Media Fail!

Dan Froomkin explains:

How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign

Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, photo by Kevin Featherly

So what is the biggest story?  The fact that the Tea Party dominated Republican Party is a train wreck.

Post-mortems of contemporary election coverage typically include regrets about horserace journalism, he-said-she-said stenography, and the lack of enlightening stories about the issues.
But according to longtime political observersThomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, campaign coverage in 2012 was a particularly calamitous failure, almost entirely missing the single biggest story of the race: Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.
Mann and Ornstein are two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital’s media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

So why does the media do this?  The editors are terrified of being labeled as biased.  Of course as a result their reporting becomes biased when they ignore the outright lies and detachment from reality of the Republicans.

“I can’t recall a campaign where I’ve seen more lying going on — and it wasn’t symmetric,” said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who’s been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, “but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”
Lies from Republicans generally and standardbearer Mitt Romney in particular weren’t limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party’s most central campaign principles — that federal spending doesn’t create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit — willfully disregarded the truth.
“It’s the great unreported big story of American politics,” Ornstein said.

Democracy is in trouble when the press is unable to do it’s job of informing the electorate.  The broken media is a greater threat to this country than al-Qaeda.

Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal

         

Author: RON BEASLEY

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37 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post Ron and link to the Dan Froomkin column. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have laid out and documented what the Republicans have been doing for quite some time but even the moderate Republicans here continue expanding on (and defending) the Republicans lies… Denying even the possibility of in it ever happening.

    Examples of that denial are sure to follow…

    Edit to add: Let me be the first, “The Democrats do it too… and probably worse!” :)

  2. Absolutely right Ron. This IS the biggest story and has been for some time. The “media” has been tip-toeing around it like members of a royal court pretending the emperor’s new clothes are stylish and up to date. Of course GOP/TP folks love this negligence as it helps give them undeserved credibility. We are not served well by people who are afraid to speak truth to power for fear of offending. Btw, the Mann/Orstein analysis was discussed here briefly when it came out, but was (predictibly) dismissed by people who didn’t want to believe the truth of it.

  3. I guess cover-ups aren’t what they used to be. The moaning about the tea party tugging the GOP to the right has been going on daily for two years.

  4. Dr. J – Any comment on the actual point of the post… Full-Time Republican Lies or was your comment simply intended to segue the comment section away from the valid points the article makes?

    I’d understand if that was your motive because the fact that the Republican Party has intentionally lied to the American People thinking it wouldn’t be noticed or called is undeniable.

    The moaning about the tea party tugging the GOP to the right has been going on daily for two years.

    It’s called “NEWS COVERAGE” Dr. J or are you implying that the tea party hasn’t tugged the GOP to the right?

    Again, I’d rather you address to the main point of the article but your misleading comment needed to be questioned.

  5. If it’s called “news coverage,” Steve, that sort of belies the title, doesn’t it? I took the lack of news coverage, rather than the Republican Lies, to be the main point of the post. From my POV that’s a curious impression, because the media coverage was absolutely relentless.

    If you’d like to segue to the Republican Lies, trot out a few and we can discuss them.

    The OP mentioned two: that federal spending doesn’t create jobs, and that lower taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit. On a very literal reading, the first is clearly inaccurate in the sense that when the government hires someone, it creates a job. But context and the details matter: is it a net new job? Does it grow the economy in the long term? I think it depends.

    Could lower taxes on the rich create jobs and lower the deficit–that is, boost economic growth? I’d call this hotly debated, but no one seems to know the truth about what government policy makes the economy grow, so I wouldn’t call it a lie.

  6. I took the lack of news coverage, rather than the Republican Lies, to be the main point of the post.

    Well, if that’s the case J here’s the 85% of the post that you must have missed:

    Namely, the radical right-wing, off-the-rails lurch of the Republican Party, both in terms of its agenda and its relationship to the truth.
    .
    … two longtime centrist Washington fixtures who earlier this year dramatically rejected the strictures of false equivalency that bind so much of the capital’s media elite and publicly concluded that GOP leaders have become “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
    .
    “I can’t recall a campaign where I’ve seen more lying going on — and it wasn’t symmetric,” said Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who’s been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, “but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top.”
    .
    Lies from Republicans generally and standard bearer Mitt Romney in particular weren’t limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party’s most central campaign principles — that federal spending doesn’t create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit — willfully disregarded the truth.
    .
    “It’s the great unreported big story of American politics,” Ornstein said.

    That’s quite a POV you’re sharing with us J… I imagine the Republican Snake Oil Salesmen are proud of your interpretation of, and conclusions regarding, this post.

  7. Well, Steve, I guess I take a different gist from the post than you. That has apparently angered you, so I apologize.

  8. Thank you Steve
    I usually ignore FOX consuming trolls.

  9. That’s quite a POV you’re sharing with us J… I imagine the Republican Snake Oil Salesmen are proud of your interpretation of, and conclusions regarding, this post.

    Wow Steve as soon as someone disagrees out come the thinly veiled personal attacks. Lets give you another target. I disagree with the OP and here is why. One there has been plenty of press on the Tea Party and it’s effect on the RP so the idea that it an “untold story” seems strange. Maybe people did’t care as much as some believe they should or were not as horrified by the evil Tea Party as others, but the press gave it plenty of play. Two, I think both candidates lied their asses off. Obama was better at being technically true while totally misleading but neither seemed particularly concerned about giving any accurate info just in winning. I know, I know, your lair is the good guy so it doesn’t count but honestly to me it just looks like he was better at lawyer ball not that he had anymore concern for truth.

  10. Thank you Steve
    I usually ignore FOX consuming trolls.

    So wait if someone disagrees with you OP then not only are they a “FOX consuming troll” but you feel it’s appropriate to insult them while thanking someone else for verbally attacking them? And you think it’s only the Republicans that “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

    Here’s a tip if you want a conversation insulting everyone who disagrees with you is not a good way to start,

  11. Frankly I have little patience for all the knee-jerk defenses of GOP/TP transgressions – this includes worries about offending sensibilities that are flawed and/or disingenuous to begin with. The truth is more important than compromising standards which have already been compromised into the ground. What passes for conservative leadership in this country today should be ashamed of itself – as should a complicit and lazy media culture in general.

  12. Did I read that right, Zephyr? To paraphrase: you don’t consider people who dissent from attacks on the GOP (or in this case attacks on the media for not attacking the GOP more zealously) worthy of civil treatment?

  13. Bringing to the attention of others the fact that the Republicans have added “Lying” to their list of acceptable tactics is NOT an attack on the GOP… It’s called reporting facts AND when the media doesn’t report the facts they have failed, hence the title of Ron’s piece, “Media Fail!” It seems some find that a hard concept to grasp… Most don’t.

    Some chose to defend Republicans for everything they do and when there is no defense, such as in this case, they try to distract by tossing out the “you’re attacking me” ploy or play the “The Democrats do it too… and probably worse!”. I warned of in the first comment of this thread… And others have shown my warning to be justified.

    I really can’t understand a mindset that refuses to allow someone to admit when they, or their ‘side’, are wrong. If you can’t admit something is broken or wrong how do you think you can fix it.

    I shutter thinking what the inside of their garage must look like. :)

  14. I really can’t understand a mindset that refuses to allow someone to admit when they, or their ‘side’, are wrong. If you can’t admit something is broken or wrong how do you think you can fix it.

    Who isn’t “admitting” here? I said I think both sides cared more about winning than telling the truth and that the press covered the Tea Parties effect on the GOP quite heavily. What am I failing to admit?

  15. Some chose to defend Republicans for everything they do and when there is no defense, such as in this case, they try to distract by tossing out the “you’re attacking me” ploy or play the “The Democrats do it too… and probably worse!”. I warned of in the first comment of this thread… And others have shown my warning to be justified.

    There is no logic here. You pick out something both parties do and then “prove” it by insulting people and “see they did what I said!”. So the Dems do lie and you do attack people. Pointing those facts out not only doesn’t add to you base theory it shows how weak your debate is by needing to use such garbage to try and make your point.

    Here is what I think is the basic argument.
    1)the Tea Party has infiltrated the GOP and radicalized it and it has gotten little press. And my answer is I think the Tea Party issue has gotten lots of press. Has the party radicalized? Maybe to some extent but I do think the GOP had swung to far in the opposite direction with the Big Government conservatives. Any correction was bound to go a little bit to the far side. So? Better that than the other option. For that I can just vote Dem.

    2) The GOP now uses lying as a political tactic. Fair enough tho it would be just like a democrat to say that then leave out that no one seems at all concerned with the truth Dem or GOP. By that I mean while I think you might be able to get examples that show the Romney campaign lied slightly more than the Obama campaign I think in large part that’s because the Obama campaign was better at misleading without actually lying. Telling me that is somehow “different” than the GOP, well whatever gets you thru the day but I don’t buy it.

    So we have those two issues addressed. Now I don’t expect to change any minds but I do wait to see if my points are addressed as I addressed yours or will there just be arguments about whats wrong with people who think like that, no your wrong, evil evil evil, or whatever.

  16. “If you’d like to segue to the Republican Lies, trot out a few and we can discuss them.”

    Sure thing Dr. J. Lets start with one of my favorites. The “You didn’t build that” theme. In a speech where Obama was clearly talking about the infrastructure he had just mentioned a few lines earlier, the GOP seized upon the fact that if you willfully mis-interpret what he said it could be taken as meaning small business owners didn’t build their businesses. Even after this was pointed out in the media that this was CLEARLY not what Obama said, the GOP ran with it. And not just a few ignoramuses either. This gross mis-interpretation of what Obama said was repeated all the time and even made one of the themes of the national convention. Let me repeat that. A known lie was made a theme of the national convention. THAT many people in the GOP are happily willing to ignore an easily verifiable truth if it doesn’t fit with their talking points. That is who the GOP is today. And there are more and more.

  17. “The editors are terrified of being labeled as biased”

    Liberal journalists brought much of this on themselves.

    “The Corruption Of Journo-list

    JUL 20 2010, 2:01 AM ET
    The latest revelations from Journo-list are deeply depressing to me. What’s depressing is the way in which liberal journalists are not responding to events in order to find out the truth, but playing strategic games to cover or not cover events and controversies in order to win a media/political war.

    The far right is right on this: this collusion is corruption. It is no less corrupt than the comically propagandistic Fox News and the lock-step orthodoxy on the partisan right in journalism – but it is nonetheless corrupt. Having a private journalistic list-serv to debate, bring issues to general attention, notice new facts seems pretty innocuous to me. But this was an attempt to corral press coverage and skew it to a particular outcome.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/dai.....st/184567/

  18. How about the one where the GOP, and by GOP I mean the people who run and the conservative mouthpieces like Rush and at FOX, like to pretend that Obama was the first president to have a trillion $ deficit, and that he has exploded the deficit. This is clearly not the case, is easily verifiable, and yet is a common talking point in conservative circles. In fact, the deficit has been going down under Obama. Not something you hear on FOX, in fact, the exact opposite is implied at every opportunity.

    Or one of my personal favorites, that Obama is “the most divisive President in history”. This one is laughable. It is the GOP who have clearly been the divisive ones. They state that their #1 priority is to keep Obama to a single term. They sign a pledge to never raise taxes. They refuse to budge on any of their key issues despite the fact Obama and the dems have made proposals that give up ground on many democratic key issues. Then they turn around and try to tell me its Obama that is the problem? Frankly I am insulted that they think I’m that stupid and gullible.

  19. Late to the kangaroo court, but generally what EElis said. And, no, I’m not going to go into specifics today, so don’t start with the personalized “questions”.

  20. Both candidates had to live with poor word choices.

    “President Barack Obama says that he regrets the syntax — but not the meaning — of his now controversial “You didn’t build that” comment.”
    http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/224355#

    “CANDY CROWLEY: ROMNEY WAS ‘RIGHT IN THE MAIN’ ON BENGHAZI, BUT ‘PICKED THE WRONG WORD’ IN DEBATE”
    http://www.theblaze.com/storie.....in-debate/

  21. I really can’t understand a mindset that refuses to allow someone to admit when they, or their ‘side’, are wrong.

    One more try, Steve. The GOP is not my side. I’m not a member of the party, and I didn’t vote for Romney. I don’t have an opinion on whether their lies in this election were especially egregious, and I haven’t argued the point either way.

    What I said was I thought the GOP had received plenty of heat from the media. And after you attacked me for not addressing the rest of the post, I tried to offer an opinion on something I felt I could form an opinion about: whether a couple specific claims could be called lies. That apparently wasn’t what you were looking for either, and you went off on another attack.

    My best guess at this point is you’re looking for a denouncement of the GOP in as strong tones as the articles Ron cites, and you’ll interpret anything short of that as defending the GOP. So I’m just going to apologize again, because the truth is I wasn’t following the rhetoric from either side very closely, much less trying to keep a lie tally. So I don’t have strong feelings on the topic and don’t have a denouncement in me. And I will ask you to hear that as the moderate position it is rather than shilling for the GOP.

  22. A known lie was made a theme of the national convention. THAT many people in the GOP are happily willing to ignore an easily verifiable truth if it doesn’t fit with their talking points.

    Fair enough, Slam. The quote was indeed taken out of context and was not what Obama meant. It’s not unreasonable to call it a lie. At the very least the GOP might deserve an award for Most Brazen Bad-Faith Use of a Sound Bite. And they got widely criticized for it in the media.

    It doesn’t make my blood boil the way it apparently does yours. Politicians routinely twist each other’s sound bites and make as much hay with them as they can, so this strikes me as just business as usual.

  23. Dr. J, my comments are pretty clear and unambiguous. No “paraphrasing” required. I have respect for traditional republicans (having followed politics for 40+ years) but this current crop is unworthy of the same. Accountability has (finally) come knocking and isn’t likely to be denied.

  24. EEllis, when you make the false equivalence claim that both sides do it just as much as the other you are defending the GOP’s lies. http://goo.gl/EW7AG

  25. Jim, I looked at the link you provided. I had been periodically visiting PolitiFact during the campaign and felt I could trust it as a source since it proudly displays “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” as part of its banner. I had noticed during the campaign that the number of “facts” that were checked for Obama(452) was higher than for Romney(202), and thought the percentages could be skewed by selectively fact checking Romney. Bias of omission is difficult if not impossible to prove. However, I just looked at their “Pants on Fire” category and noticed something interesting…several items repeated…again…and again.

    “Says Barack Obama began his presidency “with an apology tour.”

    “Barack Obama began his presidency “with an apology tour.”

    “President Obama “went around the world and apologized for America.”

    “A few months into office, (President Barack Obama) traveled around the globe to apologize for America.”

    So the “Apology Tour” was counted four times.

    “We’re only inches away from no longer being a free economy.”

    “We’re inches away from no longer having a free economy.”

    “We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy.”

    The “free economy” was counted 3 times.

    I looked at Obama’s “Pants on Fire” and saw no duplications. Due to time constraints, I can’t go through all of the categories, but this casts serious doubt on the legitimacy of their accounting method.

  26. So the “Apology Tour” was counted four times.

    Are you implying that if you tell the same lie 1000 times you’ve only lied once?

    It seems the Republicans are having all their “I am not a Republican” cohorts running an apology tour of their own… The “I’m sorry if you think all the lies we told were lies” Apology Tour

  27. SteveK, Because I doubt they counted the number of times he repeated his true statements, it should only be counted once. Either you count each statement regardless of category each time it is uttered and develop your statistics based on that, or you count each statement once and based your statistics on that. But you can’t mix.

  28. EEllis, when you make the false equivalence claim that both sides do it just as much as the other you are defending the GOP’s lies.

    BS. First it hasn’t been show that there is a false equivalency and second I haven’t said that both sides do it the same amount. What I said was it was clear neither side cared about facts and truth. If because the Obama camp was better able to parse words and so lied a bit less it doesn’t make me think the slightest bit better of them, or Romney for that matter.

    And again there is a refusal to comment on the points and communicate about the issues. Substituting personal attacks for substantive debate. why am I not surprised.

  29. BS. First it hasn’t been show that there is a false equivalency and second I haven’t said that both sides do it the same amount.

    Yeah, right, you didn’t say it but you’ve implied it in every comment in this thread.

    As for your ‘personal attack’ BS, that’s BS and it simply highlights the weakness of your faux outrage.

    Somebody please call a Whambulance for Mr. Ellis.

  30. Look I don’t imply. I want to say it I do so. I don’t know if the lies are equivalent and honestly don’t care because I think it has been shown that neither side cares the least about honesty. You are whining about which pig is the dirtiest and it’s about as absurd as it gets. And thanks for throwing another personal attack in there just to cement the absurdity.

  31. “OMG I’ve been attacked again… And thank you for voting Republican… It’s what god would want you to do.” You don’t mind if I quote you do you Ellis.

    PS – Disney’s “The Kid” should be required viewing for both “Nutters” & “Lefties”… they’d both benefit.

  32. Edit to add: It’s concrete not cement. Cement on its own has no strength.

  33. EEllis, I empathize with your trying to be reasonable in the face of personal attacks.

  34. “OMG I’ve been attacked again… And thank you for voting Republican… It’s what god would want you to do.” You don’t mind if I quote you do you Ellis.

    I wouldn’t mind if you would do so but one, I’m not republican, and two I’m not religious. But go ahead and keep acting like a third grader who cannot make an argument without insults. Why do I keep bringing the insults up. Because I feel your inability to make your case without your petty comments shows either how week your case is or how intellectually limited you are personally. Either way I think it’s valid and of course I do like to point out violations of policy here however politically screwed enforcement of that policy is.

    It’s concrete not cement. Cement on its own has no strength.

    And no I meant cement as in to make a relationship, idea, etc. stronger or more certain. I got to say the idea of you correcting me….. well I got a laugh out of that.

  35. No. 1 – Each and every one of your talking points is a Republican talking point.. You must be one of those new ERBN’s (pronounced Urban) – Everything Republican But Name.

    No. 2 – Nor am I that’s why I wrote god in small case.

    … acting like a third grader
    … how intellectually limited you are personally

    No. 3 – Who’s insulting who here Bucko? :)

  36. Each and every one of your talking points is a Republican talking point.. You must be one of those new ERBN’s (pronounced Urban) – Everything Republican But Name.

    BS. I didn’t start here with talking points and never used anything that I think could be classified as one. Is saying the Tea Party and it’s effect on the GOP has gotten a lot of press coverage a talking point? Give me a break. Just because Sure I’ve commented on your absolute lack of ability to any valid points in this thread but that doesn’t indicate my political affiliation. Any objective person could shoot down everything you have posted.

    Who’s insulting who here Bucko?

    I think after you having posted insults only for half a page I’m allowed to make a comment about it. Ignoring the topic just to insult is acting like a third grader and if you dislike it then stop acting like it. As to your other example, In general people who fall back on insults are either unable/willing to make their points or to intellectually limited to do so. I don’t know which one it is in your case but saying so shouldn’t be a big deal. You’re like a flasher who is whining because someone called your penis small. Don’t show it off if you don’t want people to laugh at it.

  37. This conversation is hilarious.

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