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Good For Mark Halperin

Drudge is trying to turn it into a scandal, but Mark Haperin deserves plaudits and support for stating the obvious.

UPDATE: Let me note further that the point here is not that Bush lies more than Kerry by some aggregate quantity measure (that may well be true, though it's hard to see how you'd run the numbers) the point is that Bush's lying is qualitatively different from Kerry's. The main points the media's fact-checkers have nailed Kerry on are, (a) the claim that Iraq has cost $200 billion, (b) the claim that General Eric Shinseki was "retired early," and (c) the claim that America has lost 1.6 million jobs during the Bush administration. The reality of (a) is that Iraq has cost $120 billion and is projected to cost $80 billion more based on current policy; of (b) that Shinseki was punished in a way that's a bit hard to appreciate unless you understand the standard operating procedure for senior military officers, and (c) that America has lost 1.6 million private sector jobs while gaining 1.1 million or so government jobs. In all of these cases, the point Kerry was trying to make (a) that Iraq has been expensive, (b) that Shinseki was punished for being right, and (c) that the labor market has been crappy, are all perfectly accurate.

Typical Bushian distortions aren't like this at all. They aren't oversimplifications, designed to create a good sound bite but where the basic point stands even if you lay out the facts. To take just one example, Bush says Kerry favors a "government takeover" of the health insurance market. He does not, in fact, favor such a takeover. And the only argument Bush musters against the Kerry plan is that it's a big government takeover. The fact that this isn't what Kerry's actually proposing thus utterly defeats Bush's point. There's a significance to this departure from reality that imprecision about what happened to General Shinseki lacks.

October 9, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

Shorter Drudge: Kill all the truth-tellers!

Posted by: JP | Oct 9, 2004 5:16:36 PM

Note how Drudge Dowdified the critical quote:

Drudge: ABC news won't "reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable"

Memo: but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that. when the facts don't warrant that.

I give Drudge credit for posting the whole memo, but none of the foaming right-wingers are including the critical "when the facts don't warrant that" bit.

Posted by: Oberon | Oct 9, 2004 5:33:13 PM

Been seeing Mark Halperin around. On the Charlie Rose Show Halperin said about one of the debates that we wait to see how the semiotics were analyzed. I am of course quite impressed with the dude. I want him to rebuild CNN. Soon.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 9, 2004 5:53:34 PM

Oh, puhleeze. If a director at Fox had posted the precise same memo, with Bush and Lurch switched, you'd all be baying at the moon.

Matt - you used to be one of about three liberal bloggers I read and respected. This last few weeks, you're losing it. I'm sincerely sad to see it. You're turning into Atrios.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter | Oct 9, 2004 6:03:11 PM

I've been wondering what would happen. It's plain to see that Bush has lost the support of America's informed elites, but it's hardly clear to me that the infotainment media are one of those elites, or that the informed elites can influence the media much.

I think a lot of people who are in a kind of Paul O'Neill way are beginning to think they can't just let a second term happen.

Posted by: serial catowner | Oct 9, 2004 6:04:57 PM

The Drudge font was unclear so it wasn't until I was at Drum's that I saw Halperin's brilliant and witty use/mention distinction. Matt has to be a fan.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 9, 2004 6:10:25 PM

i sent a supportive email to politicalunit AT abcnews DOT com. couldn't find an email for halperin personally.

freedom fighter: there you go again. let's say you're watching the 89 Pistons on classic sports. and you happen to notice that the refs are calling more fouls on the "bad boys" than they are on the other team. do you scream "bias"? no. the '89 pistons really did commit a lot of fouls. if, on the other hand, the refs insist that the other team is committing more fouls, when you can see with your own eyes that the pistons are manhandling them and getting away with it, then you're going to get pissed. you're also going to get pissed if the pistons are playing dirty, the other team is playing clean, and yet every time bill laimbeer elbows somebody in the face and gets called for it, there has to be a make-up call.

your argument is basically the same crap this memo is about. the assertion is that the republicans are doing more dirt. this claim is either true or false. (in fact, it is true.) it is a factual claim to be assessed by looking at facts. instead, you wish for it to be dismissed as "partisan perception" out of hand, because above all, you don't want the facts (which show that the republicans are doing more dirty shit) to actually come into play. you want a discourse in which it is impossible to discuss the possibility that one side is dirtier than the other. it should be obvious that it is, in fact, possible that one side really is dirtier than the other. and intelligent people will consider and discuss that possibility, at the expense (sob) of having to ignore you.

Posted by: some guy | Oct 9, 2004 6:47:03 PM

Here's the thing. The Bush Administration simply cannot be allowed to both run against Democratic Strawman and to just lie about the findings of major reports. Part of this is that Kerry is, as Matt says, using the news itself against Bush. So it is to be expected that reporters will stand by their stories and those of their colleagues, because when Boosh lies he's attacking them, too.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 9, 2004 7:49:30 PM

Its time for the press to name the president as the liar he is. He has remained unrepentant, and vehemently wrong in his two "debate" apperances. In doing so, the President has decided to place his own personal honor above that of his office, and has shamed himself, the office and the nation. The presidency must be held to a higher standard, this one has been given every chance to apologize and change its rhetoric- NOW is time to force the President to accountability.

While many on the right have created a fantasy culture of "press persecution victimhood", Team Bush has never had to deal with a truly hostile press corp. Having now comprehensicely demonstrated to the nation that they, Team Bush, will be running a campaign for the highest office based entirely on outright lies, rather than any policy or enunciated strategic vision, the press must redeem the honor of the nation by exposing the President's despicable and dishonorable actions.

Posted by: patience | Oct 9, 2004 7:50:46 PM

Matt! You may lose the "respect" Freedom Fighter gives to weenie, accomodating liberals! You are in peril!

Posted by: zizka | Oct 9, 2004 8:25:01 PM

If you have not heard, there is currently an effort to prevent Sinclair Broadcasting from airing an anti-Kerry documentary in violation of FEC and FCC regulations. Please contact your Congress man or other representatives about this matter.

Posted by: bruhrabbit | Oct 9, 2004 8:26:04 PM

Josh Marshall is quite good on this

Halperin

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 9, 2004 8:45:21 PM

"Its time for the press to name the president as the liar he is."

I still think the subtext of this late campaign is "toughness". Nerve, cojones, chutzpah. Bush is saying "Hell yes I lie, will continue to lie, what ya gonna do about it ya whiney wusses? I'm right, you're wrong, I don't give a shit what you say or do, I am going to be the next President. Deal."

The willingness to defy norms of behavior also prepares for the post-campaign. Bush is going to be the next President. I know what the Republicans are willing to do:anything. I have yet to believe the rest of the country is willing to do what it would take to stop him.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 9, 2004 8:54:04 PM

Others have talked about how the networks have been gulled into covering this as 'Shape of Earth: Views Differ'. The Bush campaign is built upon mendacity, and the press is too cowed to use the word 'lie' when it's as obvious as day that the president is a liar.

So it is to be expected that reporters will stand by their stories and those of their colleagues, because when Boosh lies he's attacking them, too.

One would hope so. But campaign journalism exists alongside 'news' journalism in a way that's reminiscent of the so-called 'wall' between the FBI and CIA. So it's possible for the Nagourneys and Wilgorens to produce, unquestioningly, the Same Old Shit and have it actually appearing alongside fact-based reporting that belies what's being said.

We don't quite see it as blatantly if we get our news from the internets (sic) but when you see it in print, it's pretty mindblowing. And Orwellian. But do you really think that Wilgoren and Nagourney give a shit that their 'work' on page A3 glosses over the distortions that are exposed on page A4?

Posted by: ahem | Oct 9, 2004 9:05:48 PM

let's say you're watching the 89 Pistons on classic sports. and you happen to notice that the refs are calling more fouls on the "bad boys" than they are on the other team. do you scream "bias"? no.


Yeah, except we're not watching how the refs treated the 89 Pistons. We're watching how the refs treated the '93 Bulls. Gee, I'm seeing the refs call a lot more fouls when the Suns were guarding Jordan than when the Bulls guarded the Suns. Were the refs favoring Jordan? Uh... yeah!

Posted by: Al | Oct 9, 2004 10:12:32 PM

I predict ABC's ratings will begin to decline, once the public learns ABC plans to treat Bush more harshly than Kerry.

Sorry, Matthew, but Americans value truth in advertising. ABC can no longer pretend to be fair and expect the public to keep watching.

FOX, of course, figured out that the public likes networks to admit their point of view.

ABC's loss will be FOX's gain.

Posted by: Kevin Gregory | Oct 9, 2004 10:25:33 PM

Al, you're not convincing anybody you're not insane here.

Posted by: dbt | Oct 9, 2004 10:30:36 PM

OT:

David Broder has essentially called for Bush's defeat in the WaPo online edition. About accountability for Iraq only in the hands of the voters because no one else will step up.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18875-2004Oct8.html

You may have to register to view.

Posted by: Brad | Oct 9, 2004 10:43:42 PM

"When has the United States launched a preemptive attack on a foreign nation with as little provocation -- and as spurious a rationale -- as this war on Iraq?" ...Broder, WaPo

Uhhh, Mexico(Polk). Umm,Philippines(Sp). With similar false rationales and actual ambitions.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 9, 2004 11:00:42 PM

"I predict ABC's ratings will begin to decline, once the public learns ABC plans to treat Bush more harshly than Kerry."

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt. Thanks for playing though, Kevin, we've got some Rice-A-Roni for you on your way out.

Halperin is calling for ABC to stop treating Bush the same as Kerry, even when Bush's actions should get different treatment.

If ABC ends up treating Bush more harshly, it's because his conduct demands it, not because ABC was out to get him.

In theory, if B 'n' C stop lying entirely, ABC's coverage of them would improve, if Halperin's memo is followed.

Posted by: Erik | Oct 10, 2004 12:18:55 AM

"Hell yes I lie, will continue to lie, what ya gonna do about it ya whiney wusses? I'm right, you're wrong, I don't give a shit what you say or do...."

Yeah, except we're not watching how the refs treated the 89 Pistons. We're watching how the refs treated the '93 Bulls. Gee, I'm seeing the refs call a lot more fouls when the Suns were guarding Jordan than when the Bulls guarded the Suns. Were the refs favoring Jordan? Uh... yeah!

Bob McManus: prophet

Posted by: JP | Oct 10, 2004 1:03:30 AM

(OFF TOPIC)By Philippines, you mean Spain more generally, right bob? One might add Vietnam to the list, given that the Gulf of Tonkin attacks didn't really happen, but it also wasn't a pre-emptive attack, in the sense of invading North Vietnam. Undoubtedly, some Canadian is about to mention the War of 1812 as a pre-emptive act of aggression (because Britain had a RIGHT to kidnap American sailors on the high seas, damnit), though I respectfully disagree with that assessment. There are also a bunch of interventions in Nicaragua, Haiti, the Domenican Republic, and possibly Cuba from the 1900s-1930s (depends on whether you consider it an intervention if Cuba's constitution (by our decree) had an article allowing it), and they certainly weren't in response to aggression (unless you consider, say, suspending payments on government bills an act of aggression). They weren't exactly acts of war, either, though, so I'm not sure you could call them "pre-emptive."(/OFF TOPIC)

Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 10, 2004 1:23:53 AM

On topic, I think that Mark Halperin's memo is just ordinary, plain, common sense if you accept the premise that, objectively, Bush lies more than Kerry. Freedom fighter may not accept that premise, and may believe they lie with equal frequency and gravity, or that Kerry lies more and more seriously than Bush. He is free to make that case, but I think that the logic of Halperin's memo is flawless.

Posted by: Julian Elson | Oct 10, 2004 1:28:38 AM

Kevin,
You lost me when you said "FOX, of course, figured out that the public likes networks to admit their point of view." While everyone knows Fox is a tool of the RNC they still call themselves "fair and balanced." Until they drop that slogan they have not "admitted" their point of view.

Posted by: Elrod | Oct 10, 2004 1:36:29 AM

FOX, of course, figured out that the public likes networks to admit their point of view.

'Kevin' 'Gregory' is also completely fucking insane, of course, having referenced the 'fair and balanced' network of 'independent' Bill O'Reilly.

Get back on the anti-psychotics, Gregory.

Posted by: ahem | Oct 10, 2004 2:33:50 AM

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