Monday, August 17, 2009

Wherein Jake Tapper and I have a conversation

So I deleted my post from last night because I believe it was rude of me to post Jake Tapper's DM. Normally I would not have made a private message public but since I couldn't reply by DM, I didn't have a way to get my answer through to him and I needed to vent. To his credit, when I pointed that out, he made it possible for us to converse privately. My disagreements with him aside, you have to give him credit for making himself so accessible to an ordinary schlub of no particular influence like me. He doesn't have anything to gain by that.

To elaborate a bit on the reason I blitzed Jake with tweets about his guest list in the first place, I was agitated after a visit with my Dad and sister yesterday. We had a heated discussion about health care reform and I found one thing my Dad said to me rather alarming. I told him the anti-reformers were lying to him and he said he saw elected GOPers saying those very things on TV. Now my Dad is a smart man and it's not easy to fool him. But, being from a different era, he obviously trusted that the GOPers wouldn't be allowed to lie on air.

This is the root of the problem with he said/she said journalism. While there has been some pushback by the media lately, the problem is that they treat the liars as credible in any way and too often the pushback is limited to a single spot, while outrageous lies are allowed to be repeated endlessly. So, for instance, you have one commentator thoroughly debunking Betsy McGaughey but only in one segment. Then she's invited back later, on the same network, presented as an expert and allowed to repeat her falsehoods all over again without challenge by a different host.

In the latest replays of this dynamic a Grassley spokesman admits he doesn't really believe in death panels. It was buried deep in a WaPo article where most people won't see it. But they've seen him repeat the lie hundreds of times on TV.
Similarly, Missouri GOPer Roy Blunt was called out by his local paper for lying about rationing of health care in other countries with real socialized medicine. He promised never to do it again, but it's too late. The TV won't be blasting the admission 24/7 so the lie is still out there, spreading, while the truth remains buried in odd corners where few of the misinformed will ever see it.

This is what I was trying to get through to Jake Tapper yesterday. To be fair he pushes back more than most of his peers, but still, when the media shows deference to liars, gives them a microphone and fails to challenge them vigorously and repeatedly -- they're just as culpable as those who spread the lies. If it's rude to point that out -- so be it. It's too important to ignore.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Kathy said...

Great point about the media giving deference to liars and in turn being culpable when trusting people believe those lies, Libby. There are myriad reasons why the newspaper industry struggles to survive, but I think the fact they promote lies and sensationalism over fact-checking and truth has to be a contributor.

I seldom read a policy/political article without turning to other sources to verify what I just read. That's not because I love using the term paper writing skills I learned in high school 40+ years ago, it's because I can't trust the media anymore!

I feel for your dad. He's probably feeling a bit overwhelmed to learn that the journalists who followed in Cronkite and Murrow's footsteps have turned the craft into fiction writing - and not even good fiction at that. :-(

6:39:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

My Dad's disgusted with the news. He barely watches it anymore because it's so sensationalized. Tells me he watches mostly History Channel these days. But if the lies are penetrating even when he pays almost no attention to it, then it leaves me feeling overwhelmed by how destructive it all is. I think he takes it more in stride than I do.

8:08:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Excelent post. ABC's This Week put freaking Michelle Malkin on the air 2 weeks ago. I mean, WTF??

Rick Perlstein nailed it yesterday:

"The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America's flora. Only now, it's being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest."

I had a few Tweets with jake tapper over the weekend as well. I think he's seriously concerned or he wouldn't waste his time talking with us.

9:10:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Yeah, that Pearlstein piece was dead on and I am becoming quite fond of Jake, because I think he not only gets it, but is taking some responsibilty for it, to the extent that he can. Sadly, too many of his peers don't at all or pretend not to.

12:16:00 AM  

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