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Friday, August 31, 2012

Lying Liars and the Television Critics Who Enable Them

Posted by on Fri, Aug 31, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Michael Cooper writing in today's NYT ("Facts Take a Beating In Acceptance Speeches"):

Representative Paul D. Ryan used his convention speech on Wednesday to fault President Obama for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he himself had helped kill. He chided Democrats for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he too had sought. And he lamented the nation’s credit rating—which was downgraded after a debt-ceiling standoff that he and other House Republicans helped instigate. And Mitt Romney, in his acceptance speech on Thursday night, asserted that President Obama’s policies had “not helped create jobs” and that Mr. Obama had gone on an “apology tour” for America. He also warned that the president’s Medicare cuts would “hurt today’s seniors,” claims that have already been labeled false or misleading.... Any unmasking of the lies or distortions, the thinking goes, rarely seeps into the public consciousness.

Alessandra Stanley writing in today's NYT ("How MSNBC Became Fox’s Liberal Evil Twin"):

You can agree with everything that Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz say on MSNBC and still oppose their right to say it. Especially when they and their hyped-up panelists shout that Republican claims are “lies."

Gee, why don't efforts to unmask the lies "seep into the public consciousness"? Maybe because newspaper reporters and television news anchors are too inhibited or too compromised or too terrified to call lies lies. Instead of telling us the truth in plain English—you're being lied to—they tell us that facts took beatings, that "factual shortcuts" were taken, that a statement may have been "factually challenged." They make it sound like facts did something wrong. (Facts are such pussies—why do they just stand there and take beatings like that? Why don't facts fight back? Pussy facts!)

Here's what happened at the RNC: lies were told, over and over and over again, by nearly every idiot who stood at the podium. And the same reporters and anchors who refuse to point out the lies and call out the liars—the same reporters and anchors who refuse to do their jobs—wonder why their pathetic, cringing, tortured, opaque, failing, flailing, euphemism-packed efforts to "unmask" lies without ever calling them lies never quite "seeps into the public consciousness."

And when a reporter or an anchor actually has the temerity/balls/ovaries calls a lie a lie—when a reporter does his or her job—Alessandra Stanley is there to scold them.


Comments (34) RSS

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Pope Peabrain 1
If Republicans ever told the truth they'd be tarred and feathered by the Teabaggers.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on August 31, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
mrbarky 2
I don't really care what the NY Times or Kaplan Post have to say any more. They've already lost me precisely because they have acted like complete cowards in the face of Fox News or Drudge. They kept thinking that if only they bent over backwards to conservatives, if only they would start calling torture "enhanced interrogation', that the drooling masses that watch Fox News might start subscribing. They won't. They may leave nasty comments on the website, but they will never ever like or respect them.

I watch Al Jazeera or BBC in the morning on my Roku box. I get Reuters on my Kindle. Those keep me well informed.
Posted by mrbarky on August 31, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
seatackled 3
Never heard of her, but here's what Wikipedia says about her:

Several news and media organizations, including the Times, have criticized the accuracy of Stanley's reporting. Among the articles that they have criticized are a September 5, 2005 piece on Hurricane Katrina, a 2005 article that called the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond "All About Raymond", and a July 18, 2009 retrospective on the career of Walter Cronkite that contained eight research and spelling errors. In an August 2009 article examining the mistakes in the Cronkite piece, Clark Hoyt, the Times's public editor, described Stanley as "much admired by editors for the intellectual heft of her coverage of television" but "with a history of errors".Then executive editor Bill Keller defended Stanley, saying "She is — in my opinion, among others — a brilliant critic." In April 2012, Salon contributor Glenn Greenwald described her New York Times review of Julian Assange's television debut as "revealing, reckless snideness" and "cowardly."
Posted by seatackled on August 31, 2012 at 9:38 AM · Report this

Is it really you?

(praise The Maker!)

Did you survive the night?

How many Christinista Ninja Assassins
did you have to fight off last night?

(you are totally our hero!)
Posted by DEATH THREATS?! Danny LAUGHS at Death Threats.... on August 31, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
rob! 5
Headlines are important, too, because they're what determine first and foremost whether a story gets read.

As with Slog posts, the original header sticks because it's what anchors the story in the database, even if the display title is amended (or twisted).

The original headline of Michael Cooper's piece?
Ryan’s Speech Contained a Litany of Falsehoods
It may not be "Pants on Fire!" but it beats "Facts Take a Beating."
Posted by rob! on August 31, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
Andrea Seabrook left NPR precisely because she was sick of being told lies over and again as she covered DC politcal news... she has started a new blog Real journalists need to step up to the plate and start reporting Real News and not the constant barrage of lies from the RNC
Posted by ruthw on August 31, 2012 at 9:49 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 7
and to think my dad won't read the NYT when he visits because of its liberal bias.

it's bias is money and power, and reporters don't call lies out because of money. and power.
Posted by Max Solomon on August 31, 2012 at 9:52 AM · Report this
I think half the problem is the balkanization of the media in the US. Here, liberals can go to MSNBC, conservatives to Fox, and if entities like CNN start asking tough questions, politicians just won't talk to them. So CNN etc have to be bland and boring, because otherwise they lose access.

Contrast this to Canada/UK/Australia (for example), where all politicians of all stripes HAVE to answer to the CBC/BBC/ABC. I have heard interviewers from those entities say to sitting Prime Minsters "How can you say that? That's patently false" or "you have to be crazy if you think people will believe that."

If the media here were able to ask tough questions and actually call people on their lies, the lies would stop. But where politicians can just ignore media organizations that are too tough (recall Bush's interview with that Irish broadcaster), then they can lie with impunity.
Posted by DeanP on August 31, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 9
@8 well, this is a country where no one wants to hear the truth or be called out on anything. The right has been doing it for years it's just now the left is just starting to catch up.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on August 31, 2012 at 9:58 AM · Report this
(Facts are such pussies—why do they just stand there and take beatings like that? Why don't facts fight back? Pussy facts!)

Okay, Dan. As a pussy owner, I am now done with the image of cowardice being linked with the vagina.
Posted by skyweaver on August 31, 2012 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 11
I note that you and most major media failed to apologize for the lies about tropical depression Isaac (not to mention Irene).

Is there any credibility left for Big News?

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on August 31, 2012 at 10:18 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 12
@10 - Indeed, and can we stop insinuating that dicks are obnoxious, horrible people? EVERY PIECE OF MY ANATOMY DESERVES THE UTMOST RESPECT.
Posted by MacCrocodile on August 31, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Reporters are placed in the unenviable position of trying to report the news as accurately as possible, but at the same time not piss off the multinational corporate CEO's that have increasingly monitored not only the content of their news divisions, but who in many ways directly dictate how stories are presented. Journalists WANT to be accurate, they WANT to be fair, they WANT to be reasonably objective, but they also want to keep their jobs. It's a lose-lose for everybody except the 1%'ers running things from their 70th floor board rooms.

There was a time in this country when network execs actually allowed their news departments to report news relatively unfettered, but with global consolidation of mass media into literally a handful of multi-national corporations, those days are long gone.
Posted by COMTE on August 31, 2012 at 10:22 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 14
@10: i hear you, but i think originally "pussy" meant pussy CAT. cats are pussies a lot of the time - slinking away and hissing. which is not accurate either if you met my cat.

vaginas are the bravest body parts i know.
Posted by Max Solomon on August 31, 2012 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 15
“It must be nice to be a Republican senator sometimes, because you get the fun of breaking shit, and the joy of complaining that the shit you just broke doesn’t work.”

-Jon Stewart.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on August 31, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Doesn't Ms. Stanley have it exactly backwards?

Although Voltaire didn't actually say it, the idea that "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is at the center of America's devotion to freedom of speech.
Posted by N in Seattle on August 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM · Report this
a usually unchallenged lie, is saying lower taxes spur job creation, as if the cost of labor isn't deducted before calculating profit. people hire or don't hire to make profit. if profitable to hire, they hire. if the profit after deducting labor and other costs is $100 it makes no diff if the profit is taxed at 39% or 35% to their decision to hire, to make profit. also, 1,000 other things are uncertain and can affect profit (like, is there a recenssion dampening purchasing power!) so the claimed "uncertainty of possible future tax changes!" as a reason why business isn't investing is a big old lie. finally, we had tremendous economic growth and job creation and millionaire and billionaire creation from 1940 to 1981 under higher taxes, and probably even cathy mcmorris' little family fruit stand grew under the higher clinton tax rates, so pretty much ALL economic statements by the GOP are pure lies.
Posted by yes, they lie. on August 31, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
@14 I think assholes are braver...
Posted by EricaP on August 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
Tell me what I want to hear, Daddy.
Posted by Tor on August 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Report this
What are you talking about?

Have you bought into the Rush fantasy that we know exactly how to predict the path of hurricanes and they said Tampa early on just to ??? (insert insane belief here)

If that is your story the ha ha ha ha what an idiot. Otherwise please enlighten us to whatever "truth" was hidden.
Posted by Madame Chintoa on August 31, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
@16, yeah, I couldn't parse her point the way it was written. I think you're probably right.
Posted by EricaP on August 31, 2012 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 22
I read a thought-provoking interview with Dmitry Orlov (shirtless!) recently in which he stated that we should feel sorry for our politicians because the American public demands to be lied to, and if the politicians stop lying, then the crazier elements of the population will assassinate them. Sad, but true. It's a helluva lot of work keeping those delusional right-wing fantasies going in the face of reality's overwhelming liberal/sanity bias.

P.S. He's welcome to drill my peak oil reserves anytime.
Posted by Original Andrew on August 31, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Report this
I dunno.... even Fox News is calling them out on their lies.…


" anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.

"The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated."
Posted by JPT on August 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 24
OK, the interview is like 50,000 words--they should have published it in The New Yorker--so here's the section to which I referred.

DO: I think you’re too hard on American politicians because look at the people they’re governing. If you tried to rule these people you would probably end up just like them. It’s a completely thankless task unless you find some benefit in it for yourself. So the politicians are hard pressed to make it worth their while to be politicians. I can commiserate with them about the quality of the populace because democracy is really for people who are capable of self-governance.

Now Americans at large are not capable of self-governance. They expect to be protected from each other. They expect to be provided for. They expect for things to remain the same even when this doesn’t make any more sense. And those are their expectations. So they expect to be lied to.

If you stop lying to Americans they would kill you. That is the bind that our national politicians are in and we should feel sorry for them.

LC: Oh, I do quite often. I definitely do feel that it’s the system at large. But I go back and forth. Is it the politicians? Is it the media? Is it the interface? Is it the people? And you know, it’s hard to unravel the cat’s cradle of insanity that the entire ball of yarn is.
Posted by Original Andrew on August 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Because if you call someone "liar," you get SUED. Then, even if your case is 100% perfect, even if you can prove that they were lying, it's still crazy expensive and it still gives the big fat liar free advertizing and a fake moral high ground.

And how do I get this stupid weather forecast bar to go away? I DON'T EVEN LIVE IN SEATTLE and it's flashing around while I'm trying to read!
Posted by DRF on August 31, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 26
Because if you call someone "liar," you get SUED.

Since when? Do you live in the UK perchance?

In the U.S., the burden of proof in libel and slander cases is on the plaintiff, not the defense, which is why libel and slander cases are very rare, especially involving anyone in the public sphere.
Posted by keshmeshi on August 31, 2012 at 12:43 PM · Report this
pales 27
my favorite line, which has proof of the lie actually embedded in it: "Mr. Matthews fulminated against Paul Ryan’s — admittedly misleading — assertion that Mr. Obama did nothing to prevent the closing of a GM plant in 2008."

Particularly astute citizens will note that Obama was inaugurated in Jan 2009.
Posted by pales on August 31, 2012 at 1:38 PM · Report this
pales 28
Oh, and here's the press release from Paul Ryan regarding the plant closure - on October 23, 2008.…
Posted by pales on August 31, 2012 at 1:45 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 29
@25- you click in the upper right corner when you see a finger-icon, and it disappears, as if you hit an "X". Invisible "close" buttons now- what will advertisers think of next?
As for lying politicians- give it up. We all cling to our NPR, MSNBC and Slate/New Yorker news. The Rethugs stick to FOX, Free Republic, etc.
In short, nobody *wants* to hear the facts anymore, on either side of the political spectrum, hence, we don't hear.
Posted by OutInBumF on August 31, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
@29 I tried that. It just makes the full-page ad pop up in a new window.
Posted by DRF on August 31, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
@29 I tried that. It just makes the full-page ad pop up in a new window. EDIT: Wait! They concealed the true corner of the ad! Oh thank you. That was driving me batty.
Posted by DRF on August 31, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this
rob! 32
@31: Get the Adblock extension, available for most browsers, or use the Slog mobile page (ad-free):…
Posted by rob! on August 31, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
For the love of Pete, Dan, how many goddamned times have you been raked over the coals for using "pussy" as an insult implying weakness?

Didn't you even do a whole blasted column about it once, promising to mend your ways?
Posted by robotslave on August 31, 2012 at 9:25 PM · Report this
venomlash 34
@12: Even your taint? o_0
Posted by venomlash on August 31, 2012 at 9:31 PM · Report this

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