Lies, Damned Lies, And Elections
As we wait to see whether the GOP nominates the guy who claims that his health plan was nothing like Obamacare, oh no, or the guy who claims that Freddie Mac paid him $1.6 million as a historian, one thing is obvious: this election is going to pose a major challenge to the news media. How will they handle the lies problem?
I’m not optimistic.
Back in 2000, George W. Bush made a discovery of enormous consequence: you could base a whole political campaign on claims that were flatly untrue, like the claim that your big tax cuts for the wealthy went to the middle class, or the claim that diverting Social Security funds into private accounts would strengthen the system’s finances, and reporting would never point this out. That’s when I formulated my doctrine that if Bush said the earth was flat, headlines would read Views Differ on Shape of Planet.
All indications are, however, that Campaign 2012 will make Campaign 2000 look like a model of truthfulness. And all indications are that the press won’t know what to do — or, worse, that they will know what to do, which is act as stenographers and refuse to tell readers and listeners when candidates lie. Because to do otherwise when the parties aren’t equally at fault — and they won’t be — would be “biased”.