Ryan’s Speech Breaks the Media

I have been trying not to get sucked into the media maelstrom spinning with hurricane force around the convention.

Metaphor purposeful, if perhaps a bit disrespectful.

But then I saw this post on the reliably neutral Wonkblog, about Paul Ryan’s convention speech.

Ezra Klein wanted to stay neutral! He really did! But there were just too many lies!

Ryan’s claims weren’t even arguably true. You simply can’t say the president hasn’t released a deficit reduction plan. The plan is right here. You simply can’t say the president broke his promise to keep your GM plant open. The decision to close the plant was made before he entered office — and, by the way, the guy at the top of your ticket opposed the auto bailout. You simply can’t argue that the Affordable Care Act was a government takeover of the health-care system. My doctor still works for Kaiser Permanente, a private company that the government does not own. You simply can’t say that Obama, who was willing to follow historical precedent and sign a clean debt ceiling increase, caused the S&P downgrade, when S&P clearly said it was due to congressional gridlock and even wrote that it was partly due to the GOP’s dogmatic position on taxes.

Beleaguered, bewildered Klein reviewed Palin’s equivalent speech from 2008 and found her claims to be, on the whole, based in legitimate interpretations of Obama’s record.

This speech, not so much.

The Romney campaign’s apparent sustained F-U to basic minimum requirements of political communications has resulted in some challenges to a press that would like to, despite what some may believe, report on the campaign fairly.

Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true.

In a climate where facts are believed to be subjective—a climate in which top students at a state university told me they could not trust a single news outlet to give them unbiased information—the press is under tremendous pressure to legitimate itself.

It cannot do that if every convention-related headline tells the truth: Ryan’s speech was a series of bald-faced lies. It doesn’t look fair, but it’s true.

Unfortunately, most of the country won’t believe that it’s true. Because it doesn’t look fair.

Because, in many voters’ minds, truth is subordinate to party ideology.

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2 thoughts on “Ryan’s Speech Breaks the Media

  1. Jane says:

    Folks believe what they want without bothering to take the time to do their research. In days of old, we read newspaper columns, editorials and actual news stories. Now it seems untruths abound on the internet…and some of my Facebook friends post all of them. Sigh…

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes! The thing is, watching the news is doing their research. You know? Plenty of people still read newspapers. But TV is a medium designed for high drama and conflict. So TV news is conflict-based, rather than information-based.

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