There was an interesting pair of articles recently – one by Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post and one by Michael A. Cohen in the Boston Globe – about how the Republican Presidential campaigns are increasingly “fact free” and filled with conscious and deliberate misstatements. In other words, lies.
Moderates in the political spectrum might be inclined to believe that the misstatements on the Republican and Democratic side even out. They make some, and we make some, and it all evens out in the wash. But it ain’t so.
Let’s begin with Fox News, whose slogan – “Fair and Balanced” – was the essence of propaganda. Anyone who has ever analyzed Fox News knows that they are the least fair, the least balanced major news outlet that has ever broadcast in the United States. I hate to make any analogies to NAZI Germany – a path through which one can quickly arrive in rhetorical quicksand – but the Fair and Balanced slogan is worthy of Joseph Göbbels. Really. Just say it often enough with enough conviction, and people will believe you.
And same for the Republican candidates. As Cillizza and Cohen point out:
- Donald Trump has consistently claimed that there were Mulsims cheering in New Jersey when the Twin Towers came down on September 11. It just ain’t so. There were some Muslims cheering in the occupied Palestinian territories, but those territories aren’t New Jersey.
- Ted Cruz has claimed that Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people at the Planned Parenthood clinic in New Jersey, is a “transgendered leftist activist.”
- Carly Fiorina has been all over the Planned Parenthood story, claiming among other things, in the September Republican debate that the attack video included a “fully formed fetus” on the table, “its heart beating, its legs kicking” while someone says “we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Which was a complete lie.
There is nothing comparable on the Democratic side, even if Hillary Clinton has been known to stretch the truth now and then. Compared to her Republican brethren, Hillary has been a model of restraint, decorum, and yes, truthfulness this time around.
And that’s saying something.
So don’t say you weren’t warned. You were warned here.