Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Where's the "Truth Squad" When You Need It?

In the last election cycle, if Al Gore misspoke -- such as when he said he met with the Federal Emergency Management chair during a particular disaster, when in fact he'd met with the #2 at FEMA -- the GOP jumped all over it.

And when Gore didn't misspeak, the GOP was quick to invent a lie to fit the script of GORE THE LIAR. That's how Republican-driven lies about Gore -- that he said he "invented the Internet," and so on -- became part of the news cycle.

The media loves to expose a good lie. In New York, the local CBS television station has long run a popular "Shame on You" segment, and no doubt similar "gotcha" journalistic exploits can be found nationwide.

So why is it that when the president, on the campaign trail, outright lies to his audience, the press isn't jumping over themselves to expose it? Where's Lisa Myers' "Truth Squad" when you need it? Where's Geraldo Rivera (oh yeah, he's at Fox News ...)

Is it hyperbole to call the president a liar? I try to be careful. It's easy to take every mis-statement, every half-truth or distortion or spin made without context, and proclaim it a lie. But that in itself is liberal spin, and I think the non-converted become numb to such cries. And let's face it, Air America has 17 stations; conservatives have 1,308, a major news network and a wire service. Liberals who want to outspin the conservatives face a huge uphill battle.

But I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the president says this, while that is the actual fact. So you can understand my anger when the president, in his weekly radio address, told listeners that the "economy is gaining strength," when in fact the gross domestic product grew by 3% in the second quarter, below the 4.5% growth in the first quarter and the weakest growth since the second quarter of 2003.

Was the economy strong? For three quarters, there was excellent growth in the GDP. But just as the conservatives were jumping up and down last October after a fabulous third quarter -- the first tangible sign that the economy was, to quote the president, "turning the corner" -- the same conservatives should down be upset by the just-reported mediocre growth. If you can state success after one set of numbers (after several poor numbers), then the logic says you should also state failure after one set of numbers (after three excellent numbers). But the conservatives won't do that, and President Bush won't, either.

In Ohio on Saturday, President Bush pledged "we will not overspend your money." This is a farce. The projected fiscal year 2004 deficit is $445 billion, about 20% higher than the record FY 2003 deficit. The FY 2004 deficit is also significantly higher than the $307 billion projected deficit -- but then again, that projection suggested the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be free. You might recall Bush came into office with a surplus.

Also on the campaign trail, Bush touted how the economy he is stewarding has created jobs in "high-growth, high-paying industries." But that's a pipe dream. Any nonpartisan report will tell you that low-paying jobs are being created at a faster rate than high-paying jobs. And a new government report said that 57% of workers who were laid off are being paid less at their new jobs than at their old ones. How much less? A report earlier this year, touted during the New Hampshire primary season, found workers in the Granite State were being paid 35% less, and with fewer health benefits, at the jobs they found after being laid off.

Bush saying that unemployment has "turned the corner" is also untrue. Unemployment has been stuck at 5.6% for several months, and the percentage of adults employed now is 2.1 percentage points lower than when Bush took office.

Now, these are facts. The government is aware of these statistics. There are, no doubt, GAO reports available. But does the average Bush supporter or Bush rally attendee know as much? Not if they are listening to Bush.

Which brings us back to our media. Hello? Where are you? The statistics get reported, of course. But the campaign coverage is handled by different reporters -- and too often these reports take the form of press releases. Reporters take great notes on what the President said and how many people were in attendance and whether it was sunny or rainy, but after that, a gaping hole appears that leaves the reader uninformed.

And while Lisa Myers is all too happy to sick her "Truth Squad" on those who attack the adminstration, she does not turn around and say "Shame on You" when the president lies to his supporters. But then again, hardly anyone in the media does.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it hyperbole to call John Kerry a liar? I try to be careful. It's easy to take every mis-statement, every half-truth or distortion or spin made without context, and proclaim it a lie. But that in itself is conservative spin, and I think the non-converted become numb to such cries. And let's face it, liberals have all three broadcasting networks, CNN, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, most other major newspapers and Air America, while the conseratives have one cable station and talk-radio hosts. Conservatives who want to outspin the liberals face a huge uphill battle.

But I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Kerry says this, while that is the actual fact. So you can understand my anger when Kerry, in his speech accepting the nomination, told the audience: "I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to. That is the standard of our nation."

It is? Who, but John Kerry, could look back across the past 200 years and insist that the United States had never gone to war except when it "had to"?
The United States has sent forces into combat dozens of times over the past century and a half, and only twice, in World War II and in Afghanistan, has it arguably done so because it "had to."

It certainly did not "have to" go to war against Spain in 1898 (or Mexico in 1846.) It did not "have to" send the Marines to Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Nicaragua in the first three decades of the 20th century, nor fight a lengthy war against insurgents in the Philippines. The necessity of Woodrow Wilson's intervention in World War I remains a hot topic for debate among historians.

And what about the war Kerry himself fought in? Kerry cannot believe the Vietnam War was part of his alleged "time-honored tradition," or he would not have thrown his ribbons away.

But America's other Cold War interventions in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are also problematic. Most opponents of the Vietnam War, like Kerry, believed it was symptomatic of a larger failure of U.S. foreign policy stemming from what Jimmy Carter memorably called Americans' "inordinate fear of communism."

The other Cold War interventions were premised on the same "misguided" anti-communism and the concomitant democratic idealism, that pulled Kerry's hero, John F. Kennedy, into Vietnam. The United States, by this reckoning, did not "have to" go to war in Korea in 1950. Nor could a post-Vietnam Kerry have considered Lyndon Johnson's 1965 intervention in the Dominican Republic necessary. Or has Kerry now retroactively accepted the Cold War justification for these interventions that he once rejected?

Then there were the wars of the post-Cold War 1990s. The United States did not "have to" go to war to drive Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. No one knows that better than Kerry, who voted against the Persian Gulf War, despite its unanimous approval by the U.N. Security Council. Nor could anyone plausibly deny that the Clinton administration's interventions in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo were wars of choice. President Bill Clinton made the right choice in all three cases, but it was a choice.

Why is Kerry invoking an American "tradition" that does not exist? Because he is a liar.

JALS (Journalist Against Liberal Spin)

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea that the liberals control anything is bogus. The New York Times op-ed page features William Safire and David Brooks. The Washington Post features Charles Krauthammer.

It's conservative myth that the major networks and CNN have a liberal bias. If you can claim a liberal bias, then you can argue the need for more conservative thought.

That's probably all over your head, though.

And nice effort to not comment on anything Bush actually is quoted as saying.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, a blog arguing about semantics. If anyone wants to debate "lying", someone first needs to define it. While we are at it, I would like liberals and conservatives who may look at this blog to define (and i expect the definitions will be different, sadly):

--negative attack ad: is it a NAA when someone goes after the other's record in office? What if they do so in a spin based, misleading way (e.g. kerry's flip-flops, although there are some, not all the facts are represented in 30 sec commercials)?
--one step further: is there a distinction between a neg attack ad and character assasination-going after the person rather than the policy (e.g. virtually every pseudo political group working for the deomcrats like or michael moore)? Should there be?
--how to define lying: is it lying if you depend on faulty information to make a decision-basically is there a difference between lying and mistake? is an exageration a lie? Is blaming bush for the decline of american civilization a lie? the downfall of the economy? the endless array of stats used to spin either direction?

My point is to cut through the b-s and discuss issues and personality of the persons running for office. stay away from character assasinations and constant insinuations that everything our government does-EVERYTHING-has vicious alterior motives. It is illogical, statistically a virtual impossibility. Yet, this is the garbage spouted by groups on the far left and right but this year it is worse on the left.

Let's be realistic. Gore would have won the election in 2000 handily (and please do not give the crap about him winning. It was close, he lost. End of story. Grow up.) if he had played off the record of Bill clinton more effectively and not talked to people as if they were 2 year olds and he was the teacher. Personality was the difference in that election and it shouldnt have been. Gore should have won handily. This time around, Bush is ripe for the taking-not becuase he "lied" or because he is attempting to bring about the downfall of america-simply because he has made mistakes that many americans are unhappy about. The dems could win this one if they had a candidate who had a platform that was rock solid, who depended on winning over the masses rather than convincing everyone not to vote for the other guy. They dont and it will be a close election because of that. And Bush, he could win the election by changing VP candidates and loosening up on stem cell research. But he wont. Hence close election.

I believe in many of the social policies of the democrats and do not, by any stretch of the imagination, love Bush or his administration. However, I feel the dems have been hijacked by this outspoken group of people that come across as irrational, unwilling to reason, and so angry it is scary. And these are typically intelligent people which is scarier. Mob mentality. How in the world can the dems not disavow Michael Moore after taking a serious look at his views about America, things he has said, his movie etc....instead he is treated as a hero? It is pathetic.

I am done rambling. I am disgusted by politics these days. One last comment- the media. No question Fox leans right but not as far as some nuts would have you believe. However, CBS, ABC, CNN lean left to center. Newspapers since the dawn of time have leaned left and there are so many stats to support it, it is not even worth citing them. No myth. Even the people running the newspapers (larger ones) admit it. The scary thing is not the OPED area-it is the fact that the front page has become editorialized (look at the NYTimes objectively this past year. Scary.) Radio-very conservative, very far right. But in a sense who cares since noone other than the far right truly listen to that. They are preaching to the converted.

10:37 AM  
Blogger David R. Mark said...

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1:33 PM  

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