFIT ENTERPRISE whose purpose is not to "tell viewers what the facts are" but to tell viewers whatever will maximize profits for its owners.

You probably expect Ford to run ads that impartially and objectively compare the performance, reliability, efficiency and economy of its cars with those from Toyota, don't you?

The corporate-owned mass media is doing EXACTLY what it did in 2000 and 2004: working hand in hand with the Republican Party and the openly partisan right-wing media to build up the Republican candidate and tear down the Democratic candidate to make the election close enough for the Republicans to steal it with voter disenfranchisement and fraud.

And clueless "liberal" pundits sit around scratching their heads mumbling "Duh, what's going on? Why isn't the media being fair?"

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't CNN present the weather with two competing weathermen who debate what the weather might do and then argue over who "lied" the previous day. The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind and the truth just doesn't stick sometimes, just ask John Roberts.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 9, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

About every TV news report featuring the bridge always preface any questions about it with, "Democrats are saying". If the Democrats were not saying, would the press be on this story? What happened to investigative journalism and the press as adversary?

Posted by: lou on September 9, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"I believe Gov. Palin and her running mate, McCain, have trouble telling the truth".

Repeat this over and over and over, ad infinitum.

...and add "some people didn't realize that the term 'welfare state' referred to Palin's Alaska."

Posted by: klevenstein on September 9, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

NY Times reported that Palin killed the bridge in September of 2007.

Show me the money.

Posted by: koreyel on September 9, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

So to whom at CNN can we direct a flood of e-mails...?

I'd go over their heads to the advertisers. If the advertisers are hearing from people who are outraged and taking their business to the competition, things will change.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on September 9, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent article re journalists:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0910/p09s01-coop.html
DON'T BE SWEPT AWAY BY HYPE IN THE PALIN CAMPAIGN
The media's job is to unearth facts, not repeat myths.
"1. The media should redouble efforts to unearth facts and spend far less time on speculation and titillation.

"2. The media need to reexamine the meaning of journalistic objectivity. It is not to give equal weight and space to each side of an issue.

"Until the news media turn both tougher and fairer, provides contextual truth and not just balance, political operatives will hold the upper hand. And the public will move through election cycles like motorists peering into a thick fog."

The author of this article, Jerry Lanson, is a journalism teacher. Go read the whole thing.

Posted by: Hannah on September 9, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

That is one thing I absolutely hate about current media, it pretty much consists of putting up one candidate's partisan liar against the other

But Begala wasn't lying -- McCain and Palin were, are and continue to do. This isn't just Republicans repeating their fantasy that cutting taxes raises revenue, that Saddam posed a threat to the US or that Bush completed his service obligations. There is objective reality here, and CNN is doing everything they can to obscure the fact, since -- as usual -- reality has a liberal bias.

Posted by: Gregory on September 9, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, it's even worse than we thought: Chris Wallace of FOX News has been the leader in hard-hitting questions on this issue and McCain's platform. His interview last Sunday with McCain and Rick Davis was devastating if you read the transcripts.

Posted by: kiweagle on September 9, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed as SJRSM illustrates, the whole purpose of the
Mainstream Media outlets is to captivate not inform. By presenting two opposing views without any factual reference, the impression of impartiality overrides any and all substantive information that could possibly be gleaned. Viewers are left to parse it out on their own which is largely done at the visceral level. If they decide that they better identify with the person pushing the lies, then those lies get legitimacy precisely by the fact that the folks airing these reports perform no due diligence nor fact checking against these claims. CNN is genuinely egregiousl when it comes to this type of infotainment, especially in the Anderson Cooper era. Begala put in a solid effort though.

Posted by: Bedtime for Democracy on September 9, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Following up on my last post, I've always thought it would be a worthwhile project for some person or group of people to start a clearing house for info about media advertisers, for the purpose of putting pressure on them. Just watch CNN for two hours and tell us who's advertising. Then others can update with what happens when they call CNN.

This could be a good topic for a blog or wiki. I'm not going to undertake it, though, because I'm the classic INFP who starts way too many projects and finishes too few.

Posted by: EOC on September 9, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell you blockhead. Those reports say that Palin killed the bridge AFTER the Feds cut the funding. AFTER. When she had to find money in the state budget herself to pay for it.

You're LYING. You're LYING about her record just like she is. You ugly, ugly little LIAR.

How many McCain Points are you earning by posting your LIES?

Posted by: NonyNony on September 9, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

CNN, as a neutral, independent news source...

CNN is owned by Time-Warner. The chairman of Time-Warner is Richard D. Parsons, who contributes the maximum allowable to the Republican Party -- as do the majority of other top executives at T-W.

Freedom of the Press = those who own the presses can do what they want. And what they want is to make sure their financial interests are being served.

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 9, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, in order to make the issue "stick," it has to become part of a "complex question," as in "have you stopped beating your wife?" or "does your mother know you're gay?"

Stop saying "they're lying" and make it a part of a broader narrative. "They're lying because, as McCain's own campaign manager said, they're not going to run on the issues." etc.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 9, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Orwell is like the Republican version of getting "Rick-rolled." Just out of curiosity I checked out the USAT link.

All it says is that, after Congress took away the mandate for that particular bridge, Palin allocated the money to other projects. She didn't tell Congress, "Thanks but no thanks," not remotely. She just found other places to spend the allocated money once Congress gave her the freedom to do so.

I'd rather he just post links to YouTubes of Rick Astley.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on September 9, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

How many McCain Points are you earning by posting your LIES?

I'd bet good money that "Orwell" actually works for the McCain campaign. No normal human being could lie so sleazily, non-stop constantly without the slightest trace of shame or sense of decency.

Posted by: DH Walker on September 9, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

This country is so f*cked.

For what has transpired over the last eight years, the Republican party should be only slightly more popular than the plague, and yet McCain now holds a 5-6 point lead over Obama in a race where a Republican shouldn't even be within 10 points. But when the choice is between another 8 years of Bush/Republican corruption, incompetence, and war or voting for a black guy... well, maybe national health care, the constitution and the rule of law don't really matter that much after all.

Plus Sarah Palin is SUPER-DUPER-Jesus-y (never mind the dishonesty and incompetence).

Just plain f*cked.

Posted by: Augustus on September 9, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Orwell, what caliber of rifle was she shooting when she killed that bridge? Are bridges even in season during September in Alaska?

What do you mean, "more money for ya?" Our money went to Alaska and never came back.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on September 9, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, It's a grand scale attempt at: "Dumbing Down and Numbing Up" that is going on, and it's truly shocking and depressing to witness.

I would have answered by saying that.

I would have said that maybe the truth doesn't stick because the lie sells better at first blush, it's more fun, more compelling and initially lulls people into a trance like-state wherein they can forget that we live in perilous times and we are in dire need a thoughtful, diplomatic leader to help pull us out of the knee deep doo-doo we're in.

As humans, we are seduced by this: We all want to rally around an image of "Strength and Prosperity"--even if there is no Wizard behind the Curtain, even if the Emperor is truly wearing No Clothes. We so want to believe in the Wizard, in the gloriously adorned Emperor.

I'm also beginning to think that 24hr. News Coverage and too many blogs don't help--and may indeed be doing harm--we lose site of the real issues and just start to invent stuff-- or keep harping on tidbits that are unbelievably irrelevant-- just to fill up the incredible amount of air/computer space.

Posted by: on September 9, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, Alex Castellanos said the media should be "a little gentle" with Sarah Palin's obviously false claims.

After all, she's only going to be an infirm heartbeat away from the presidency so what's a little lying? "Country first!" my ass.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on September 9, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell, you monumental idiot - I'm with koreyel

Show me the money! Or STFU

koreyel - can I steal shamelessly on that question on other boards when these maroons keep endlessly repeating this lie?

Posted by: Lori on September 9, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"There you go again....." I think the Dems need to study the ole Gipper's playbook.... in fact, I think you might see some of that come out in the debates (Biden?). Speaking of which, I think this campaign is shaping up like 1980. Check out wikpedia on its description... believe it or not Carter was UP by a few points two days before the first and only debate.... and then BOOM, everything went to Reagan...big landslide.. I think most people are tired of the Reps, and are looking for a reason to jump ship... if that ship can remotely sail... they are ON IT.

Posted by: mkrrpc on September 9, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Orwell is nothing but a REPIGLICAN HEMMROID .. he just realized this and ran out and bought a big tube of Preparation H ..... applied to what he thought was his head .. PROBLEM SOLVED

Posted by: stormskies on September 9, 2008 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The point is absolutely what happened to the money, not the bridge.

Palin and AK TOOK THE MONEY. If she were really interested in reform, she would've returned it, because it was unnecessary.

It's pretty staggering when you think about the hypocrisy here. To recount, just from the USA Today article:
1) The bridge cost $398 Million.
2) Young and Stevens put in $452M of earmarks.
3) Congress removed the stipulation that the money had to be spent on the bridge, but gave them the money anyway.

So what did we taxpayers get for our money in Alaska? We didn't get a bridge. So what did we get? Lots and lots of unnecessary transportation projects? I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING?

Posted by: Jake on September 9, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Look, someone should really look into where all the money actually went. What do you think the odds are that there's plenty of wasteful spending in there?

Posted by: Jake on September 9, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone who knows more about the history of American journalism than I do trace some of the history of this current "objectivity"? Is there a good book about it? It strikes me that in many other countries, media are openly biased, and don't make the same distinctions between news and commentary as we do. In England, if you want some balance, you can read both the Guardian and the Telegraph. Neither one pretends to impartiality, so both feel free to investigate facts rather than just let spinmeisters drone on and on.

What's bothersome in this country is that newspapers, for instance, with vigorous op-eds, columnists, and editorial pages, just don't do any work at all in fact-checking or news-gathering. So their commentary ends up being spun spin.

Posted by: Tim Morris on September 9, 2008 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, Bob Somerby at the "The Daily Howler" gives some pointers as to why Republicans get away with this. The media has a narrative with characterization that endows Republican conservatives (particularly McCain), as the straight talking, real men (or in Palin's case real women) types who may not be the brightest lights on the tree, but with "sound" instincts, in contrast to the those elitist, dissembling Democrats. They are the "truth tellers" and "strong" folks in the narrative. So the media just can't process a story like this into their narratives and will only deal with it in an "he said, he said" context, which is furthered because tools like Castellanos have no problem repeating the misrepresentations. Believe me, the first mistatement, bend of the truth by Obama will be called that by Roberts and company and Begala will simply won't be the tool like Castellanos and steadfastly repeat a half-truth.

By the way the big lie here with Palin is her assertion, made in her first speech, that she "told Congress no" regarding the bridge to nowhere, when she did no such thing, the Congress having already killed it in 2006 before she became Governor. But this is getting lost in the quibbles about the stupid bridge project itself, which of course is the intent of the Republican operatives. Meanwhile the big lie goes zinging along into people's brain where it becomes somehing people just know is true, "that Palin said no to (the Democrat) Congress on a big pork project."

This is not a directed conspiracy by the corporate suits, although after a 30 year repetition of the meme of "liberal media bias" the corporate suits are far more sensitive to that charge then to the far more recent charge of bias by neglect we liberals level at them. Our modern media decadence (just compare the coverage of Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan or the coverage even late eighties of the S&L scandal and the coverage now of the far greater story of the housing bust and the reduction of our country to bananna republic status with People's Bank of China filling the IMF role) is the result of a continuing degradation where inanity and celebrity have been awarded and substance was punished and cut. All of the MSM media is now being run for entertainment purposes featuring multi-millionaires or millionaire wannabes who have no empathy for those losing jobs, homes, or their children in foreign wars since they are no longer directly touched, or even really interested in such things as is noted by both bedtime for Democracy and Somerby. See www.dailyhowler.com.

Posted by: rickstersherpa on September 9, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

The media's refusal or inability to act as referee of the discussion requires more than liberals frothing with each other. All liberal "talking heads" should be schooled by the likes of Paul Begala, Sandy Lakoff and Drew Weston in how to respond when a John Roberts airhead lets something go. And we liberals should be howling at CNN, ABC (watch the softball Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah P. this weekend), CBS and NBC when they commit this kind of bias. Complaints can be emailed to them at their websites.

Posted by: keith on September 9, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

John Roberts used to be a two bit news reader with crooked teeth on Channel 4 CBS in Miami during the 80's and 90's Now he's a two bit news reader on CNN. No different

Posted by: John R on September 9, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

While I agree with you that the notion of fair and balanced in the news these days is that each side of anything is represented, whatever the facts, and the political commentators only talk about horse race figures, and never content.

However.

I don't really believe that if things were reversed, and Obama's pick for vp had all of this lying and scandal attached, that this supposed "fair and balanced" approach would spring into action. Because ultimately, I think the approach is meant to put the Republicans on top. And if it fails to do that, then they'll all just do something like running Dean's scream...whatever it takes to cast doubt on the Democrats. IT's kind of like judges who say they're about states' rights ---- they never really are, you know. They're about a particular partisan position. And those few judges that actually try to hold true to the philosophy of judgment that they espouse --- they're regarded in the history books as puzzling and unpredictable....

Posted by: catherineD on September 9, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Augustus -- don't you know that McCain isn't part of the Republican Party? Well, at least not the Bush Republican Party. He and Palin are part of the NEW Republican Party, the one that wants to change Washington. And if you believe that, I have a bridge to nowhere to sell you.

Posted by: Tiffany on September 9, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

This is the same John Roberts that used to be an MTV VeeJay, right?

Why is that not surprising. A dim bulb, who's just bright enough to know who his corporate masters are and how to placate them.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on September 9, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

"...Which is precisely why Republican candidates for national office feel comfortable lying shamelessly in the first place."

Fixed it for you.

Posted by: s9 on September 9, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have been extremely successful at cowing the mainstream media into presenting "both sides" of every issue - as if there were two points of view and they were both equally valid. The only problem is that one is truth and the other is either nonsensical or a bald-faced lie. Of course, the "low information" voters can't tell which is which, and so they often wrongfully assume the one that meshes the best with their conception of the world is somehow - "the truth".

The conservative's intellectual forebear is, of course, Lucius Pontius Pilate, who asked "what is truth"? when Christ told Pilate "I am the truth". Fortunately, conservatives are likely going to end up in the same place as Pilate.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 9, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Tim Morris: Is there a good book about it?

A bit dated, but still the best IMHO is Edwin Bayley's Joe McCarthy and the Press. While McCarthy is ancient history, the lessons are not.

One of the issues Baley addresses is the press "objectivity" which allowed McCarthy a platform he never should have been given, without which he would have remained a backwater hack unable to inflict such enormous damage.

Great writing and a riveting story; the lessons are eminently relevant today.

Posted by: has407 on September 9, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why would the Palin/McCain ticket keep raising this Bridge to Nowhere issue? Do they think they can keep the lie going if they repeat it enough? I doubt it. Most successful trial lawyers know not to tell the jury something in opening argument that will not be supported by the evidence presented at trial so that credibility will not be lost when it comes time for closing arguments. However, any loss in credibility the VP candidate may suffer will be worth it if earmarks become a more important issue to voters (as opposed to issues such as the ecomony or Iraq where Obama is stronger). Earmarks were a non-issue a week ago. Not only is the media now talking about this McCain strongpoint issue, the Obama campaign is spending money on ads talking about earmarks making earmarks more of an issue. The Obama campaign should resist the bait.

Posted by: Betterway on September 9, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "... congress didn't cut the funding, they removed the earmark directing it to the bridge. She then redirected it to better purposes."

SJRSM, please produce ONE documented example of Sarah Palin telling Congress "thanks but no thanks" for the funding earmarked for the bridge, or of Sarah Palin telling Congress "thanks but no thanks" for the bridge itself (which is, precisely, what she says she did) before Congress removed the earmark. ONE single documented example.

You can't produce one. Because Sarah Palin never did that. Sarah Palin is a liar.

And you know she's a liar, but you don't care, if telling brazen, sickening, preposterous lies is what it takes to keep right-wing extremist white collar crooks in control of the government.

Like the Rove-Palin campaign, you've got nothing but bullshit. Maybe bullshit will win. And won't you be proud.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK
Can anyone who knows more about the history of American journalism than I do trace some of the history of this current "objectivity"?

--Tim Morris

I second has407's suggestion on Edwin Bayley's book. Also check out Bill Moyer's program on the media in the run-up to the Iraq war.

That being typed -- the media has NEVER been about truth, accuracy and being the government watchdog. Thomas Jefferson used the media to slander John Adams more than two centuries ago, and Hearst used his media empire to increase his profits during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Mix in deregulation, with the abolition of the Fairness Doctrine, and sprinkle in no one believing anymore that the airwaves belong to the public, and you get Fox News et al -- outlets that have as their primary drivers access to newsmakers, ratings and profits.

Any semblance of truth and reality is cast aside if any of those three are threatened, often in the guise of "balance."

In other words, the cases in which the media did its job as we think is should -- Murrow, Cronkite, VietNam-ear Rather -- are actually the exceptions to the rule.

It's sad, really ...

Posted by: Mark D on September 9, 2008 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "I live under the pork-skinned umbrella of John Murtha, All Time Master Of Pork, and in the vicinity of Bud Shuster, no amateur and steering $$$ to voters either."

If you want to debate whether Sarah Palin, as a small-town mayor or a small-state governor, was as successful as those guys in lobbying the federal government for pork, that's a legitimate debate to have. I'd say she has a shot in that competition. After all, at least three specific earmarks that Sarah Palin was directly responsible for obtaining were singled out by Senator John McCain as being especially egregious.

But to claim that Sarah Palin is or ever was opposed to pork, when she in fact aggressively and successfully pursued pork, is not legitimate. It is a lie.

But we already know that you are all in favor of lying, if that's what it takes to keep right-wing extremist white collar crooks in charge of the government.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't watched CNN in a very long time, for obvious reasons.

I suggest that you take a few moment and go to the CNN website and let John Roberts know in a nice way how he 'should' do his job instead of doing the lame 'balance' thing.

I copied and pasted the link to this particular article. As you know, Roberts won't be able to resist reading about himself. He may even take the time to give Steve Benen a piece of his mind, about Steve not understanding how Washington works.

Steve DOES know, because he's a TV personality now as well. (Rachel Maddow Show) :)

The more people that send him a message, the better it is. Just follow the link and scroll down to where Robert's link is.

Posted by: bruno on September 9, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel - can I steal shamelessly on that question on other boards when these maroons keep endlessly repeating this lie?

Go. For. It.

Posted by: koreyel on September 9, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM wrote: "And I never said she said, 'Thanks but no thanks.' or anything similar."

Sarah Palin has publicly said "I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

That's a lie. Sarah Palin has told that lie, in public speeches, 23 times so far.

I'm not talking about some blogger spreading rumors.

I'm talking about Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's nominee for Vice President, campaigning for office, making public speeches, and telling brazen, sickening, preposterous lies to the American people. Again, and again, and again.

And as far as I can tell, you think that's just great.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 9, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

They removed the language from the $$$ directing it to the bridge. Alaska chose to spend those $$$ on something other than the bridge.

...because it didn't want to pony up the other $329 mil it would take to build the bridge, the part Congress wouldn't give Alaska. You keep conveniently forgetting that part, as well as Palin's comment in her 2007 press release announcing the end of the project: "It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island."

Read her lipstick again: Congress--not Palin--had little interest in completing this project.

She wasn't sitting around hoping Congress would release the earmark she'd already received so she could spend it more responsibly, as you attempt to imply. She was unhappy that Congress wouldn't fork over the full pork for this ridiculous project that she'd previously vowed not to let "spinmeisters" paint as "something negative."

Posted by: shortstop on September 9, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Ezra Klein has two great posts about media coverage:
"Was the Media Too Hard on Palin?" and "Why the Press Can't Report the Campaign".

Both posts provide great analysis of the meta narrative that the traditional media creates, even without acknowledging that they create it.

Posted by: nj progressive on September 9, 2008 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Alaskan Democrats credit Palin with killing the bridge. She may have not wanted to but economics demanded it. That is called making an executive decision.

Funny, I thought it was called a "flip-flop"

Alaska kept the federal money (earmark). She said "thanks, but no thanks" to the bridge and then spent the federal earmark on other projects.
I guess that's good "economics", but it's hardly the anti-pork, anti-earmark position she is trying to protray.

You might want to check out this editorial in the Wall Street Journal (notorius left-wing rag).

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122090791901411709.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


Posted by: Stephen on September 9, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

"higher taxes are good for the economy," but "higher taxes are not good for the economy?"

McCain voted against Bush's tax cuts, now (during an election) he thinks they should be permanent.

"No offshore drilling," but "Yes to offshore drilling?"

McCain voted for the moratorium on of-shore drilling (twice). Now, he supports it.


Posted by: Stephen on September 9, 2008 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

If any of you ever wondered why C-SPAN isn't very popular as a choice for people to watch at night; the fact it's boring and takes too long to get to the point.

That's why people tune in for CNN, FOX, or any other so called News channel. It's all prepared in bite sized pieces, conveniently tucked in between the commercials.

Who wants to listen to an entire speech, uninterrupted on C-SPAN? There are no bathroom breaks, and sometimes they keep droning on and on about silly stuff.

"Survivor" or "American Idol" anyone? Now those are shows that talk to the gut and the emotions of viewers, not unlike CNN and FOX.

It's naive to assume that viewers are interested in policy debates. Sure they want to hear the truth, as long as it is doesn't take too much time. Most people are only interested in the "Cliff notes version" of events and positions, and as mentioned by other posters, try to fit it in with their pre-conceived beliefs.

Look at how much effort it takes for secularanimist to try 'debating' with SJRSM It doesn't matter to SJRSM. He has a few articles that he can selectively quote from. In his mind he's absolutely sharing the truth. It doesn't matter that other evidence exists showing Palin's true actions.

Posted by: on September 9, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

If the press had any liberal leanings and acted like a Democratic controlled news outlet, maybe they would come up with these "truthiness" questions:

To McCain:

"Some say you are no longer a "maverick" that goes against your own party, but instead agree with Bush and the Republicans 90%+ of the time, how do you respond?"

"Some say you talk about your time as a POW, which was 40 years ago, as a response to any issue, how do you respond?"

"Some say Palin is completely unqualified to be in office much less a heartbeat from President of the US, how do you respond?"

Posted by: Elsie on September 9, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, has407 and Mark D. I will check out Bayley's Joe McCarthy and the Press.

Posted by: Tim Morris on September 9, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Let's go to the videotape, Palin "Oct. 29, 2006" says she supports the Bridge to Nowhere:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ttqv_0y0R4

Begala:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm7icN-GrDA&feature=user

Posted by: George on September 9, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

SJRSM -- Ok, Palin's record demonstrates she's a porker, as are many. Today, Palin clearly presents herself as an anti-pork reformer. There is an clear difference between the reality of her record and its current presentation. No matter how subtly it may be couched, or how fine you choose to dice the rhetoric, the current presentation is clearly disingenuous. Or to be more blunt, a lie.

Posted by: has407 on September 9, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, then I got to go (yeah! screams the audience)

Um, despite (or beause of) the desperate bids for attention all day long, I think you might be overestimating the degree of focus or care that is expended on you....

Posted by: Stefan on September 9, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

But what you are conveniently forgetting in the spittle-flecked interest OF OHMYGOD SHE LIED BURN IN HELL is that the money was indeed sent to Alaska, including enough to build the bridge. The money went to Alaska.

So are you a liar for your statement above or just mistaken?

This would be a really good time to point out how your pride always goes before your fall, but then, when aren't you falling, Jingo? Read the governor's press release. Do the math. In case three-digit numbers present too much of a challenge for you, here's an excerpt from the Guv herself:

“Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer,” said Governor Palin. “Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island,” Governor Palin added. “Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

The $228 million earmark, appalling as it was, was not enough to pay for the bridge. Rather than pay for the remainder with state funds, she shut down the project, moaning at that mean old public's lack of understanding of the very special problems of southeastern Alaskan towns of 50 people.

Posted by: shortstop on September 9, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I will confess to not paying attention to my math myself today. (Watch, Mike--this is what grownups do when they need to back off from or partially rescind a statement. It's not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of honesty.)

Could some of y'all help me understand where this "$329 million short" statement of Palin's in her press release is coming from? How much of the original $228 million earmark did she actually get, and was all of it for the bridge? And was the original cost of the bridge actually $398 million? Thanking you in advance.

Posted by: shortstop on September 9, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Shorstop -- The original Ketchikan earmark was ~$230M, and AK got all of it; it was part of a larger earmark. It was intended to cover much, but not all, the cost of the bridge. (But bet your ass if Stevens/Young hadn't cratered, the vast majority of the remaining cost would have be earmarked.)

After being unearmark'd the state took about half the money and spent it on other projects; the remaining money was held, but some of that money was spent on related projects (not for the bridge itself). AK then had at most ~$100M to put towards the bridge, the cost which had now risen to over $400M.

That left a shortfall of somewhere North of $300M, and it was clear Stevens/Young (aka "congress") wouldn't make up the difference. Palin clearly decided that as long as someone else was paying for it (oink oink), it was a good idea, but if it had to come out of AK's pocket, she had more important priorities.

Posted by: has407 on September 9, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. Just to be clear, when AK got the money, it wasn't earmarked, but they got all of the money that was originally earmarked. That was from Stevens "I'll resign if you take it away" speech in response to calls to divert the money to Katrina relief efforts.

Posted by: has407 on September 9, 2008 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: That's a lie. Sarah Palin has told that lie, in public speeches, 23 times so far.

make that 24....

in lancaster, pa....

Posted by: mr. irony on September 9, 2008 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

.
"I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress." - Sarah Palin 8/29/08

how'd that go?

Alaska 1st in pork spending - USA Today 3/22/08

mission accomplished...sarah...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 9, 2008 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, I see. Thanks much for the clarification, has407.

Posted by: shortstop on September 9, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

"Fair and Balanced" isn't quite the same as truth telling much less investigative journalism.

What passes for news these days in nuanced and framed with omissions and selective bits & pieces. And then there is out & out lieing too.

Posted by: GloryB on September 10, 2008 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

Palin is Bush in a skirt.

Posted by: Scandal Jackson on September 10, 2008 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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