Saturday Morning ReadsPosted: September 15, 2012
The political news this past week has been so strange and disturbing that I’ve begun to feel as if I’ve gone through the looking glass into some alternate reality. For years we’ve dealt with a press corps that refuses to deal in facts and will only report what one group of politicians say on the one hand, and contrast it with what another group of politicians say on the other hand, refusing to evaluate the truth value of what they are reporting.
But suddenly in 2012, we are dealing with a presidential candidate who seemingly has no scruples whatsoever. Mitt Romney lies blatantly and constantly, believing that he can get away with it in this media culture of false equivalency. And his running mate, Paul Ryan, also has a troubled relationship with the truth, although he isn’t quite as practiced a liar as Romney is.
James Fallows has been chronicling the way the media deals with what he calls the “post truth” era in politics. A few mainstream reporters have also begun trying to confront the blatant lying head on. Surprisingly, Norah O’Donnell, whom lefties have often mocked in the past, has been a standout. She successfully confronted Paul Ryan on blaming President Obama for spending cuts that Ryan voted for. And yesterday, she did it again with Romney surrogate Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite: Norah O’Donnell Teaches TV Journos Another Lesson With Rob Portman Stuffage
Former Chief White House Correspondent and newly-minted CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell has been on fire lately, holding a veritable clinic on how to interview dishonest politicians that her mainstream media colleagues would do well to study. In the latest example of this, O’Donnell abandoned the current media fashion of ignoring lies (or presenting the truth as just another counter-argument), and pursued Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R-OH) disinformation on the recent violence in Libya like a Terminator with OCD.
What O’Donnell has been doing recently shouldn’t seem as remarkable as it is, but good old-fashioned feet to the fire followup is a sadly dying art, especially in television news. Interviewers either let lies and misinformation slip by because they need to hit all their prepared questions before time’s up, or because they’re numb to post-truth politics, or they present the facts in asterisk fashion before moving on to allow more lies to spew forth.
Portman completely twisted the timeline of events surrounding attacks on the embassy in Cairo and on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He actually claimed that Romney had made his statement the U.S. embassy in Cairo had issued a statement after the attacks saying “We apologize,” and that Romney’s Tuesday night statement had been made before the violent attacks in Libya. O’Donnell point out the falsehoods, and Portman attempted to continue lying. O’Donnell kept at it, and Portman came out looking the fool. You can watch the video at the link.
After describing O’Donnell’s performance, Christopher concludes:
O’Donnell’s performance here should be in network news training videos, because the only way to get these people to stop lying is to put up a lie stop sign. For awhile, of course, every interview would look like this one, with the subject being stuck on the one lie for the whole interview, but eventually, they’d have to either start fessing up when they’re busted, or (heaven forbid) just start telling the truth.
Clearly, Republicans have learned they can blatantly lie to the media a get away with it; now Romney and Ryan have raised the lying to a new level. Will other reporters begin to point it out, as O’Donnell has? For the sake of our democracy, I hope so.
In contrast, I urge you to read the full transcript of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Mitt Romney yesterday. Stephanopoulos half-heartedly pushed back on some of Romney’s lies, Romney just ran right over Stephanopoulos’ weak protests. There are points in this interview where Romney makes long rambling statements that make absolutely no sense, and gets away with it!
Romney actually claims that the White House agreed with his his initial statement on Tuesday night, that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had apologized to terrorists for a muslim-bashing internet video!
Here is the Embassy’s statement, posted on its website hours before any protests began.
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Now Romney’s Tuesday night statement, released after it was known that there was an ongoing violent attack on the Consulate in Benghazi with one American death already reported.
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
And of course Romney doubled down the next day at his infamous smirk-filled Wednesday morning press conference, by attacking and lying about President Obama even after it was known that four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stephens, had been murdered. Now let’s look at how Romney tried to wriggle out of responsibility for his ugly remarks in his ABC interview:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, there has been quite a controversy in the last couple of days, since those killings in Libya, the chaos in the Middle East. And we heard some of that at your event today. President Obama has stepped in as well. He said your comments on Tuesday night displayed a tendency of yours to “shoot first and aim later.” What’s your response?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, early on, with the developments in Egypt, the embassy there put out a statement which stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But before the protestors had breached the wall.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, it first went up before they breached the wall. But it stayed up. And they reiterated the statement after they breached the wall, even after some of the tragedy in Libya, the statement stayed up. And I thought the statement was inappropriate and pointed that out. And of course, the White House also thought it was inappropriate. But of course, now our attention is focused on the loss of life and the tragedy of having a remarkable ambassador and diplomatic members, have their lives taken. This is a great sadness and tragedy for America.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said the statement showed a tendency to sympathize with those who waged the attacks. And what the statement seems to be is condemning the continuing efforts of individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. Where do they show sympathy for those who waged the attacks? It was done before the attacks happened.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, the statement as I indicated stayed on the website for some 14-15 hours. The statement was reiterated after they had breached the sovereignty of the embassy.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Coupled with a condemnation–
MITT ROMNEY: Even– and even–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: –of the attacks, though.
MITT ROMNEY: And even after the killing in Libya. And by the way what I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t say that it was showing sympathy for the attackers.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no regrets?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I indicated, at the time, and continue to that what was said at that time was not appropriate, that they continued to have that. They reiterated the statement after the then breaching of the grounds. And I think that was wrong. And by the way my statement was the same point, which was that the White House said they distanced themself from the statement. I also thought it was an inappropriate statement. I made the statement– my point at the same time, I think, the White House did. So I think we said about the same thing there. I just thought the statement was wrong.
Is it just me, or does Mitt Romney sound like a gibbering idiot? Yet the Stephanopoulos allows him to spew his nonsense at will after a few weak efforts to point out fallacies. Seriously, does Romney expect people to believe this garbage? Stephanopoulos should have said something like that–slightly more tactfully, of course, but emphatically. Please read the entire disgusting thing, if you can stand it. And then cleanse your palate with this hilarious post by Sarah Proud and Tall at Balloon Juice.
Here are a few more links to get you started on your weekend reading:
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Judge throws out Walker’s union bargaining law.
Smoking Gun: Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch
Houston Chronicle: US scrambles to rush spies, drones to Libya
Don’t miss this one! Wayne Barrett at The Nation: Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man
Politico: Pennsylvania poll: Obama up by 11