Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Mark Twain said, "A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is getting its shoes on." A big public lie is especially fleet of foot when the media do not challenge it. Paul Krugman's Tuesday column in the New York Times reminds us that in the first Gore/Bush debate, Bush told a series of whoppers, but the media barely noticed:
[A]s Adam Clymer pointed out yesterday on the Op-Ed page of The Times, front-page coverage of the 2000 debates emphasized not what the candidates said but their "body language." After the debate, the lead stories said a lot about Mr. Gore's sighs, but nothing about Mr. Bush's lies. And even the fact-checking pieces "buried inside the newspaper" were, as Mr. Clymer delicately puts it, "constrained by an effort to balance one candidate's big mistakes" - that is, Mr. Bush's lies - "against the other's minor errors."
The result of this emphasis on the candidates' acting skills rather than their substance was that after a few days, Mr. Bush's defeat in the debate had been spun into a victory.
During the [Thursday] debate, Mr. Bush will try to cover for [his] dismal [foreign policy] record with swagger, and with attacks on his opponent. Will the press play Karl Rove's game by, as Mr. Clymer puts it, confusing political coverage with drama criticism, or will it do its job and check the candidates' facts?

Under the heading "More Lies Countenanced" is the latest Gallup poll, which reports a 55 to 42 percent Bush lead. Baloney. Of course Bush will lead if 44 percent of the interviewees are Republicans as opposed to 33 percent Democrats. But the newspapers quoting this poll don't point out the inherent lie--a deliberate one, no doubt, since the Gallup CEO is a GOP contributor.
Liberal Bias in the Media my sweet patootie!
Furthermore, the truth has trouble lacing its shoes when the only Town Forum debate has effectively gotten its laces tied in knots. To begin with, the participants in the forum will be picked by the Gallup organization. Questions will be picked in advance. Anyone who deviates from the written question will have his microphone cut off. Unlike past forums, this one will not allow follow up questions. Alan Schroeder, in an op-ed piece in the Monday Post-Dispatch, said:
Debates are not--and are not supposed to be--partisan rallies. They are the one element of the campaign that belongs to the people, not to the candidates or the media. Presidential debates serve as a kind of national job interview, with citizens screening the applicants and deciding whom to hire. Imagine a job-seeker who will agree to an interview only if he determines the ground rules and picks the interviewers. No employer in America would hire him.
Sometimes fighting Republican propaganda is akin to those dreams where you're being chased and your feet won't move. If we could just get our laces tied and doubleknotted, we could leave those liars in the dust.

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