Just In Case Anyone Was Worried About A Sudden Shortage…

…one more thought on Truth-Vigilante-gate.

I certainly agree with what seems like every front pager here (some more than once!)* feels about the ludicrousness of anyone even having to ask whether or not it might make sense to call out lies in print.  But it still seems to me that for all the fun at the expense of the Grey Lady, one key element in the story has been underplayed.

That would be that covering politics today is actually a genuinely different and more difficult task than it was back when folks like me (folks I knew) first got into the business at places like the Times.

The problem is really simple.  The current Republican elite simply has no problem lying.

In this short post I’m not going to retail even a tithe of the examples available, instead outsourcing just a taste of the tsunami of bullshit that constitutes GOPster public argument to Steve Benen, who himself confines his review to the bullshit spewed by the current frontrunner, that 3-dimensional caricture of Eliot’s trope, one Willard Mitt Romney.

He/they lie all the time.  About anything.  But — and this is the key — for all the “politics ain’t beanbag” and “they all do it” reflexes, this really is a new (ish) phenomenon.

Now, I’m not saying that American politics hasn’t included a lot of lying for a very long time.  But the difference now is that it’s not just the agents — John Adams’ rumoristas or the Swift Boat scum — but the principals themselves who are now willing to retail and repeat direct falsehoods into microphone after microphone.

That’s hard to confront, even for experienced hacks:**  most of us don’t think people will flat out lie to our faces — especially when the lie is easily checked.  When I got started as a reporter, I was certainly trained to expect sources to spin, dissemble, shape their accounts.  But the idea that they would default to flat out lying, as opposed to retreating to it when pressed — that really wasn’t the expectation.

The goal was to write a story in which the spin was unwound.  If you could do that — demonstrate through the totality of your reporting how, say, jobs lost to downsizing were either corporate raiding at its worst or the best outcome for what would otherwise be a bankrupt business — then you’d done your job.

So, yes:  to the question of whether the Times or any journalistic operation should become  “truth vigilantes,” the answer is, obviously, yes.  Still, it’s important to remember that the Times  and its reporters face this problem specifically because the Mitt and his merry men have made the gap between what they say and what actually is so deep and so wide.

I’m not trying to absolve anyone here.  But it is important to condemn the greater sin as well as the lesser. It is genuinely difficult for the individual journalists tasked with the job of covering the election this year to do that job well  because a forty+ year campaign to derange our politics has come to full flower in the Romney campaign.  (Not to mention in GOP politicking and governance across the country.  Think Scott, Daniels, Kasich, Walker, Perry, and all the rest.)

Root causes matter.

*Plus, it seems, all those others on ‘branes in the bloggy multiverse.  I’m not even going to bother to link; throw a rock in this quarter of Blogistan and you’ll hit something relevant on every bounce.
**I’m using the word here in its Fleet St. sense, with love.
Image:  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, In the Cafe, 1898






66 replies
  1. 1

    Sorry, Mr L. We had almost simultaneous postings.

    Mind you, I suspect your eloquence may atone a little for my litany of poo jokes and profanity….

  2. 2
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Sarah Proud and Tall: Nah. My bad — I just hit publish without doing a last check of the master blog.

    Ah well–a feast is as good as enough.

  3. 3
    General Stuck says:

    You got to hand it to the modern wingnut. They have had their own Borg Cube where all the monsters are tuned in and puke funnel the same lie, often, amazingly, word for word by multiple drones on multiple venues. The Iraq run up was the first time I had noticed this phenomenon. Only problem today, some of the borg pulled out their implants and are flying solo, launching stinkbombs out of their propeller heads. And everything is the target.

  4. 4
    MikeJ says:

    When I was in j-school they told us, “if your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

    It’s a pity the Times doesn’t believe in it.

  5. 5
    cathyx says:

    Just because your job got harder to do doesn’t mean you don’t do it.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @General Stuck:

    Yet these idiots say they loathe “collectivism”, when they adhere to a party line better than apparatchiks did under Stalin.

  7. 7
    Tom Levenson says:

    @cathyx: No argument here. The point is that you have to recognize the reality and scale of the problem before you can solve it — and that’s part of what’s been so hard for MSM journalists. They genuinely have trouble accepting that their sources/buddies are just flat out f**king spewing falsehoods in their faces — particularly when the chorus repeats it over and over again.

    It’s a special quality — I almost want to call it a talent — to be able to say with conviction things that you know are not true, and to do it over and over again until you outlast contradiction. It’s hard to credit it when it happens to you.

    Doesn’t mean you don’t have to do the work — just that the work is genuinely hard for real emotional reasons.

  8. 8
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    But it is important to condemn the greater sin as well as the lesser. It is genuinely difficult for the individual journalists tasked with the job of covering the election this year to do that job well because a forty+ year campaign to derange our politics has come to full flower

    But how would that campaign to derange our politics have fared if journalists had fought back against it at any point? The causal relationships go both ways here, in which case I’m not sure the greater sin and the lesser sin are as distinct from one another as your post implies.

    Say NYT dearest, that corpse you planted last year in your garden, ‘Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?

  9. 9
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Once again, I cite the Letterman/McCain incident of 2008 where Letterman caught McCain red handed in an incredibly stupid lie, and let him have it with both barrels for doing so. Letterman harped on it for weeks.

    He’d be the first one to say he’s got a shitty little entertainment show, but he was doing more actual fucking journalism than all of CBS News at the time.

    It’s like Stewart and Colbert. Entertainment shows that are more journalistic than CNN, MSNBC, and Faux Nooze combined (although admittedly Faux is not journalism, in the same sense that Julius Streicher was not a journalist.)

  10. 10
    Tonal Crow says:

    It is genuinely difficult for the individual journalists tasked with the job of covering the election this year to do that job well because a forty+ year campaign to derange our politics has come to full flower in the Romney campaign.

    It needs to be added that the GOP’s 40-year campaign to derange our politics has been conducted as a 40-year campaign against the idea that we can ascertain the truth — and sometimes against the very idea that truth exists.

    Republicans enthusiastically promote these nihilistic doctrines, even as they inveigh against nihilism and project its use onto their opponents.

    We need to call them on this vigorously, without pause, and without mercy, until everyone not living under a rock understands that Republicans are the very Fountainhead of Lies.

  11. 11
    AA+ Bonds says:

    When I got started as a reporter, I was certainly trained to expect sources to spin, dissemble, shape their accounts. But the idea that they would default to flat out lying, as opposed to retreating to it when pressed—that really wasn’t the expectation.

    This can be plotted along the axes of time and savvy as the area between Roger Ailes’s ascent and the press’s movement to adapt

  12. 12
    cathyx says:

    @Tom Levenson: I didn’t mean to sound like I was contradicting you. Most of us have employers who have heaped more work on us for the same pay as they make more cut backs in staff. All the while expecting us to keep up. Reporters are no different. At least they have to internet now to help them.

    They can thank themselves for the mess they’re in by being stenographers and letting the politicians get away with all the lies in the first place.

  13. 13
    gnomedad says:

    1. Lie all the time.

    Then, either:

    2. Not get called on it.
    3. Profit!

    or

    2. Get called on it all the time.
    3. Liberal media!
    4. Profit!

  14. 14
    Canuckistani Tom says:

    And here I’ve been worried about sole sourcing because I’ve gone back far enough (1890s) in my historical writing that only one of the local newspapers has microfilm copies of that era.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Funny, but going back to the NYT site just now, it looks like they opened comments briefly this afternoon, in both of Brisbane’s posts, and the derision is simply unrelenting. Comments are closed again.

    But as I’ve said, this is a newspaper which still displays a Pulitzer that was awarded to a liar for lying while in their employ, so I am sadly unsurprised.

  16. 16

    I remember when Bill Clinton lied straight-faced about Monica Lewinsky, wagging his finger as he went. Bob Kerrey had had it all wrong – Clinton was a terrible liar. He still cared enough about the truth that he tried to grease up a few sentences that could later be parsed as technically accurate even though he meant them to deceive.

    Today’s Republicans? Nope, a lie in defense of Republicanism is no vice to them. They don’t trim. They flat-out bullshit.

  17. 17
    Brachiator says:

    That’s hard to confront, even for experienced hacks:** most of us don’t think people will flat out lie to our faces—especially when the lie is easily checked. When I got started as a reporter, I was certainly trained to expect sources to spin, dissemble, shape their accounts. But the idea that they would default to flat out lying, as opposed to retreating to it when pressed—that really wasn’t the expectation.

    Seems to me that this should make it easier. When somebody offers you an easy pitch, you hit it out of the ballpark.

    First graf of a story: “On the campaign trail today, Governor Romney lied about his record, lied about the economy, and lied about the Obama administration.”

    I’ve seen journalists who might do this eased out of the business, not because of conspiracies or conservatives taking over, but as newspapers cut staff and salaries as they desperately try to survive. But they have also become more timid in the process, afraid that alienating readers will cost them even more.

    This is a long way away from the time when Otis Chandler honored his agreement never to censor, or even second guess political cartoonist Paul Conrad, who gleefully went after the crooks and liars, and had a special antipathy for the chicanery of Nixon and Reagan.

    Thing is, after a certain point in cutting costs and selling out, they have no more reason to exist.

    And as others have pointed out, it is an odd reversal when comedians do a better job of pointing out the lies and obfuscations of politicians than do people who claim to be journalists.

    Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
    -Fool, King Lear, (brach is an archaic term for b^tch)

  18. 18
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Levenson @ Top:

    When I got started as a reporter, I was certainly trained to expect sources to spin, dissemble, shape their accounts. But the idea that they would default to flat out lying, as opposed to retreating to it when pressed—that really wasn’t the expectation.

    Not only this, but that they continue to agressively assert and insist the lie is truth even beyond being called on it.

    I suspect reporters are often taken aback and left gaping, like Elizabeth Warren at Patrick McHenry, at the sheer effrontery of Republican lying — from its consultants, operatives, candidates, and, dismayingly, its office-holders.

    .

  19. 19
    Mojotron says:

    They flat-out bullshit

    This involves not merely producing one instance of bullshit; it involves a program of producing bullshit to whatever extent the circumstances require. This is a key, perhaps, to his preference. Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to avoid the consequences of having that point occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand, a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to fake the context as well, so far as need requires. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less deliberative than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and independent, with more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the “bullshit artist.”

  20. 20
    Tonal Crow says:

    @JGabriel:

    Not only this, but that they continue to agressively assert and insist the lie is truth even beyond being called on it. I suspect reporters are often taken aback and left gaping, like Elizabeth Warren at Patrick McHenry, at the sheer effrontery of Republican lying — from its consultants, operatives, candidates, and, dismayingly, its office-holders.

    Right. It’s the Big Lie Technique. And it’s time reporters recognized that it exists, understood how it works, armed themselves against it, and faithfully and insistently reported on its use. Enough with the GOP’s Fountainhead of Lies already.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Cervantes says:

    Tom, it may be true that the GOP’s lying is nowadays more blatant than it used to be; yet it is impossible to believe that the press corps (deserves some sympathy because it?) is valiantly struggling in the face of the onslaught. In fact, the elite media are often collaborators, not merely victims. Just looking at the NYT alone, and only over the last two decades, consider: “Whitewater,” the coverage of the Gore campaign in 1991/1992, the persecution of Wen-Ho Lee in 1999/2000, the build-up to the attack on Iraq in 2003 (I could go on). How often does this sort of thing have to happen before you conclude that The Villagers are either complete morons or lying thugs?

  23. 23
    Anoniminous says:

    Maybe if journalists studied something other than Journalism — ‘Critical Thinking’ springs to mind — they wouldn’t be so flustered when it comes to comparing and contrasting differing views.

    (Just a thought.)

  24. 24
    mclaren says:

    There’s another big difference in covering politics today: newspapers have had their staffs cut and cut and cut and cut and cut and cut.

    Back in the day, even moderate-sized newspapers had a lot of reporters able to do serious research on what some pol said. Today, those reporters are gone. They’ve been cashiered. They got bought out or fired during the latest round of cuts.

    These cuts have been going on for decades, and now, entire news desks have been shut down, wiped out, sent packing. The big problem everyone here correctly points to — namely, that even the largest newspapers have become little more stenographers who take down pols’ press releases and reprint ’em verbatim, regardless of whether it’s a pack of lies — originates not in the reporters’ laziness, but in the savage and ever-escalating rounds of cuts publishers have made to the news bureaus and news desks in a frantic effort to stem the tide of red ink.

    The hard cold reality of the early 21st century is that newspapers’ business model doesn’t work anymore. It’s based on selling classified ads, and Craigslist has wiped out most of the profit there.

    Even the biggest newspapers no longer have the staff of reporters required to fact-check all the pols’ statements. Back in the day, they did. And the pols knew it. Today, one reporter gets charged with covering what an entire news desk covered 40 years ago, and one reporters simply does not have the time or the resources to fact-check all that information.

    So blame the pols for constructing an Orwellian alternate reality (admirably described in Billmon’s classic post “Spock with a beard: the sequel” in 2010). But blame the newspapers for the ever-increasing rounds of cuts that have made it impossible to do serious research into pols’ claims.

  25. 25
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Most Journalism schools require a sort of minor, or course emphasis. They recommend Sociology. You need 20 units.

  26. 26
    gaz says:

    @Mojotron: That’s so good, it’d be damned stingy to deprive the commentariat of further reading at a source link. So here it is
    http://www.gwinnettdailyonline.....729B26.asp

    And thanks. I love this essay.

  27. 27
    gaz says:

    @Tonal Crow: oops. You beat me to it.

  28. 28

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    But how would that campaign to derange our politics have fared if journalists had fought back against it at any point? The causal relationships go both ways here, in which case I’m not sure the greater sin and the lesser sin are as distinct from one another as your post implies.

    This. We didn’t get to the point where a Republican presidential candidate feels perfectly secure lying through his teeth in one big jump. They’ve been getting bolder in their lying year by year because they haven’t been challenged on it often enough and successfully enough.

  29. 29
    Anoniminous says:

    @Benjamin Franklin:

    And that will ‘larn-em’ how to detect, say, Informal Logic Fallacies … how?

  30. 30

    I’ll also point out that there are some questions that need to be raised.

    If someone claims “The Bush tax cuts helped the economy”, well, that’s arguable. It’s not exactly a lie – I’m sure the economy did something good around the time of the Bush tax cuts. We can’t prove they caused it, but we can’t prove they didn’t.

    When Romney claims that Obama has gone around “apologizing for America” that’s not true, but it’s a lot more squishy. When does that become a “lie” if there are a lot of people willing to assert that he has, for all intents and purposes, been apologizing for America?

    Somewhere between “Obama is apologizing for America” and “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme” is a hard and fast line – Social Security can be made sound with proper actuarial assumptions and funding levels, so it bears no resemblance to a Ponzi scheme, but admitting that America has fallen short of American ideals bears *some* resemblance to apologizing.

    (Did I just say “Somewhere between … is a hard and fast line?” Sigh. I’ll let it ride.)

    I believe that the Times even brought this particular example up – the “apologizing…” bit. And that *is* a valid issue.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Let’s say you want to call a Republican plan to cut spending on food stamps to be “heartless”. Lots of people think it’s heartless. But a lot of people think it’s absolutely essential because booga booga, deficit coming to kill you in your sleep.

    Should the Times point out that it’s not actually “heartless”? Should they call you a liar for saying it’s heartless? If not, should they let Romney say Obama is apologizing for America? If they should ding Romney, and not you, why? If they should ding you both, do you see how crazy that can get?

  31. 31
    Nellcote says:

    What is it about the word LIE? Why do reporters go out of their way to use euphemisms instead? Is there a specific meaning to the word in reporterland that’s outside of common usage?

  32. 32
    General Stuck says:

    Wingnuts in general run on whatever power there is to an image to be presented to the rest of the country and world. For them, this outward face is much more important than the truth, for truth’s sake. Though when it bolsters their image or is conducive to getting want they want, they will use truth for those designs.

    That is why they work so hard to maintain a narrative, much of it deceptive to get what they are seeking. And any deviance to that narrative from within the ranks, must be crushed without mercy. It is their political life blood, where dems and liberals ask pesky questions to what is really going on.

    And there is a narrative to deal with that as well, liberal/bad unpatriotic, lazy, commie, and the rest. They view the world as a battlefield, and not necessarily a live fire one, though they will go for that if the opportunity arises, for both profit and entertainment. long as somebody else does the killing and dieing.

    The general battlefield involves about every way they interact with the world, and a presumption of enemies everywhere, because they know not everyone will accept their bullshit narrative for what it is. So the wagons are always idling for a quick circling.

    It even involves the familial units, that become little wingnut forts in a hostile world of liberal thieves, that want what they have, and are usually extracted by taxation to give their stuff away for the greater good. hungry people and the like. They really are a collective, that have become so mentally distant to the concept of country, they themselves are all they have left.

  33. 33
    WereBear says:

    Yes, deficits are bad. But how did they occur? As I explain until I’m blue in the face, we got deficits by Bush spending the surplus, and then some, on a war under false pretenses, and tax cuts for the rich.

    We can’t do anything about the war, but we can do something about the revenue shortfall. So they aren’t lying when they scream about the deficit. They just leave out large parts of the truth.

  34. 34
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Exsqueeze me. I propose, you dispose.

  35. 35
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Roger Moore: There’s a reason for that, of course. It’s that Republicans whined so long and hard about liberal bias that they duped millions of people into believing it, among them hundreds of reporters. In an age of diminishing ratings and circulation, they fear losing business, and organized anger means less business. So they studiously avoid doing anything that might trigger organized anger.

  36. 36
    mclaren says:

    @WereBear:

    As I explain until I’m blue in the face, we got deficits by Bush spending the surplus, and then some, on a war under false pretenses, and tax cuts for the rich.

    Well, you see, we’ve got a problem right there. Because the president of the united states can’t spend dick. The president has no spending power. Zero. None. Bupkiss. Diddly.

    The congress spent the Clinton surplus. Not the fucking president.

    The congress that was made up of Democrats AND Republicans voted for crazy amounts of post-9/11 military spending and voted for the goddamn insane “security” spending that included lunacy like creating the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA and all the rest of that horseshit.

    The congress is the only branch of government in the United States with the power to spend money. So let’s get it fucking straight, okay, if we’re going to do “fact checking”?

    Get your fucking FACTS RIGHT before you start fact-checking.

  37. 37
    Anoniminous says:

    @Benjamin Franklin:

    I’m in a “Red Queen” state of mind.

    :-)

  38. 38
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Nellcote: I assume that it’s because “lie” connotes deliberate intent, which can be hard to prove — without knowing what’s in someone’s head, it’s hard to say with total confidence that he told a lie as opposed to misunderstanding or misstating something or advancing a contrary interpretation of it. Like murder, a lie has malice aforethought, journalistically speaking, IMHO.

    But you’re also right that there’s a kind of taboo logic at play with the word “lie” in journalism. My dad is that way with the word “stupid,” and my in-laws are that way with the word “hate.” It makes them extremely uncomfortable and upset, almost as much as actual obscenities would.

  39. 39
    General Stuck says:

    @mclaren:

    Actually, you little turd. Congress “appropriates” money, and the Executive branch spends it, if you want to play pedant chess. And during the Bush years, the GOP congress was no more than a rubber stamp to appropriating what ever amount Bush wanted to spend, and on whatever he wanted to spend it on.

  40. 40
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Anoniminous:

    S’okay. It seems there’s an undercurrent of nastiness here which seems unnecessary. It’s easy to lead with a left-hook when someone just sucker-punched you, and that defense mechanism is normal.

  41. 41
    stevestory says:

    Once again, I cite the Letterman/McCain incident of 2008 where Letterman caught McCain red handed in an incredibly stupid lie, and let him have it with both barrels for doing so. Letterman harped on it for weeks.

    can someone tell me more about this event?

  42. 42

    @FlipYrWhig:
    I don’t think it’s just a question of duping people. It’s also a matter of what people around here call working the ref. The Republicans bitch about the liberal media and they get their horde of flying monkeys to write nasty letters to the editor about it. Eventually, the editors get tired of the angry letters and force the reporters to back off a bit. Over time, it got worse and worse, to the point that reporters are no longer allowed to point out egregious lies.

  43. 43
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Roger Moore: Yes, I agree with the “working the refs” idea (h/t Eric Alterman), and I meant to include that when I started writing, only to end up on a different track somehow. But I also think there’s a convergence between “angry letters” and threats to the business side. Media types still claim to wear angry letters as badges of courage: “I get it from both sides, which shows I must be doing something right, har har [swig] [snort] [spit].” It’s only when the angry letters are costing money, or stand to, in a believably threatening way, that they cave.

    ETA: Veteran newspeople should, at least in theory, shrug off the angry letters. It’s the ones Charles Pierce called in his piece on this the “beancounters” who care overmuch about them, and their dread makes everything much, much worse.

  44. 44
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @lovable liberal:

    a lie in defense of Republicanism is no vice to them.

    Saw what you did. Nice.

  45. 45
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @stevestory: From memory, it was in the early stages of the banking collapse, late in the ’08 campaign. McCain was booked on Letterman, then called to pull out because he had to get to DC ASAP to deal with the looming crisis. Suspending the campaign and all that. But before he left NYC he sat for another interview, and during filming of his show Letterman saw the feed of him being carefully made up for the appearance, which he then played. Letterman didn’t like being ditched or the false sense of urgency, and kept making cracks.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @stevestory:

    Follow the magical link to: @Villago Delenda Est.

    Full explanation there.

  47. 47
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @stevestory: McCain was scheduled to be on Letterman’s show and backed out, because he had to “get back to Washington” for some meeting having to do with the financial crisis. But at the time Letterman was taping his show, McCain was basically in the next studio, giving an interview to Katie Couric. Letterman showed this as it was happening, and caustically delivered lines like “you want me to call you a cab to the airport?” Between Letterman slamming McCain (repeatedly) and Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin, that ticket was doomed.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @stevestory:

    OK, ignore that other comment. I can’t even get WP to let me send a request to nuke the stupid thing.

    It was on this thread yesterday, comment #33.

  49. 49
    mclaren says:

    @General Stuck:

    Bullshit, as usual.

    The implication of the original claim is that the president has all the power in our system of government and congress is a helpless impotent collection of wankers.

    In reality, congressmen and senators are the ones who write the bad laws and come up with the ideas for stupid wasteful agencies. Like the USA Patriot Act.

    Joe Biden wrote the original Patriot Act. He did it back in 1955 in a stupid foolish response to the Muraugh Federal Building bombing. Biden is a Democrat, by the way.

    This phony narrative that “evil Republican presidents are responsible for all the insane security theater and the crazy wasteful military/security spending post-9/11!” is a lie.

    Both Democrats and Republicans in congress are mostly responsible for the bad laws, the insane security theater, and the crazy wasteful spending post-9/11.

    Case in point: Obama proposed jacking up military spending by 8% last fiscal year while holding all other government spending constant. Congress spent more on the military than Obama wanted, re-funding wasteful garbage programs that the SecDef under Obama had defunded.

    As usual, you’re lying, and your facts are clearly and provably wrong.

  50. 50
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    It’s a special quality—I almost want to call it a talent—to be able to say with conviction things that you know are not true, and to do it over and over again until you outlast contradiction.

    There’s a name for that type of person: con artist

    What’s really disgusting is that these people are able to pull their con job and the press acts as a party to the con by not pointing out the glaring lies and falsehoods. It’s just easier for them to say that both sides do it, collect their paycheck and cash it. No hassles, no worry, just work for the weekend.

    Pablum sells, especially artificially spiced up pablum.

  51. 51
    Dick Move says:

    “The basic idea is this: It’s called a confidence game. Why? Because you give me your confidence? No. Because I give you mine.”

    House of Games

  52. 52
    JC says:

    So, what’s the strategy, to get reporters to call lies out, as lies?

    What’s the steps? Do we fan out, and then point out again and again, when Romney et al, ‘their side’, is saying something, we just untiringly tell the reporter “hey, this is untrue, why didn’t you follow up?”

    What is the strategy?

    EDIT: As was said last couple of days, the reporter is in between a rock and a hard place, half the time. Do we target both the reporters and the editors? Use a carrot and a stick?

  53. 53
    General Stuck says:

    @mclaren:

    Back to the belfry, Quasimodo. No one here believes a word you say. You marginalized your self a long time ago.

  54. 54
    General Stuck says:

    The implication of the original claim is that the president has all the power in our system of government and congress is a helpless impotent collection of wankers.

    No it wasn’t/ The implication is that presidents have a lot of say on the money congress appropriates, and none more so than during the Bush presidency, at least when they ran everything, when Iraq was started and other unpaid spending.

    It is what werebear meant and you know it. You ever had an RPR test? Maybe you should.

  55. 55
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Funny, but going back to the NYT site just now, it looks like they opened comments briefly this afternoon, in both of Brisbane’s posts, and the derision is simply unrelenting. Comments are closed again.

    Lol. Remember the bad old cowboy’n’indian movies, where the last fortress defenders poke a hat on a stick over the parapet, only to pull it back porcupined with arrows? “Looks like they’re still out there, Art!”

  56. 56
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Brachiator:

    And as others have pointed out, it is an odd reversal when comedians do a better job of pointing out the lies and obfuscations of politicians than do people who claim to be journalists.
    __
    Truth’s a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink.
    -Fool, King Lear, (brach is an archaic term for b^tch)

    True Conservatives would insist it’s just a return to the natural order, where only the Fool is allowed to contradict the King, however mistaken or mad that King might be!

  57. 57

    And as others have pointed out, it is an odd reversal when comedians do a better job of pointing out the lies and obfuscations of politicians than do people who claim to be journalists.

    Nod. I was both in awe, and dying laughing, when John Stewart was able to pair up something a person said now, about Sarah Palin, with something they’d said a few months earlier.

    Like: O’Reilly was saying that the Palin’s kid having a baby, no big deal, that’s got *nothing* to do with anyone else, no one should be talking about that kind of stuff. But, back when Britney Spears’ sister was pregnant, the parents were “pinheads”.

    When Tim Kaine was a possibility for Obama’s VP, Karl Rove was all “he was mayor of the *one hundred and fifth* largest city in America, and *hadn’t even completed a term as governor*” When Palin was picked, wow, great choice, former mayor, governor.

    Now, *that* is the kind of thing the Times should be doing, no question.

  58. 58
    Fwiffo says:

    When you hear a politician lie, there is a tendency to think “well, it’s not exactly true what they said, but there’s a grain of truth, or it’s an exaggeration or spin, or it may not be a true story but it represents some sort of truth”. It’s like with urban legends. People think they’re all built around some true elements.

    In fact, it’s a lot like urban legends. Often they have no relation to the truth at all, contain no true elements, and are complete, whole-cloth fabrications.

    People don’t expect such complete lies to be said so easily with such a straight face. So they try to analyze it like it’s spin, when really, it’s not even spin.

  59. 59

    @FlipYrWhig:
    Here’s the vid “David Letterman Reacts to John McCain Suspending Campaign.” Enjoy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjkCrfylq-E

  60. 60
    matt says:

    why is this hard? it used to be if powerful people lied they’d still be called liars. Is America too weak and corrupt to face the truth?

  61. 61
    McJulie says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    to be able to say with conviction things that you know are not true [..] It’s hard to credit it when it happens to you. [..] the work is genuinely hard for real emotional reasons.

    This is one of the things that led me see the modern right wing as functionally sociopathic. One of the noted characteristics of sociopaths is that they don’t have a problem lying. It isn’t an emotional difficulty for them, not even under the most absurd circumstances.

    You can play them a tape recording of their own voice saying something and they will still look at you, completely unperturbed, and say, “I never said that.”

    We aren’t set up socially to deal with that kind of behavior. We assume that liars feel guilty, that people who wrong others feel bad, and that people tell the truth as they see it — spin, not an outright lie.

    Sociopaths really take advantage of truisms like “both sides do it” and “the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

  62. 62
    WereBear says:

    @McJulie: We aren’t set up socially to deal with that kind of behavior. We assume that liars feel guilty, that people who wrong others feel bad, and that people tell the truth as they see it—spin, not an outright lie.

    Very true. If sociopaths had horns that were on fire, people would find it much easier to understand they are not human. In my experience, the blind and the aphasic (both very sensitive to nuance in voices) are the best at detecting insincerity in those they deal with.

  63. 63
    McJulie says:

    @lovable liberal:

    Clinton was a terrible liar. He still cared enough about the truth that he tried to grease up a few sentences that could later be parsed as technically accurate even though he meant them to deceive.

    And yet, in the right wing mind, this was THE WORST LIE EVER TOLD BY A PRESIDENT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF LIES.

  64. 64
    WereBear says:

    @McJulie: And yet, in the right wing mind, this was THE WORST LIE EVER TOLD BY A PRESIDENT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF LIES.

    This is because conservative minds do not think in “concepts.” They use “realms.”

    A liberal goes: lies are untruths. Lying about a consenting adult sex relationship is worse than lying about a war that gets thousands and thousands killed; because the lie “concept” is about the consequences of lying as much as the amount of truth that is distorted by it.

    Lies are wrong because they cause harm; the amount of harm is what is pertinent. This is why our friends tell us our new haircut is great when it is not; it is the least harm.

    A conservative goes: my side has my best interests at heart; Bush only lied us into war because he wanted to save my children’s lives! Bush is in the “trust” realm and there is very little he can do to leave it; it is not based on reality in the first place. Reality cannot dislodge him except in extreme circumstances.

    While the conservative mind puts Clinton in the “enemy realm” and anything he does makes them angry; he’s an “enemy.”

  65. 65

    Great post, especially since our President seems to be the person in our political system who tells more lies than any other major political figure.

    Oh, to just save you all some effort- I know I’m a popop face, so save the name-calling, and I know Bush is the devil and all Republicans lie, and here is a website cataloging many of the Obama lies so that you know I’m not just like most of you and incoherently babbling- http://obamalies.net/list-of-lies.

  66. 66
    Trakker says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: Really? That list is the best you can do? How do these compare to all the Bush lies about why we must invade Iraq – which resulted in thousands of American lives lost and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians?!

    However, we knew what to expect when we saw that you modified the word teacher in your name with “conservative.” You didn’t disappoint.

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