Monday, September 3, 2012

Fact checkers do--or don't--tend to their knitting?

The Republican war on fact checkers was predictable, because given what the fact checkers have been saying after the Republican convention, either Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and their cronies are lying--and lying large--or the fact checkers are lying.

That's the choice.

The least interesting part of the Republican attack is their attempt at cult programming: saying that all the mainstream media is left wing and in the tank for Obama, and then weaving conspiracy theorizing about various associations they say the fact-checking institutions have.

Next comes their habit of simply ignoring fact-checkers' challenges. Romney's been doing this for over a year.

But the most interesting is the Republican Ministry of Propaganda trying to define the fact-checkers' job as only legitimate it they confine themselves to quantifiable assertions and open statements.

For example, last year Romney ran an ad stating that President Obama had said in 2008 that "If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

The ad neglects to mention that Obama was quoting someone in Senator John McCain's campaign. 

But by the GOP's Goodspeak Rules, Romney's ad wasn't lying because Obama did say those words. It's just "interpretation" that journalists have no business doing to call Romney a liar because the words were a quote. 

Thus Lyin' Ryan's lie about the GM plant's closing in his hometown meaning Obama had broken a promise to keep it open was defended as true because even though the plant closed during the Bush administration, laying off its 1200 employees, a few dozen stayed on until April 2009 to finish an order for vehicles being produced on contract for a Japanese carmaker. So it wasn't formally padlocked until Obama was President. But this is lawyers' parsing, like Clinton's notorious "What is the meaning of 'is'?" malarkey. The plant was effectively closed during Bush's reign. And Obama hadn't promised to keep it open--he was making a more general statement, and made good on that general statement when he engineering the GM bailout which did keep many plants open.

If you read what Ryan said carefully, you can see how he was able to get 90% of listeners to believe he said the equivalent of "Obama lied, workers cried," while leaving himself room for his numberless paid defenders to attack the fact-checkers by saying Ryan didn't say precisely what he got his listeners to hear.

So now if you mention Lyin' Ryan to Republicans they can dismiss that sobriquet as fact-checkers' not only being Liberals but also going beyond their mandate.

Ironic how Republicans derided Clinton for such parsing when he was talking about the Lewinsky affair, yet happily do exactly the same thing now. 

Propaganda is often very subtle in its methods. That's how it can communicate racist sentiments to racists that pass right over the heads of nonracist Republicans. Welfare-gangs--street crime memes all signify "Negroes" to racists, while Republican spinmeisters hotly defend harping on such themes as being only what they say they're about. 

These are also shaped charges. Romney gives his acceptance speech without using the word "Welfare" once, yet his advertising in Southern-flavored battleground states depends on the Big Lie that Obama decided to remove work requirements from welfare. He never says "Vote for Romney to stop the Negro illegitimately in the White House from taking white people's money and sending it to Negroes." But that's exactly what his supporters who are racist hear when his ads harp on this theme. Meanwhile his supporters who aren't racist nod their heads approvingly, and those who are in between are delighted because it gives them plausible deniability for their real reason for hating Obama so much. 

And they don't want fact-checkers to check on propaganda.

I wouldn't want them to either if I were them.

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