Yesterday, Howard Kurtz was bewildered that the public believes lies about health care. Today, he (accidentally) shows why they do.
Here's Kurtz today, again expressing exasperation that the media's debunking of lies hasn't worked:
When something is clearly and factually inaccurate, journalists should say so. And the supposed euthanasia panels under the Obama plan was a rare instance in which news organizations did just that. And yet it didn't matter, with 45 percent of Americans saying in an NBC poll that they believe the plan includes government panels that would make end-of-life decisions.
What Kurtz fails to consider is that news organizations have done an sporadic and ineffectual job of declaring falsehoods to be false, as I pointed out yesterday. And they have done an even worse job of holding the liars accountable. If you're a health care critic, you can make up whatever damn fool thing you want, secure in the knowledge that even if a few news organizations debunk your lies, they'll still quote you the next time you say something.
Here's an example: Later in today's column, Kurtz quotes Fred Barnes' latest Wall Street Journal column. In that column, Barnes promotes the death panel nonsense that Howard Kurtz knows and says is false. Yet not only does Kurtz quote the Barnes column, he doesn't write a single word of criticism of Barnes. (He does quote Time's Joe Klein blasting Barnes, but doing it this way sets up a he-said/she-said in which some readers will dismiss Klein's views.)
This, Mr. Kurtz, is why people like Barnes feel free to spread lies: They know people like you will keep quoting them as though they are serious thinkers who deserve a place at the center of the public dialogue.