Book of the Month

acanuck's picture

What will we do for the next three weeks?

Compare and contrast.

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter (whose job it is to enact legislation): "I have a fundamental problem with any 1,000-page bills."

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart (whose job it is to make us laugh): "I've read the bill."

Stewart broke for a well-earned summer vacation last night with a skillful, informed debunking of the "death panel" claims of GOP spinmistress Betsy McCaughey. She brought along a copy of one version of the bill, quoting from it extensively to argue it contained a slippery slope toward death panels, while avoiding the actual term. Stewart's counterargument was, basically, "No, in plain English, that's not what it says." As, for example, when McCaughey tried to slip in the word "mandatory" and Stewart corrected her that it did not appear in the legislation.

Now, I don't blame Vitter and McCaughey for spreading their deceptive, fear-mongering hyperbole. They're Republicans; that's part of their job description.

But why is comedian Jon Stewart the first "journalist" I've seen tackle head-on the factuality of the "death panel" claims? I don't mean calling the allegations "questionable" or noting at the end of a he-said/he-said story that "The words 'death panel' do not appear in the bill." I mean doing what Stewart did -- inviting a key perpetrator of the myth onto his show, and calling out her lies one by one. He made it look pretty easy.

It's called journalism, folks.

 

The media have debunked the death panels -- more than 40 times over

On the other hand...

After previously debunking "death panels," NY Times portrays them as he said/she said

Not sure if that's just different reporters offering different takes or if Republicans' unwavering dedication to dishonesty has caused the Times to conclude that the death panel allegation is somehow a matter of opinion.

You're not really arguing the media have done their job, are you, Genghis? Sarah Palin tossed her hand grenade a full two weeks ago. If Media Matters can document 40 times they've debunked the allegation, that works out to three times a day.

How many major networks are there? Cable news networks? Radio chains? Wire services? Major dailies? Magazines? Bloggers? You get my drift. And how well have they done their debunking, if 45 per cent of Americans still believe the "death panel" myth? Palin's lie should have been met with such instant, universal scorn that John McCain, Michael Steele and anyone else who claims to believe the Republican Party still stands for anything would have shunned her like a leper.

Instead, we got crickets. Burke called the press "the fourth estate" for the key role it plays in how we govern ourselves. Right now, it's experiencing a massive failure of leadership.

I don't disagree with you about the state of the media, but poor journalism, at least the mainstream journalists that I assume that you're referring to, are not the core of the problem here. The majority of the 45% probably get their news from FOX, which wouldn't scorn Palin if she put on a clown mask and shot up a Wal-mart while singing "Eye of the Tiger." The majority of the 45% most likely dismiss critiques from the mainstream media as "liberal bias." And that is the problem. There is a massive, growing right wing echo chamber on TV, radio, and the web. The accusations from the conservative media grow increasingly unhinged, while McCain, Steele, and Partners pretend that nothing is amiss because they lack the guts to stand up to the right wing juggernaut. It's sadly poetic that McCain opened Palin's genie bottle...

No question where the unhinginess is coming from, Genghis. But as a once-proud member of a once-proud profession, I'm reluctant to give the MSM a pass on grounds they are not as crazy as Beck, Limbaugh or Dobbs. That should go without saying.

The right-wing talking heads are what they are, just like the Republican Party itself: averse to rational thought or even-handed debate. Just as in Congress the problem is not Republican obstinacy but Democratic cowardice and corruption, the problem in the media battle is not how loud the crazies are yelling but how mealy-mouthed and compromised the "liberal" response has been. To rephrase Edmund Burke yet again: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of crazy is for sane men to do nothing."

In the days after 9/11 (and especially in the run-up to the Iraq War), the media basically abdicated their public duty, deferring to the White House even when they knew they should not. The Bush administration has gone, but its right-wing media allies have occupied the vacated field of battle. Having compromised their journalistic principles (and losing ever more eyeballs and revenue to the internet), the MSM have no clear idea how to reclaim their role. Witness CNN turning into Fox Lite.

Sorry to be so long-winded about it but, yeah, I do believe the failure of the mainstream media is at the core of the problem. Right-wing media didn't defeat it fair and square; the MSM has abandoned ground that thousands of honorable journalists fought long and hard for over decades. Remember when a couple of dogged reporters and a principled publisher brought down an entire administration?

I have no disagreement with you about the Iraq War; the media clearly abdicated its role of questioner-in-chief. But this situation does not concern an unaccountable administration that's hiding the truth, which is when we need journalsists the most, but a right wing movement that's spreading obvious lies. I'm not saying that the media shouldn't step up, just that it won't do much good because the right wing does not care.

Moonie Betsy McCaughey's Waterloo, Fired by Corporate Death Panel
truthiest.blogspot.com/2009/08/moonie-betsy-mccaugheys-waterloo-fired.html

Betsy McCaughey, Adjunct Fellow at Moonie Hudson Institute (Hudson created Discovery Institute, the Moonie Creationist propaganda factory, and in the same Washington DC offices where Moonies created the SEPPtic Tank of Fred Singer) has been fired as Board Director at Cantel Medical Corp.

Responsible for creating the BIG LIE about govt DEATH PANELS going to kill grandma, made famous by Sarah Palin, Betsy McCaughey met her Waterloo on the Jon Stewart Show, August 21, 2009. This follows less than one week after famous Astroturfer and Chronic Liar Dick Armey met his Waterloo, and was forced out of DLA Piper PR company for similar frauds.

The END TIMES for liars has come, with big names dropping like flies. It's only a matter of time before David H. Koch does the perp walk and beats Bernie Madoff's sentence length.

Boy, I wish I had your optimism.

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