Also names Candidate Gore: Where do conservative voters get their bogus ideas?
The same place we liberals increasingly do—from trusted leaders! Also, from a journalistic culture which is strongly inclined, at its upper end, to let misstatements go.
In yesterday’s award-winning post, we noted the way Sean Hannity played fast and loose with the truth concerning Obamacare. We learned about Hannity’s conduct in a post at Salon, where it won’t have a giant effect.
When it comes to this sort of thing, the New York Times doesn’t much care.
Today, let’s consider a similar report—a report by veteran journo Jill Lawrence at the Atlantic. “Can Rand Paul Learn to Tell the Truth?” the headline piquantly asks on Lawrence’s profile of Paul.
The last time we looked in on Rand Paul, he was parading about on TV, explaining to several unprepared hosts that it really wouldn’t matter if we didn’t raise the debt limit.
That was a highly improbable claim. Persistently, voters heard the claim on Fox, voiced by various major figures. When Paul made the claim on Meet the Press, guest host Savannah Guthrie didn’t know what to say.
In this case, the New York Times did discuss this claim, or at least it pretended to do so. The mighty newspaper even featured the claim in a front-page report! Perhaps so no one would get mad, Jonathan Weisman apparently had his teeth removed before being allowed to start typing.
Why do conservative voters believe false claims? In large part, because they constantly hear false claims, with little effective attempt at correction by our major news sources.
In her profile, Lawrence lists additional bogus claims Paul is inclined to make. Somewhat improbably, she says “watchdogs are compiling a growing file of evidence that [Paul] plays loose with the facts.”
Does Rand Paul play loose with the facts as a matter of habit? Early in her piece, Lawrence offered a few examples of his misstatements from a session with medical students.
Later, Lawrence returns to this basic theme—Paul tends to be less than truthful. She lists quite a few examples of Paul’s bogus claims.
Then, the veteran journalist issues a warning about truth-telling, naming two recent White House contenders. And good God! One of the hopefuls she names is Al Gore.
Cover the eyes of the children:
LAWRENCE: National candidates always face repeated questions about subjects they'd rather avoid. Some of them get confrontational in response (think Newt Gingrich when asked about his marriages). But the successful ones develop canned answers to roll out on cue without getting exercised. George W. Bush, for example, defused questions about his past drug and alcohol use with this classic line: "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."Good God! These people never abandon their stories! Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Or at least he might have!
Paul might consider paying some heed to the fact-checkers rather than dismissing them as ideological foes. For a presidential candidate, it can be dangerous and sometimes fatal to repeatedly mangle the facts or even to develop an image, justified or not, as untruthful. Just ask Al (Invented the Internet) Gore or Michele (Vaccine Causes Retardation) Bachmann.
In this case, note the way Lawrence covers herself against criticism. Because of the way she frames this passage, readers get to decide whether Bachman and Gore really were untruthful in the examples she cites.
Did Candidate Gore really say that he invented the Internet? Was it “justified” when he “developed that image?” Slickly, in sphinxlike fashion, Lawrence declines to say!
Lawrence has an embarrassing history with this particular topic. But nothing stops these willful beings from repeating the magical phrases they’ve memorized and learned to love.
We thought the Times took a major pass when Paul (and others) paraded about saying the debt limit wouldn’t matter. Beyond that, two major TV hosts didn’t seem to know what to say when Paul made this presentation.
Viewers constantly heard the claim on Fox. The New York Times was afraid to bark. This is one way American voters come to believe bogus claims.
Tomorrow: Kessler nails what’s-his-name concerning Obamacare