I can't believe I am writing another diary. Every day I say to myself that I'm just going to check in periodically, read and comment on other diaries, but I'm not going to write another diary. Then I see something and I just can't be silent. There are so many things I should be doing, but earlier I saw this segment on NOW with Alex Wagner, and I just had to go to MSNBC's site and watch it again. And then, of course, I had to transcribe it because this is powerful stuff.
First, Ezra Klein carefully explains how the media has been complicit in helping the Republicans push their lies, by not being specific enough to separate the "politics" from the "policy." They were discussing Ryan's speech last night, and from a "politics" standpoint it was a great speech. However, and this is important, from the "policy" standpoint it was a terrible speech because in pushing its rhetoric, the Republicans are marrying themselves to positions that their base will expect them to turn into actual policy that is really, really bad policy for this country.
I only became aware of Ezra Klein a couple of months ago when he was guest hosting The Rachel Maddow Show. I was very impressed with the way he uses facts, charts and graphs to explain what's going on in a way that is easy to comprehend. I've started following him on Facebook and reading his WonkBlog at The Washington Post. Alex nailed it when she responded to Ezra's soliloquy, "That is a very eloquent, and I think incredibly substantive and important point to make."
If the fact that Ezra Klein called out the media, himself included, in not carefully separating policy from politics in their reporting, wasn't enough, then Richard Wollfe weighed in on Ryan's speech. Wollfe pointed out the "Party of Personal Responsibility" is pointing their finger at President Obama and saying everything bad that is happening in this country is ALL President Obama's fault and they are all victims. How do you claim to be people who take responsibility AND that you are victims in the same argument? You really, really need to watch this clip. If you can't, I've once again transcribed every word.
Alex Wagner: What did you make of Paul Ryan's Address last night?I wonder if this comment in my last diary is true?
Ezra Klein: I want to be careful in how I phrase this because I think it's an important point.
Alex Wagner: I appreciate the long sigh.
Ezra Klein: We've done something very dangerous in the media and in politics more generally. And we've created this line where we can say, "over here is politics" and politics is about message and it's about appearance and it's about how you're polling and it's about how you come off during your speech and we can judge that separately and apart from policy, from the truth of the matter; from what it's about ... the conventions. I mean, it's as Michael Steele said you know, it's not, it's not a policy argument at convention. But that is, in some ways, there's an expectation for what politicians are going to do. They would do different things if we gave them different expectations.
And when we say the expectation is not to be honest and not to be factual, we allow them among other things aside from just being untruthful to the American people, we allow them to back themselves into promises and into theories that don't fit the moment and don't lead to good government. So, Michael Steele made the point, and it's correct, that one of the main things a convention does is they put forward a vision for the country. If that vision for the country is not based upon sound premises, if it's on a foundation of sand, it is not going to work. But, having promised it, having latched themselves to that mast they will, and I think this happened in the Bush Administration and it happens in many administrations, be forced into essentially policies that are not good policies.
Ryan's speech; I went and reread it three times at 1:00 a.m. because I had to look at something for a blog post we were doing. I wanted; what I was trying to do was find more truthful claims to add to our post, which was "The true, the false and the misleading." I found one more for a total of two. It was a really wonk speech, and it's not because you can't make a truth attack on Obama, or even that Ryan hasn't done it previously. It's just that somehow in the architecture they've built in this campaign, the truthful attack doesn't work. And that's not a good sign in how they'll govern, and it's not separate from how their message to the people.
Alex Wagner: That is a very eloquent, and I think incredibly substantive and important point to make, Ezra, and I think to some degree we're all implicated in this.
Ezra Klein: And I am too, by the way. I do this too. It's a good speech, but not true.
Alex Wagner: Because we can focus on the fact that Paul Ryan did a great job for Mitt Romney last night, but what is actually moving the country forward? Is it putting forward falsities and inaccuracies about policy and prescriptions for the American country? Richard, you know, what did you make of Paul Ryan in terms of the Romney-Ryan ticket?
Richard Wolffe: Well, there are lots of ironies about this. I mean when you played the clip before he said the President is extraordinarily silent about his record. Well, I haven't heard anything in this Republican convention about the greatest achievement Mitt Romney had in his career as governor of Massachusetts, which was healthcare reform. That was the biggest thing he did as governor of Massachusetts. We have two candidates who would rather not talk about big chunks of their record.
But even if you set aside the ironies and the discrepancies and the inconsistencies and the lies, I think Paul Ryan had a bigger problem and it goes beyond delivery and actually, this is where I think that they were engaged in bad politics. Republicans have presented with Paul Ryan's speech and this whole week, a situation where every single problem that this country faces is because of President Obama. If you're a small business and you can't hire, it's because Obama and the government is in the way. If you're a twenty-something and you're living at home, it's not your fault as Paul Ryan said, it's your leaders, it's government. It’s the government's fault; it's President Obama's fault.
Alex Wagner: It's the President Obama's poster on your wall that's fading to yellow.
Richard Wolffe: This is the Party of personal responsibility. This is the Party that says, "You go out and make this; you built it!" But it's also saying you're the victim of government. I think that's an incredibly bleak and simplistic vision and they have fallen into the exact same trap that Democrats fell in 2004, which is the "every problem in the world, Iraq, al-Qaeda; it's all President Bush." But actually, voters said, "you know what, well Iraq may be a bit of a mess, and Bush obviously has a hand in that, but al-Qaeda's real." Osama bin Laden was still there and he put out a tape in the middle of the election. And Iraq, al-Qaeda was still there.
If you look at the polls; if you look at the politics, the electorate is sophisticated enough to say, "It's not all Obama's fault. He could be doing better, but Bush is to blame; Wall Street is to blame." So they’re selling an image where in a world where Obama is everything. "If you just get rid of Obama, everything will be okay, and that's just not what people think is going on in the world or this economy.
Aaron Sorkin and HBO execs deserve medalsI've been watching The Newsroom on HBO since it debuted. I've enjoyed every episode which begins in 2010, all the while thinking that it was too bad that we didn't see this type of reporting when it was all happening. I had to believe that conservatives probably dislike this show intensely simply for the way they, and the Tea Party in particular, are portrayed. Is this show actually having an effect on the current media, in the style that Edward R. Murrow displayed during the McCarthy era? Have the lies and misleading claims finally taken their toll?
this poses a test for the news media.Holding up a mirror to lazy (and often corrupt) news media "professionals" three months before a presidential election has had a profound effect that I wonder if even they could have anticipated in their wildest dreams.
Here's a composite of all the news reporting that was included in the season finale last Sunday. Watch it. What do you think?