NO ONE CARES: We've been Penn State!

FRIDAY, JULY 13, 2012

Part 4—Refusing to notice or act: Pity the poor American voter, about whose interests nobody cares.

Consider what happened to that voter in just the past few weeks.

After the Supreme Court ruled on the Obama health law, the disinformation rolled down like rain, as it routinely does.

No, Virginia: The health care law isn’t “the biggest tax increase in history.” Neither was Bill Clinton’s tax bill in 1993, although it was trashed that way for years.

But so what? What happened then has happened now! The disinformation has rolled like rain—and it hasn’t entirely come from the Fox News Channel.

On Fox, the clowning has been general, as we noted in yesterday’s post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/12/12). Hannity, Huckabee, Pinkerton, Palin and various pols presented on tape: All the mouths popped open and said it!

On The Five, Bob Beckel was tormented by Greg Gutfeld and Eric Bolling. Pity the poor American voter, disinformed every day of the week:
BECKEL (7/3/12): Look, the point is, the point is, you've got to get over it.

GUTFELD: I love that! I love that! Of course, you want to us get over it because you just got the largest tax increase in history. Hell no, we're not getting over it!

BECKEL: Who got the largest tax increase in history?

GUTFELD: You just said it's a tax.

BECKEL: It's for people who don't have health insurance.

BOLLING: Bob, what about the, what about the $24 billion to the paper industry? What about the $60 billion tax on health insurers? How about 3.8 percent investment income tax? This has nothing to do with people who aren't buying health insurance. This has nothing to do–

BECKEL: Nobody, what Dana just said is exactly not wrong. If you don't have health insurance and you don't sign up–was wrong . If you don't sign up, then you pay a penalty/tax.

BOLLING: These are other taxes we're talking about.

BECKEL: So what? Those are taxes on health insurance.
As always, Bob didn’t know what to say. As he has done in such settings for decades, Beckel let the claim stand.

On Fox, the disinformation was general. One can only imagine what transpired in the nation’s sprawling talk radio empire.

But the disinformation was also pimped by many from outside these RNC circles. Let’s add a few more examples to those in yesterday’s post:

On the Fourth of July—Independence Day!—Dana Bash and Ashleigh Banfield exercised their liberties on CNN. Would Romney call the penalty payment a tax? As the scribes discussed this point, Bash transmitted a hoary old claim:
BASH (7/4/12): Senate Republicans in particular who I cover every day were infuriated, Ashleigh, because they were swinging from the chandeliers when they thought that they got this political gift from the Supreme Court.

They thought they could hit Democrats and the president through the summer and fall into the election by saying that he has imposed the biggest tax in American history and they thought that Mitt Romney basically took—the Republican candidate away from them and so now Romney is trying to make it right.
Why would a journalist do that? As Gloria Borger had done six days before, Bash repeated the GOP’s hoary old talking-point for them!

At no point did Bash or Banfield note that the health care law isn’t “the biggest tax in American history.” In such ways, the disinformation continued to spread, all throughout the land.

Five nights later, the same transaction occurred on CNN as Haley Barbour ate Wolf Blitzer for a late lunch. Barbour repeated the disinformation.

Blitzer just sat there and watched:
BLITZER (7/9/12): The president says 97 percent of those small businesses would not be affected by [his proposed increase in the marginal tax rate].


BARBOUR (7/9/12): I beg to differ, if you look at the returns. But you look at where the jobs are created in the United States. The people who create jobs he's trying to saddle with the largest tax increase in American history. Unless Obamacare turns out to be the largest tax increase in history.
Obamacare might be the biggest tax increase in history—unless it’s the tax increase Obama wants to impose on the top two percent! In fact, neither increase comes anywhere close to being the biggest in history. Each claim was a ludicrous misstatement. Presumably, these representations were lies, since Barbour is well-informed.

But Blitzer just sat there and took it from Barbour! Disinformation again!

Four nights earlier, Anderson Cooper said the health care law isn’t the biggest tax increase in history. He then folded up like a ten-cent tent when Erick Erickson stamped his foot at him (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/6/12).

Erickson said it was biggest—and Cooper deferred! Disinformation again!

In a rational world, this sprawling disinformation campaign would be seen as a truly remarkable process. But you don’t live in that world.

In your world, no one thinks this astonishing process is even worth noting. When voters get disinformed in such ways, it’s quite clear that nobody cares!

For the past two days, we’ve been excerpting transcripts of the programs on which the public has been disinformed. Voters have been deceived by the consummate hacks on Fox. But CNN and CBS stars have advanced the disinfo too.

Even the New York Times got in the act! When Jeff Zeleny appeared on Fox, he refused to challenge the disinformation. Disinformation advanced!

In a rational world, this would be seen as a remarkable process. Rational people would stand to ask how such “journalists” hold onto their jobs.

But in our world, disinformation campaigns of this type are completely the norm. That fact is especially clear in this latest case, because the bogus claim being advanced against Obama was also advanced against Bill Clinton. Twenty years ago!

Any journalist would know that this hoary old claim was bogus back in the 1990s. But now, when that famously bogus claim is repurposed for use against Obama, these “journalists” defer once again!

All across the United States, voters get disinformed! This has been the norm in our culture for at least twenty years.

As we close our discussion today, let’s talk about three different groups. Let’s start with the con men on Fox:

The con men on Fox: Everyone knows why the RNC advances this disinformation. Everyone knows why the con men on Fox fall in line.

Does San Mateo’s own Greg Gutfeld really believe it’s “the biggest tax increase?” Who knows? Gutfeld’s a boy who is paid by The Man to disinform fellow citizens.

(Beckel is paid to pretend to resist. You can watch this each weekday at 5.)

Everyone knows why this happens on Fox. Let’s consider a second group. Let’s consider the “mainstream press corps:”

The so-called mainstream press corps: What explains the roll-over conduct of all those CNN stars? What explains the way Jeff Zeleny swallowed the apple when he did Special Report? What explains Jan Crawford’s report on CBS? What explains Cooper’s meltdown?

And wait! There’s more:

What explains the failure of our biggest news orgs to do news reports about this ongoing disinformation campaign? Voters have been disinformed for three weeks through the use of that hoary old claim, the claim which was used against Clinton.

The New York Times hasn’t said boo about this campaign—and it never will! Why does this newspaper fail to act? Why do these actors go mute?

You can answer that however you like. But in closing, let’s consider the group whose conduct has been most remarkable. Let’s consider the “liberal” elite:

The so-called liberal elite: As this disinformation has rolled down like rain, how many protests have you heard from your favorite liberal stars? From your favorite liberal news organs?

We’ve seen at least one clear push-back. On July 2, it was presented by Ezra Klein, guest-hosting for Rachel Maddow.

Klein played tape of Hannity, Huckabee, Bachmann/Rush/Pinkerton. All were repeating the disinformation. He then offered this report, which was a fairly good start:
KLEIN (7/2/12): You’ve heard the parade of Republicans who’ve been calling the health reform law some variation of the largest tax increase in the history of life as we know it and everything in the world and the universe.

Now, while we don’t have the data to rule specifically on the history of the universe claim—Who does?—tonight, in chart imitates life, we can show you that President Obama’s health reform law is not the biggest tax increase even in American history. Not even close, really.

The individual mandate which got Republicans started on this whole kick is a tiny, tiny, tiny part of the health care bill. It’s not—even when you’re looking at the tax section, it’s not the biggest or the second biggest or the third biggest tax increase in the health care bill. Much less the largest tax increase in the history of the planet earth.

But the health care law does have other taxes in it. It increases payroll taxes on wealthy Americans. It levies a tax on unusually costly health insurance plans. Let’s say you add all of those together. Where does it add up?

Well, here’s the chart. It was drawn up by Austan Frakt, an economist who blogs at the wonderful Incidental Economist Web site. I have put it on my blog at the Washington Post this morning.

It ranks the fifteen biggest tax increases since 1950...President Obama's Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, comes in tenth. It is only the tenth biggest tax increase since 1950 in this one country that we live in. And it’s about equal in size to President Clinton’s 1993 tax increase.

And oh, here’s something interesting. It’s also about equal in size to George H.W. Bush’s 1990 tax increase.

And whoa, you know who signed an even bigger tax increase into law? President Ronald Reagan! His 1982 tax increase was about 40 percent larger than the Affordable Care Act...
Some liberals might see this as bad politics. Such reports must include the fact that the health law does include tax increases, generally assessed on high earners.

That said, our major newspapers and TV news orgs aren’t in existence to do good politics. In theory, they’re in existence to keep the public informed.

They’ve failed to do so in this instance. And very few of your favorite liberals have said a word about it. They have kept their pretty traps shut, just as they did in the 1990s when these endless disinformation campaigns were staged against Clinton, then Gore.

Darlings, career players have to be cautious!

Let’s be clear: A full report on this disnformation campaign would go beyond Klein’s effort. If the New York Times was a real newspaper, it would have done a full report like the one Klein did. But beyond that, it would have asked the hacks on Fox why they were spreading this disinformation around.

The Times would also name the names of those floundering CNN stars—Blitzer and Cooper and Bash and O’Brien and the horrible Borger. The Times would have asked those TV stars why they’ve behaved as they have.

Needless to say, you will never see the New York Times publish any such report. Nor will you ever see such a report on The One True Liberal Channel.

By now, disinformation campaigns of the current type are as American as apple pie. Everyone agrees to let them occur.

That includes big news orgs like the Times. That includes your “liberal elite.”

Why doesn’t the New York Times challenge those media stars? Darlings! Professional courtesy! Your favorite liberals clam for the very same reason.

They’ve been clamming up for decades now! They have been Penn State.

We’re talking about Joan, and David, and one or two Jonathans; they have played you for years. In the process, disinformation campaigns of this type have come to be the norm.

In the 1990s, they kept their pretty traps shut concerning the Clinton pseudo-scandals. Gene Lyons wrote Fools For Scandal. Your liberal stars stared into space.

In 1999 and 2000, an astonishing war against Gore took place. We started discussing it in the first week.

We sent weekly snail mailers to all these hacks. They had the information.

We have now spent many years documenting the disgraceful conduct involved in the twenty-month war against Gore. But players like Rich and Dowd and Matthews were in the forefront of this long war. For that reason, “liberal” careerists refuse to discuss this disgraceful history, right to this very day.

And then, the deluge, once again:

Within the last three weeks, a hoary old claim has been revived, repurposed for use against Obama. Career liberal leaders have tugged on their wee-wees and kept their precious traps shut.

This is completely expected by now. At this degraded point, the liberal world doesn’t even say boo when disinformation rolls down. We think of this as the norm.

We don’t insist that the New York Times return from the Hamptons and report. It doesn't cross our minds to do so. It doesn’t even occur to us that Cooper and Blitzer ought to be challenged in major newspapers, along with the con men at Fox.

The disinformation rolls down like rain—and we barely say boo. But then, we liberals have been Penn State for at least several decades now.

Just as Paterno averted his gaze, so have we, during the very same years. Truly, we are terrible people—though our lizard brains say that is wrong.

The dead of Iraq stare up from the ground, with others sure to follow. On the bright side, a group of young liberals will end up with very good jobs!

The norm for at least twenty years: The RNC has been like this for decades. Ditto for the mainstream press corps and the liberal elite.

Disinformation rolls like rain when the RNC sets it in motion. An early example with Beckel:

In July 1992, Bill Clinton announced his vice presidential pick. Within hours, the RNC launched one of its disinformation campaigns.

On the CBS Morning Show, Beckel ran to repeat a key point. He sat in the liberal chair, opposite Fred Barnes. Harry Smith and Paula Zahn served as his hosts, on two separate programs.

First, on Friday, July 10:
SMITH (7/10/92): Bob Beckel, you are the Clinton-Gore ticket. You are looking at the incumbents, and you are going to go after them with what?

BECKEL: Well, first of all, I would say Fred is upset only because they found a presidential ticket that is younger than he is, Harry. So—but listen, I think it was a very smart move. The all-Southern strategy, I think, was almost a necessity. The Democrats have not won a Southern state now going on 12 years. They've got to win three or four. I think these two guys can do that. The second thing is that people's rap on Al Gore is that he's not very tough as a campaigner.

That's dead wrong. He's going to be used to take on Bush and take on Quayle, to try to take, respond to what are clearly going to be an increase in Republican attacks. Let's remember about Al Gore, the first time to use Willie Horton against Dukakis in 1988 was not George Bush, it was Al Gore in New York. Gore's a tough campaigner, and that's going to be an important role for him.
Then, on the following Monday:
ZAHN (7/13/92): What kind of prediction would you like to make about the Quayle-Gore race? Are we going to see that disintegrate into something?

BARNES: Well, we're going to see a heck of a debate. I think people underestimate Dan Quayle and, as Bob always says, expectations mean a lot in politics. That will help Dan Quayle, because expectations, even after four years in office, are very low.

BECKEL: All right. Now I'll tell you what else is being—expectations are very low on, that Al Gore is not that tough a campaigner. He's a very tough campaigner. I suspect he's going to take traditional role, get out front. Remember, it was Al Gore that raised Willie Horton before it was George Bush in 1988 against Michael Dukakis. Al Gore knows how to give as well as take.
It was really Al Gore who first used Willie Horton! The claim wasn’t true, of course. But with the help of people like Beckel, the RNC pushed this claim for ten years.

Liberals just sat there and took it then. Liberals just sit there and take such things now. Often, they do so for career reasons.

As good liberals, our lizard brains tell us this can’t be true. And so, these campaigns never stop!

Pity the poor American voter, about whom no one cares.


  1. Paraphrasing one of Bob's insights here, because it applies perfectly to American politics in general:

    [The Republicans are] boy[s] paid by The Man to disinform fellow citizens.

    ([The Democrats are] paid to pretend to resist.)

  2. Excellent column. The fix is in.

  3. "Just as Paterno averted his gaze, so have we, during the very same years. Truly, we are terrible people—though our lizard brains say that is wrong."

    Bob, it is truly reprehensible to use the horrendous situation at Penn State to score political points.

    What next? You going to compare the 2000 Election to the Holocaust?