Combatting the Liars

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TPM Reader AS vents …

Obama isn’t saying the right thing. He should be saying, “Stop lying.” Or maybe he should send Biden out to say it. That’s probably the best thing.

I’m not basing this on some misguided sense that being aggressive is what’s required. Rather, I’m basing it on how the MSM works. They report what politicians say. And they don’t fact check them. That’s the system — maybe you don’t like it. I don’t like it either. But it’s not changing any time soon.

That’s a key point, so I’m going to repeat it. All the broadcast MSM does is report what politicians say. They don’t fact check them. Afterwards, they have blowhards sit around in panels and have disingenuous spin-meister discussions about whether or not what was said is playing well with the general public.

But they don’t have real journalists who pour over data, or who ask questions, or who talk to economists, or whatever. instead, they have the blowhards on TV. (OK, some of them do have journalists — but those guys don’t dominate the coverage. The blowhards do.)

If the Republicans are lying — and they are — we have to call them on it. If we don’t, no one will. And by “we”, I mean our politicians. They have to say, “Stop lying.” If they say that, the blowhards will say, “Do people like it when the president calls his opponents liars?” And after that, they’ll say, “Is it a lie to say that there will be death panels?”

This is exactly what Kerry did when he got swiftboated. The whole, “This is so stupid, and so insulting, I won’t even dignify it with a response,” response. It’s why he lost. If you don’t dignify something with a response, the other side controls the entire
discussion.

We know how the MSM works. Tim Russert responded to all of the criticism he got by explaining it, over and over again. “I just let these guys talk. I ask them questions, and I let them talk. The public can judge their responses.” I know that sucks, and he should
have done more. But it’s not like we don’t know what the score is. We have to be realistic about the way things work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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