Political Animal


November 17, 2011 12:35 PM The truth is supposed to matter most

By Steve Benen

President Obama told business leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that U.S. policymakers have been “a little bit lazy” when it comes to attracting businesses to American soil. Republicans have taken this line and said the president called Americans “lazy.” They’re lying.

It’s been pleasantly surprised by the number of news outlets who’ve been willing to tell the public the truth. Usually, it’s up to blogs to set the record straight — in this case, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, Slate, Time, ABC, and National Journal have all said Republicans are taking Obama’s comments out of context. Good for them.

And then there’s Politico, which ran a 1,300 word piece that emphasized Republicans’ use of the out-of-context quote, while downplaying the relevant detail: Republicans are misleading the public.

A video clip of President Barack Obama calling America “a little bit lazy” is quickly becoming a focus of Republican campaigns, and GOP operatives say it will get plenty of play not only on the presidential battlefield but also in down-ballot congressional races.

Alec MacGillis explained the problem with this kind of coverage.

Not until the bottom of the first page does the article get into detail on whether the quote was taken out of context, and even then, it puts that counter into the mouths of Democratic operatives, as if it was beyond the scope or ability of the reporters to make that judgment themselves. And why would they want to knock it down, anyway? If they do, then there’s no story, and no reason to engage in all manner of speculation, as the article proceeds to do for two more pages.

Politico’s report is one of those stories that’s frustrating to read. The piece is 30 paragraphs long, not about Republicans deceiving people, but about how explosive the misleading attacks are. What matters, according to the cynical Politico article, is the way in which the GOP is exploiting an opportunity, not whether that exploitation is accurate, fair, or advancing the public debate.

That’s just not how quality political journalism is supposed to work.

In the meantime, the DNC has a good new video out, responding to the Republican attacks.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Brenna on November 17, 2011 12:38 PM:

    Politico is a garbage republican-loving media outlet.

  • Daniel Kim on November 17, 2011 12:43 PM:

    I can live with the idea that politicians are sometimes misleading. They may put some spin and some shine on the truth to bend it their way. That's part of the game. That being said, I don't know what to think about the way that the Republicans can simply lie about just about everything, and still have a following. It's like most people don't consider the implications of electing leaders who have no integrity at all.

  • kd bart on November 17, 2011 12:45 PM:

    Forget about it, Steve. It's Chinatown.

  • c u n d gulag on November 17, 2011 12:46 PM:

    No one has ever confused Politico with quality journalism.

    I had such high hopes for it when I first heard about it.

    When it finally became a reality, it took me only a couple of hours to figure out that it was a POS; a couple of days to confirm that; and, after the first week, I've never gone back except when linked there - and then very, very, rarely, since I don't want to increase their traffic.

    Our MSM had enough 'journalists' ready, willing, able, and eager, to fellate the Conservatives and their memes, we didn't need Politico.

    I see no reason to encourage them.

    Politico needs to go the way of 'Pajama's Media' - down the shitter - and the faster, the better.

  • SadOldVet on November 17, 2011 12:51 PM:

    That’s just not how quality political journalism is supposed to work.

    It is mighty presumptuous of Steve Benen to compare Politico to journalism, let alone quality journalism!

  • stormskies on November 17, 2011 1:02 PM:

    The editor in chief of politico, Jim Vanderhei, or something like that, in nothing more than a Repiglican operative who was given the money to start this piece of shit paper blog in the first place by the repiglican media corporations ..

    he is nothing more than a repiglican cum slut that has no soul .. his Faustian deal has created nothing more than a rancid abscess in it's place ...

  • robert on November 17, 2011 1:05 PM:

    Its all in the name: POLITICO. But it is annoying that they call themselves "reporters".

  • emjayay on November 17, 2011 1:05 PM:

    OK commercial, unfortunately ending with a very weak tagline.

  • TCinLA on November 17, 2011 1:07 PM:

    Someone is surprised that a far right disinformation project like "Politico" lies? They don't tell anything but Republican talking points about anything!! That's where their money comes from.

  • clarence swinney on November 17, 2011 1:17 PM:

    Since 1980, we borrowed 14,000B instead of taxing wealth as we did, 1945-1980,
    to pay our way. We borrowed to enrich the rich. Reagan 60% Tax Cut for 1% helped
    them to have a 281% after tax income growth 1980-2007. The middle class had 25% income growth actually a decline due to inflation.

    Today, (10% own 70% net wealth—80% own 15%)----(10% own 70% financial wealth—80% own 7%)----(10% get 50% individual Income-- 80% get 13%)

    A simple ratio analysis of those numbers yields these sickening numbers.

    Net Wealth—700:18
    Financial Wealth—700:7

    Those ratios are for a Third World Nation or a Dictatorship not a Democracy
    I ask only that one prove me wrong with facts numbers not opinion
    I would love to be wrong.. They hurt when I think of my kids and grand kids
    clarence swinney olduglymeanhonest political historian lifeaholicsofamerica
    cswinney2@triad.rr.com burlington nc

  • zandru on November 17, 2011 1:29 PM:

    Yet Another Pathetic Ad - Must be from The Democrats

    Come on! Where's the audio? And I don't mean that stupid pizzicato background drone. Where are the actual voices of the Republicans making boneheaded statements? What about some AUDIO commentary on the boneheadedness?

    Democrats, your "base" includes elderly and hard of seeing; the undereducated, people with a short attention span, people who are too busy to watch video and just hear the pluck pluck pluck coming from the other room.

    Every Y%&$#*% Dem ad, it seems, has these problems, and they're getting worse and worse. Are all of them using some staff member's brother in law to churn out this stuff?!

  • StringOnAStick on November 17, 2011 1:41 PM:

    Actually, I thought it was a very good ad considering that most people hit the mute button for commercials, especially for political commercials, but they keep watching the screen to see when the show they are watching comes back on.

  • Johnny Tee on November 17, 2011 2:13 PM:

    Clarence Swinny is either a bona fide idiot or a neo con hack that can't stand the fact that Cain just ain't able and Newt the poot is now their front runner...... BWAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Classic republican style (translates to no style at all, just lies upon more lies)

  • sherifffruitfly on November 17, 2011 3:01 PM:

    "The Truth Is Supposed To Matter Most"

    Uh..... Welcome to America. Clearly you're new here.

  • Richard W. Crews on November 17, 2011 4:28 PM:

    I agree with Zandru! This ad is a waste of time & money for the DSC. We need audio, whether it be the Repug's actual voices, or a friendly narrator. The Repugs use warm folksy talkers.
    Stringonastick sez people use the "mutr"; well, those people don't matter when thinking audio. Most people do not use the mute, but MANY walk or look away during commercials and still hear - some for the same reason sos thinks they watch silence - for when to get back more attentive/
    I listen to my TV way more than I watch. There are ads that I can almost quote, and have never looked up to see what they even are showing.

  • jhm on November 18, 2011 7:18 AM:

    With apologies for impertinence, does anyone know how to find the production credits for these vids? I'd like to know if the music was original or, as it seems to me, a variation of the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (perhaps related to the confidence fairy).

  • Observerinvancouver on November 18, 2011 4:22 PM:

    Does anyone outside the Village think Politico offers quality political journalism?

  • Sam Jack on November 19, 2011 5:10 AM:

    Why won't any of these outlets ever use the word LIE? I see lots of "inaccurate," which suggests that a mistake was made. But it's not as though the people that put the Perry ad together were ignorant of the true meaning of Obama's words. They go over these ads with a fine-tooth comb. What do you call it when people intentionally promulgate a falsehood or "inaccuracy"? A lie.

  • Lance on November 19, 2011 8:31 AM:

    This is funny because Republicans LOVE to call Americans Lazy. They do it all the time. Just consider Cain saying if you are unemployed or not rich it's YOUR fault.

    Isn't that calling Americans lazy?