Monday, May 31, 2004


... is apparently the new 'mendacity'.

Read today's WashPost story, headlined: From Bush, Unprecedented Negativity. The subhead is a little more specific: Scholars Say Campaign Is Making History With Often-Misleading Attacks

What follows the headlines is an example of 'truth-squading' of the campaign ads, and frankly, the authors have to twist into all kinds of shapes to avoid having to say l-i-e. For example:

The charges were all tough, serious -- and wrong, or at least highly misleading. Kerry did not question the war on terrorism, has proposed repealing tax cuts only for those earning more than $200,000, supports wiretaps, has not endorsed a 50-cent gasoline tax increase in 10 years, and continues to support the education changes, albeit with modifications.
and further:
But Bush has outdone Kerry in the number of untruths, in part because Bush has leveled so many specific charges (and Kerry has such a lengthy voting record), but also because Kerry has learned from the troubles caused by Al Gore's misstatements in 2000. "The balance of misleading claims tips to Bush," Jamieson said, "in part because the Kerry team has been more careful."
and yet still further:
One constant theme of the Bush campaign is that Kerry is "playing politics" with Iraq, terrorism and national security. Earlier this month, Bush-Cheney Chairman Marc Racicot told reporters in a conference call that Kerry suggested in a speech that 150,000 U.S. troops are "universally responsible" for the misdeeds of a few soldiers at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- a statement the candidate never made. In that one call, Racicot made at least three variations of this claim and the campaign cut off a reporter who challenged him on it.
and "The campaign ads, which are most scrutinized, have produced a torrent of misstatements. " and
"Senator Kerry," Cheney said, "has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. He said, quote, 'I don't want to use that terminology.' In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and more of a law enforcement operation."

But Kerry did not say what Cheney attributes to him. The quote Cheney used came from a March interview with the New York Times, in which Kerry used the phrase "war on terror." When he said "I don't want to use that terminology," he was discussing the "economic transformation" of the Middle East -- not the war on terrorism.

and ultimately:
On Wednesday, a Bush memo charged that Kerry "led the fight against creating the Department of Homeland Security." While Kerry did vote against the Bush version multiple times, it is not true that he led the fight, but rather was one of several Democrats who held out for different labor agreements as part of its creation. Left unsaid is that, in the final vote, Kerry supported the department -- which Bush initially opposed.
Why is it so hard, when someone is spinning you a lie, for reporters to accurately report: 'the campaign spokesman lied when he said...'? Calling something a misquote, a mischaracterization of someone's position, an 'untruth', an 'exaggeration' and all the other weasel-words at their disposal effectively allows the propagator of the lies to escape any responsibility.

Come on, guys (and I use 'guys' in the gender-neutral sense here)in the newsrooms - as long as you let the campaigns continue to get away with it, with perhaps a wrist-slapping 'mendacity' or two, it's gonna get a hell of a lot worse. How low can they go? If the past is prologue, pretty low. Hold your nose as the summer progresses.


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