The greatest narrative of all!


Why Paul Ryan can’t be a liar: In our view, Alex Pareene is slightly wrong concerning Paul Ryan’s speech.

The Kid wants people to say the word “lie.” We think that’s a fairly dumb thing to do—and a good way to lose a debate.

That said, Pareene is almost surely right concerning the press corps’ reticence. Will the corps be willing to say that Ryan’s speech was grossly dishonest?

So far, Pareene thinks he sees the press corps holding back:
PAREENE (8/30/12): [Ryan’s dishonesty] was an attempt to break the mainstream political press. CNN is constitutionally unable to say “that was a load of tendentious bullshit.”...

Every actual non-idiot reporter present made note of how shameless the entire thing was, but only some feel comfortable saying so. Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times write-up of the speech is the driest and straightest report possible. The AP, which is a bit more tenacious than it used to be, went with “factual shortcuts.”

Ryan’s GM plant story was the most blatant outright lie. The Simpson-Bowles bit—where Ryan blamed Obama for not acting on the debt reduction plan Ryan himself torpedoed—was more a lie of omission, but it was perhaps the one that led the Beltway press to finally note how much this asshole lies. In politics, you can lie about a lot of things with the implicit permission of the political press. You can go around the nation repeating racial dog-whistles about welfare and barely raise an eyebrow. But you do not lie about Simpson-Bowles. Simpson-Bowles is sacred to these people.

That’s why the Washington Post editorial board found themselves sadly forced to sorta call Ryan a liar.
According to the AP, Ryan took “factual shortcuts!”

For ourselves, we’d say the Washington Post was fairly tough, especially since they worked on short notice. But the press corps will have a very hard time telling the truth about Ryan’s speech, thanks to a hard master narrative.

To what narrative do we refer? For at least the last twenty years, every Big Liar has been a Democrat—and almost all the big straight-talkers have been major Republicans. This constitutes a deeply engrained press corps master narrative.

Career pundits have refused to challenge this deeply stupid narrative. This includes our “liberal” pundits, who have broken their backs to avoid challenging this proclivity among their mainstream colleagues.

Dearest darlings! Careers are at stake!

Go ahead! Tote it up! Starting with Bill Clinton, all the Big Liars have been Democrats—within the press corps’ novel.

Clinton was novelized as the world’s biggest liar. They even invented a term, “Clintonesque,” to show us how slippery he was.

In 1999, the press handed the title of world’s biggest liar to Clinton’s successor, Vile Gore. When Candidate Gore wouldn’t tell any lies, the press corps invented lies for him.

Kerry was a feckless flip-flopper, even when he wasn't flip-flopping. Hillary was slippery too.

Obama has never been slimed with the Big Liar novel. But who have the truth-tellers been in this era? From which party have the straight-talkers hailed?

John McCain was the world’s most honest man. But so was Colin Powell! He has received a total pass for that bullshit at the UN.

George W. Bush was a plain-spoken fellow who said what he thought. And oh by the way: In recent years, Paul Ryan has emerged as one of the heirs to the truth-teller fortune.

Within the press corps’ disordered brains, has there been a Republican liar since Nixon? If so, we’re not sure who it was.

(Democrats are allowed to be truth-tellers, as long as they challenge their party from the right concerning budget matters. The Democratic truth-tellers have been at least four: Tsongas, Bradley, Kerrey, Moynihan. No matter what these giants said, these giants were telling the truth.)

This stupid narrative is deeply engrained—and liberal intellectual leaders have enabled it every step of the way. A personal note:

Here at THE HOWLER, we have spent many years developing and presenting information about the way Candidate Gore got scammed as the world’s biggest liar. It's an amazing story. Plainly, the press corps' misconduct changed world history.

But so what? With the recent exception of Kevin Drum (more later), you can’t get liberals to talk about that, right to the present day.

People, it simply isn’t done! Do not tell the truth to the public!

For ourselves, we would never have dreamed that any group would behave in the way “career liberals” have done. We would never have thought that you could develop so much information about some subject and have it be so widely ignored—by the very people whose political interests would gain if the information gained currency!

It has been astounding to see the way these very bad people have kept the truth under wraps. And as they’ve kept the truth under wraps, the press corps’ master narrative has hardened.

Slowly but surely, Ryan emerged in recent years as the latest most honest person in the press corps’ serial novel. Ezra was kissing Ryan’s ass just one year ago!

(So smart! So focused on policy!)

Paul Ryan has been the press corps’ most recent Most Honest Person. And uh-oh! When Most Honest People conduct major scams, the press corps has a very hard time saying so. (See Bradley's absurd misconduct during Campaign 2000, including the Willie Horton scam.)

A master narrative is locked in place. The character roles are assigned.

Journalists haven’t been challenged about this ridiculous novel. The public hasn’t been warned about it. It will be hard to paint Ryan as he is. Decades of preconception stand in the way of the truth.

So far, Pareene sees the press corps withholding the truth. They’re caught in the grip of a very bad novel. They’ve been typing their tale a long time.


  1. I thought I heard and still hear many in the press repeat the charge about what a big liar and flip flopper Romney is? Its true and they are saying it aren't they? Or do they have to testify to their sins before the Howler's Gore Commission before it can count. For the record: I admit I am too lazy to get some cites as proof.

    1. I haven't seen the "flip flopper" label much since Romney sewed up the nomination.

      His epic flip flop on waivers of the work requirement isn't even mentioned in most stories about his welfare ad.

    2. The press is hardly calling Mitt Romney a "flip flopper." Maybe in your mind, but not out here in the reality the rest of us live.

    3. Go back and read some of Somerby's past posts. He clearly states that Romney *isn't* one of the press corps darlings (like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie) who can do no wrong.

      That being the case, Romney has never been charged by the press as a big liar or even a flip-flopper, even though both are justified. Rather, their preferred charge is that he's stiff and out of touch.

  2. The Obama Presidency to a large degree threw a monkey wrench into the narrative the Daily Howler recounts here. Obama has not be unfairly tarred as dishonest, and McCain's sad double talk was given fair play. Kornacki does a bit better, as we would expect, with the Ryan speech than Parenee.
    These conventions are the party's infomercials, the Dems will get theirs, and I'm glad they are going second. Ryan's speech is more troubling in terms of hypocrisy than dishonesty, but that is the job of the Dems to make an issue of, not the Presses. Sadly, there are far too few sensible people (not Republican hacks) represented in the pundit world, and that is a problem when the Jack Welch's do the hiring. The striking thing about Matthew's takedown of Reince Priebus was all the other sluts coming to the latter's defense, though it didn't help much.
    The Dem's seem ready to fight harder and less apt to let Mitt and Paul squirm off the hook than they have been in inept years past. Every time they fight hard, it seems to make the Daily Howler go wobbly, but I think it is what has kept Obama in the race if not out front. The Republicans are a party crooks who want to take us back to the policies of George W Bush. It will be harder to tie Ryan to W than it was McCain, but if they fail to do it, it's there own fault.

    1. The Real Idiot GregAugust 31, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      The Press has no responsibility to identify deception and lies.

  3. Greg. Bob's hypothesis still holds. Obama sticks to the "narrative," that's why he's considered honest. Obama attacks black fathers. Obama sometimes channels or references average "folks" but does not actually talk as if we are individuals like he is. Bill O'Reilly allows him into his headspace.

    And Pareene being a Democrat should recognize this is the time of Occupy and Arab Spring. How can he refuse to ask if it's the recently surge of democracy that made the aristocracy start to realize something was up? I believe his ego isn't too different from Ryan. He needs their little tribal warfare games, either class or party based. He'd rather curse.

    1. In English, please?

    2. DH: Follow the script and you get a pass.
      Greg: The script is wrong because the press doesn't call Obama a liar!
      Me: Greg is confused. Obama gets applause from Bill O'Reilly -- a major script-lover. Obama follows the script. Occupy happened. Reporters begin including the real world a tiny bit more. Reporters start to see the script as a lie. Ryan follows the script. Pareen creates his own made up script because the world is all in his head. Pareen writes typical "slam" piece while bravely passing the test he himself conjured.

    3. Lewis, let me take another shot, not by thumb on phone on bus ride. Bob says the script is that Dems are fakes and flip floppers while Repubs, even when wrong, are consistent and "authentic." I think this is true and holds for Dem Presidents Clinton (oh so pole driven, except when he wasn't) and Carter too. But, even if I accept your premise that they have gone easy on him because he is so unthreatening, this just hasn't been the case with Obama.

    4. A wise man once told me Obama has not been unfairly tarred as dishonest.

      I provided to you 3 examples. I will reply if you address them.

  4. Politicians whose names rhyme with "Lyin'" should be very careful about facts.

    Anyway, Bob is right about how hard it's going to be to undo the damage done by decades of laziness and dishonesty from the press corps, but this is also the sort of thing that can blow up on Ryan. He's not actually a very likeable figure if you aren't a Washington millionaire, and the stuff he proposes is repellent. He's ripe for a skewering from SNL and other backdoor opinion shapers, in part because he seems so bland, but is actually so noxious -- such people are easy to caricature because you can simply paint whatever you want on their blank canvas. And there is always that name.

  5. There was one Democratic politician who was branded a truth teller. Joe Lieberman was, after all, the "last honest man". (h/t Atrios)

    Of course, the first lie he told was that he was a Democrat.