As heard on Fox: Jill Lawrence fingers Rand Paul for misstatements!


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."

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.
Good God! These people never abandon their stories! Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Or at least he might have!

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


  1. Has anyone ever noticed that the press corps War on Gore somehow failed to keep the younger half of the Tennessee Congressional dynasty from winning the popular and probably electoral college vote in 2000.

    1. Actually, he did win the popular vote. And had the Supreme Court not intervened, and allowed the vote count to continue in Florida, he would have won the Electoral college as well. That and the mayhem caused by flunkies paid to be disruptive of the vote count process combined to give us one of the worst presidents in our history.

    2. Well I guess only Bachmann was prevented from being President by the lousy meme-driven tale-telling media.

    3. Perhaps the vote wouldn't have been as close if lies hadn't been told about Gore during the campaign. It wouldn't have had to go to the Supreme Court and wouldn't have been stolen, had not the animosity of the press made the outcome closer.

    4. By what margin would Gore have won had the press not made shit up about him? Ah! You don't say...because you don't know.

    5. Exactly, A. Perez.

      I've been voting for president since 1972, and Al Gore was unquestionably the most qualified non-incumbent that I have ever voted for.

      But, with the possible exceptions of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, he was also the most boring, uninspiring candidate for president I have ever voted for.

      Two things about both Clinton and Obama. 1. They were both inspiring. 2. They never let the other guy define them, nor think that countering the tales spread about them was the job of the "mainstream media."

    6. "Inspiring" alas, comes close to sounding like "entertaining" in pop politics speak. And what a price we have paid for that.

  2. I may be wrong, but my memory is that Bush denied having used drugs. Of course, he was close to being an alcoholic before he stopped drinking, a fact which he acknowledged.

    1. Before W became WPE, there were rumors of his use of marijuana and cocaine, but he was always cagey when asked directly. His standard answer was that he did or could truthfully answer no to questions about drug use posed on various FBI background checks. These translated to a denial of drug use after 1974.

      The WPE denied that he was an alcoholic but said that he drank too much. When he was 30, he pled guilty to DUI in Maine. When he was 40, he quit drinking, reportedly without a word to friends and family.

  3. If not for Gore's glaring incomptence and refusal to fight, the Democrats would've won
    the last six presidential elections in a row - but Gore chose to surrender, instead.

  4. Lies were told about Bush, also. In particular, the lie that he was stupid. In fact, Bush's overall academic record was superior to Gore's.

    The two had similar undergraduate results. They both graduated in 4 years (one from Harvard, one from Yale) with lousy grades. However, Bush's graduate work was far superior. Bush succeeded in earning a prestigious Harvard MBA degree. Gore failed in his effort to get a divinity degree at Vanderbilt and failed in his effort to get a law degree from Vanderbilt.

    1. Bush was all hat and no cattle.

    2. Gore quit law school to run for Congress in 1976, winning a seat in the House of Representatives. He won the next three elections in his district before winning a Senate seat in 1984.

      Yeah, Bush won a "prestigious" degree from Harvard and after eight years as President presided over the country's plunge into the worst depression since the 1930s. Frickin' genius.

    3. Ummm, Gore graduated cum laude from Harvard. And, after his service as an elisted man in the Army including a stint in Vietnam, he enrolled in Vanderbilt Divinity School under a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship while working nights at the Nashville Tennessean. He quit divinity school after exposing corruption on the city council as a reporter to go to law school, where he thought he could better fight corruption.

      Then, as deadrat noted, he left law school to run for Congress in 1976, and he would serve in Congress for the next 24 years. That is hardly "failed in his effort".

    4. At some point they're will be an attempt to rehabilitate W. D in C shows us just how hard a road that will be. But they'll give it a shot.

  5. Judy Woodruff, now one of the chief co-anchors on the PBS News Hour, is one of the worst TV journalists I've ever seen in terms of not correcting gross errors, slurs or anything else.

    A couple nights ago in a segment on the fortunes of the GOP Trent Lott called President Obama's proposed Infrastructure Bank, once a bi-partisan concept, a "slush fund." Woodruff just stared into space.

    Last night, GOP Congressman Tim Huelskamp kept repeating the same talking points, some of them squarely in contradiction to reality. Did Woodruff challenge him? No, she just kept focusing on "strategy" and "process." It was pathetic.

    She's one of many "journalists" in this regard. Nothing seems to get through to them. Perhaps they're all afraid of losing the Koch brothers' support. Who knows?