Streams

Opinion: I'm Tired of this Cynical, Lie-Filled Election. Aren't You?

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 10:54 AM

President Barack Obama walks away from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney after the Presidential Debate at the University of Denver on October 3, 2012. (Getty)

We're down to the wire, counting down the days to the general election now, and boy isn’t it nice that we're finally focusing on what is important?

I mean, clearly an off-handed remark about collecting resumes of highly qualified women in binders a decade ago is what we should be talking about right now. The Obama campaign has done a superb job of distracting from his poor job over the last few years by playing stupid distraction games like this, along with a normal political hack level of gleaning over his record and focusing on Romney's glaring faults. Both pile lie upon lie in their ad campaigns, stump speeches and debate blather, but no backlash follows.

Why don’t we see Obama's numbers plummet when he repeats the line about using money saved from ending the wars in Afghanistan to spend on projects here in the United States, after every fact checking organization has shown it to be complete garbage? Its not saving money to merely quit borrowing quite as much to pay for something.

And why dont Romney's numbers bottom out after he repeats his fairy tales about cutting taxes by 20 percent, all in a revenue neutral way, when the claim has been shown to be all hot air? There just aren’t enough tax loopholes to cut to lower taxes that much.

Both sides call the other liars, and they're both right. But apparently the American people have such low standards for people they're willing to put into the Oval Office that they'll stoop to voting for proven serial liars. I used to be one of them... I was fooled by Obama's rhetoric in 2008 myself.

What will it take for people to stop rewarding candidates for lying to us? It certainly is encouraging to see fact checking articles becoming more prevalent across the journalistic spectrum, but it doesnt seem to be making any difference in the polls, or the truth bending talking points from the campaigns.

The best excuse that people in both camps have is that they're not the other guy. The Obama camp is right, according to fact checkers who tally this stuff up, that Romney and company do seem to care even less about being honest than Obama and the Democrats do, but is being a proven liar and flip flopper somehow made okay when your opponent is an even worse liar and flip flopper? All this while the Romney camp is making promises almost nobody thinks it can keep, much like so many promises Obama made in 2008 that he hasn't kept.

Sure, journalistic organizations can do a more aggressive job of injecting fact checking context into their reporting, rather than merely regurgitating events and quoting what people say. If they want to be the gatekeepers for the American people, this is a job we need them to do much more.

But most of all it's up to the American people to punish those who lie to us. Until people start caring enough about lying politicians to punish them by refusing to vote and support them, we'll just keep getting more of the same, and fact-checking will continue to mainly be just another box of ammunition for campaigns to use against each other, and ignore when their side is the one caught red handed.

Tags:

More in:

News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [9]

Jack

Solomon, you still haven't answered the question that your preposterous position begs-- if not Obama or Romney, WHO the hell are you going to vote for?

You won't say because every potential answer makes you out for a total fool. To wit:

Option A, don't vote. Not only is the self-disenfranchisement option truly pathetic for somebody who's a politics junky, it's also just sadly stupid.

Option B, cast in for a nobody also-ran. Why NOT pick a sure loser? I mean, even though they have zero chance of winning, they'll still 'send a message to Washington' and wield influence in national politics, right? Just like Ralph Nader did?

Option C, write-in a candidate. Functionally equivalent to option A, with the added bonus of looking like a bigger jackass.

Those are your only options and they all suck. Don't try to pretend they don't. You put yourself in this position through your own illogic and self-righteous posturing. And now you're angry about it, reduced to more rhetorical pants-shitting.

Get over it, and get over yourself. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are NOT just two sides of the same coin, they're light years apart in how the would govern. You're just lying to yourself at this point with your false equivalences. All you ever do is scream they're both bad, they're both bad, and you accomplish NOTHING.

There's a *reason* your centrist-fetish site riseofthecenter failed. The center ISN'T rising and you're a terrible spokesperson even if it were. Why would anybody follow the political lead of a guy who months ago declared that he was going to piss away his own vote?

You don't even bother to consider how dumb this makes you look. Even people who genuinely dislike both candidates aren't this stupid. This is the end result of spending the last two years trying to equate Barack Obama with Republicans in spite of reality -- you left yourself only shit options.

So, which is it, brainiac?

Oct. 31 2012 11:22 AM
ed from Montreal

Not sure what solution you are proposing. Boycott the election?
The best we can do is to call the candidates out on their lies, hold our noses and vote for the guy who lies less.
Or perhaps the guys whose lies we prefer?

It is good to have people like Jon Stewart out there to call out the promulgation of toothy yet truthless slurs by FOX NEWS, but when the media are acting as a sounding board for the lies made by politicians there isn't much hope for the survival of truth.

The bottom line is that our media are entrusted with the task of vetting the news they report. All too often the US media think that simply reporting statements by politicians (without providing context or evaluations of accuracy) counts as journalism. It is not, any more than Silly Putty can be considered a journalist. If we really want to escape this swamp of half-truths and dishonest slurs we need the media to stop profiting from the reality television battle royale of modern campaigns and start acting like journalists. The problem is that it is a prisoner's dilemma. As long as FOX profits handsomely from acting as the propaganda wing of the GOP, it will not back down.

In other nations libel laws are much more frequently used against journalists. Though it pains me to suggest this, perhaps that is what we need in the US. Report a demonstrable mistruth, pay a fine. And FOX's infamous and insidious "Some say..." disclaimer should not be allowed. Name your sources explicitly or else you should be treated as the source.

Oct. 27 2012 02:09 PM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

"Equating Mitt Romney (and Paul Ryans') insurmountable, Olympus Mons sized, pile of lies -- with a few distortions and convenient half-truths by Obama..."

Look up the definition of "equate". I didn't say they're equivilent. I said they're both liars, which is demostrably the case. Heck... it'd be just about impossible for a sitting president to be said to be equivilently anything with an opponent.

It's so weird... this childish game of seeing "false equivilence", when no equivilence is going on, is so rampant on the left. The right does it some, but usually just refuses to acknowledge their guy is doing anything wrong. Not sure which is worse... neither makes any sense.

Oct. 26 2012 04:41 AM
Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

As usual, Jack the troll only has a leg to stand on when he pretends I'm saying something I'm not saying. I'm very much for the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, so arguing against that isn't arguing against me or what I think. All I said was you don't magically get money when you stop borrowing to pay for a war.

Of course I'm bitter, but I didn't put myself here. This is just where I stand. Your silly fairy tales aside, I'm no different than anyone else. I have my beliefs, just like you do, and they dictate what I do politically. They don't include throwing my beliefs out the window to vote for someone who I think would make the country worse than it would be with him in the Oval Office. I believe just as strongly that doing so is the wrong thing for the country, and has gotten us to where we are now, as you do that this "strategic voting" thing is the right thing to do.

Oct. 26 2012 04:36 AM
Jack

Haha, Solomon's Excellent False Equivalence Adventure continues! Let's examine some selected offerings of your bullshittery, shall we?

"Its not saving money to merely quit borrowing quite as much to pay for something."

Firstly, you misunderstand the politics, which are quite simple and intuitive to Americans: wars are expensive and they've been a waste of money squandered on non-Americans.

Secondly, you don't get the economics, either. It *IS* ultimately saving money to quit borrowing cash that was being pissed away in open-ended engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was throwing good money after bad. We can be using that borrowing to stimulate domestic growth and employment rather than subsidizing two foreign countries. It's about *opportunity costs,* a concept you clearly don't understand.

Borrowing less and borrowing smarter ARE fiscally sound moves. We've offloaded an expensive, high-interest, severely-depreciating liability in the form of war spending, which allows our future debt to decrease, thus increasing our creditworthiness to borrow for things which will actually improve our domestic economy and production, oh, yeah, and also don't involve getting American servicemen killed.

That you don't get this shows that you don't really get politics or economics and you have absolutely no business writing about it. You continually get destroyed in the comments because your thinking is sloppy, your writing is crap, and your broken record act is beyond tired.

You're reduced to behaving as an angry, bitter loser because you've stupidly marginalized yourself to protest-voter status by declaring long ago that you intended to throw away your vote by refusing to vote for either major party candidate.

You cast your idiotic move as some principled heroic purism, but in truth, it's just really goddamn dumb because self-righteous losers are still losers. Just because the magic unicorns haven't delivered to you your utopian ideal candidates worthy of your *precious* vote you whine and performing yet another false equivalence rhetorical pants-shitting. It's embarrassing.

"But most of all it's up to the American people to punish those who lie to us."

And how is that going to happen by re-electing Barack Obama or electing Mitt Romney, because those are THE ONLY TWO POSSIBLE OUTCOMES, Solomon. Learn to accept that and accept the REALITY of strategic choice. Elections aren't games of "punishment and reward," as you're stupidly suggesting. They're informed by game theory. A better choice is a better choice. Only in your self-righteous fantasy land does a huge difference between candidates not matter.

Tell us, who are you going to write-in when you piss away your vote?

Oct. 22 2012 03:34 PM
listener

It is not so much the mendacity of the candidates but how much they are held accountable for their words and actions by the media and popular culture.
Romney/Ryan can always expect intense scrutiny on their job performance from the media which actually helps them because it keeps them honest and diligent.
It has become a sad joke how the media fawns over and makes excuses for Obama/Biden which encourages more deceit and incompetence from them which explains their miserable economic record and declining popularity.

Oct. 22 2012 09:03 AM
Brandon from Brooklyn

Equating Mitt Romney (and Paul Ryans') insurmountable, Olympus Mons sized, pile of lies -- with a few distortions and convenient half-truths by Obama -- is so utterly disingenuous to the reality of what is happening that I couldn't finish reading your post.

Uwe Boll and Stanley Kubrick both made films.
Yugo and Astin Martin are both cars you can sit inside of and drive.
Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill both sent millions of people to their deaths.

LEAVING ANYTHING OUT?

Oct. 21 2012 03:01 PM

What your looking for is a non-partisan player who can put the candidates under the hammer.

Moderator-In-Chief

The criticisms that the moderators in the presidential debates are not doing their jobs in an appropriate manner are absolutely correct; however the criticisms are also absolutely wrong. Now don’t be confused; this is not a logic problem, a final exam question on a philosophy final or some thorny conundrum intended to challenge your intellect. It is a critique of those who have the presumption to speak on behalf of the public’s interests. This is an assay on the quality and grade of those who are without any basis for representing the public and without any measureable insight into what would benefit the public. Their views are that the moderator is there to be uninvolved and merely ask the questions, monitor the equality of time between the candidates and provide some limited supervision that the candidates follow the rules. This may be what the candidates and the parties view as the role that they want for the moderator, but it isn’t what is good for the public. This limited, lame and lackluster perspective doesn’t even attempt to see the value, the potential and the opportunity that a moderator who served the public interests could provide.

What the public needs, what the public deserves and what the public should demand of “their” moderator is far more than these seekers who want to be the “servant of the people” will like or find comfortable. However, how comfortable do you think I care they are with the questions or the demands to which “my moderator” will hold them accountable?

The moderator should be prepared to not just ask the questions, but to assess and determine during the candidates response if they are even coming close to answering the question which more often than not they rarely do. In these circumstances the moderator should stop the candidates’s rambling and direct them to answering the question asked. If the answer is not forthcoming the moderator should terminate the candidate’s response period and move on the next item or candidate if they haven’t had a chance to not answer the question also.

If the moderator determines that the answer was non-substantive, they would be expected to follow-up with a restatement of the question along the lines of “Could you perhaps provide something of substance that would inform the public as you prior answer did not? A simple no would be adequate if you can’t.” The mode of moderating provides the means for the public to receive information related to what they are interested in relative to the questions, rather than what the candidates are interested in telling the public.

So rather than constraining and limiting the role of the moderator, their role should be strengthened and broadened to allow them to make the

For the rest see:
From the mind of now4yourconsideration blogger

Oct. 19 2012 05:55 PM

hmmm....Ever been on a jury? I was on a murder trial once and the judge instructed us that if we found any part of the testimony of a witness to be untrue that we *could* (but were not required to) disregard the entire testimony of that witness. False in one, false in all. We can't do that for politicians. Everybody lies. Try going through your day without telling a single lie...Not even a little...one and you will see how hard truth-telling can be. If the voters applied the same standard, no one could be elected.

As for me, I'll choose the one out of four liar over the four out of ten liar. 72% versus 43% according to politifact.com

My other problem is how the media has let the partisan Congress off the hook. Every jab at the President's record that Mr. Romney makes should also land on the obstructionists in Congress - Mr. Ryan among them. The Senate is approaching 300 filibusters and the GOP House has done NOTHING to spark job growth despite Speaker Boehner claiming to have heard the American people 'loud and clear'. 54 bills have gone through our legislative process and gone to the President's desk for signature. Fourteen of those were to rename post offices. Their 'stall ball' tactics ought to have a price.

Oct. 19 2012 01:28 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.

Sponsored

About It's A Free Blog

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a blog, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Supported by

WNYC is supported by the Charles H. Revson Foundation: Because a great city needs an informed and engaged public.  Learn more at revsonfoundation.org.

Feeds

Supported by