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CNN has decided to inject itself into the important and thorny subject of lying about politics. I would welcome a competent and honest examination of this subject. If only CNN's article were either, I wouldn't be writing this diary.

Why Politicians Lie

Open that link in a new window and follow along below the Vorpal Squiggle of Media Criticism +2.

Wolf Blitzer and Donald Trump's heated showdown this week over claims of a conspiracy to conceal President Barack Obama's true birthplace was, at its core, an argument about lying.

Trump and other "birthers" believe the president, mainstream media outlets, the courts and the state of Hawaii are all lying, conspiring in a cover-up that began with Obama's birth announcement in a Honolulu newspaper in 1961.

Those who maintain the president was born in Hawaii -- and has produced an authentic birth certificate to prove it -- believe Trump and the other side are willfully ignoring the facts in front of them and spreading lies for political gain.

And we're off to a mixed start. It's great that CNN recognizes that the "birther" issue is essentially an argument about lying. It is. Birthers are lying, deluded, or just flat-out stupid. There is no possible good faith disagreement about this subject; the president's citizenship and place of birth are facts established with evidence beyond honest dispute. And at first glance, it seems like CNN is finally acknowledging that fact.

Until the weasel words I've bolded sink in. The president wasn't born in Hawaii, his supporters maintain that he was. Trump and other birthers aren't willfully ignoring the facts in front of them and spreading lies for political gain, their opponents just believe that they are.

In recent years there have been more egregious examples of false balance giving undeserved weight to both sides of an issue that is a matter of hard, verifiable facts. But not many.

Alas, it gets worse. So very much worse. Believe it or not, that was the best part of this steaming three-coiler. From there, what does CNN move on to?

In 2007, Edwards, who at the time was a leading candidate for president, lied about his mistress and baby when the National Enquirer caught him at the Beverly Hilton Hotel visiting the child.
And last year, disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner looked CNN's Wolf Blitzer in the eye and lied when confronted with evidence of illicit Twitter photos. He later admitted the deception and resigned from office.
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, found himself straddling the line between deception, confusion and evasion after reports leaked that he questioned the president's citizenship at a recent fundraiser.

But Coffman's gaffe seems to fall more along the lines of what some behavioral experts call a dodge or an evade.

So we have two Democratic politicians lying about their own sex lives, and one Republican lying about the president's citizenship--but CNN is careful to qualify the Republican lie by claiming that it really falls under these other two categories of lies that aren't really lies.

And for an expert opinion, CNN goes to those noted exemplars of false balance, "PolitiFact":

When Gilberto Hinojosa, who was seeking the Texas Democratic Party chairmanship, declared "a large majority of the Republican Party believes that (Obama) is a Muslim and was born in a foreign country, was not born in the United States," at the Central Texas Democratic Forum last month, the would-be chairman rated a "false" on the Truth-O-Meter.

Similarly, most claims about the president's birthplace as Kenya and the falsity of his Hawaiian birth certificate rate a flaming "Pants on Fire" on the Truth-O-Meter.

Not that any of those ratings will convince Trump, those who agree with him or those who believe the president was born in America. And it doesn't matter how much or how hard either side defends their position, Norton said.

"We're much more likely to notice evasive behavior with politicians we already disagree with," Norton said. "But we forget people in our party are doing the same thing."

Head. Desk.

But the cherry on top of the bulshytt sundae has to be the ten-page slideshow that accompanies the article. Page through it. I'll wait.

[Jeopardy theme]

Right. So let's list off the examples of political lying that CNN has helpfully highlighted for us.

Richard Nixon (R). Bill Clinton (D). Marion Berry (D). John Edwards (D). Anthony Weiner (D). Eric Massa (D). Rid Blagojevich (D). William Jefferson (D). Edwin Edwards (D). Kwame Kilpatrick (D).

Notice a pattern of any sort about the political parties of the examples? Or any historically important lies? Perhaps a Republican liar more contemporary than Richard Milhouse Nixon or more relevant to the country's future than Mike Who The Fuck Are You Again Coffman, like a certain current candidate for president?

Fail, CNN. Epic fail.

Edit: Wow, been here since 2003 and this is my first time on the Rec List. Thanks folks! This was a particularly bad CNN article and I couldn't let it go unremarked.

While I have your eyes, a shameless personal plug: if you like Lego, you might enjoy my Flickr Photostream where I post all of my Lego creations and customized minifigs. If such is not your cup of tea, thank you for your time and feel free to ignore this paragraph. :)

Originally posted to Catsy on Fri Jun 01, 2012 at 09:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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