And it's the press' fault. Why? "Because the political press has consciously folded its work into the larger entertainment culture."
... as Brit Hume almost lets the truth slip out.
Reporting on a McCain advisor's comments crediting John McCain for the development of the Blackberry, FOX's Brit Hume made the obligatory comparison to Al Gore. For a moment there, it seemed Hume was actually going to describe Gore's comments about the Internet truthfully. But Hume is a veteran newscaster - a real pro - and was able to catch himself and adjust mid-sentence to deliver the standard media lie about Al Gore:
HUME: Another McCain advisor, economic advisor trying to make a point ended up implying at least that the Arizona senator had helped create the Blackberry -- that's the communications device, not the fruit. Douglas Holtz-Eakin was referring to McCain's work on telecommunications deregulation back in the 1990s. He waved his Blackberry and said, quote, "You're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create." The analogy immediately conjured up memories of the claim that Al Gore, made by him, invented the Internet. The McCain campaign quickly issued a statement saying Holtz-Eakin's statement was merely a less-than-effective attempt at humor.
Ah, no. Al Gore didn't say he "invented the Internet." Hume and his colleagues have been lying about that for years. Last night, Hume almost let the truth slip out - that people have claimed (falsely) that Al Gore said he invented the Internet.
By the way: Rather than cracking wise about Al Gore, Brit Hume might have offered viewers an assessment of whether John McCain's actions in the Senate really did help lead to the creation of the Blackberry. Think Progress and Steve Benen suggest they did not. But Brit Hume is too busy taking cheap (and false) shots at Al Gore to assess the validity of Holtz-Eakin's claim.
TPM's Greg Sargent notes that CNN's Candy Crowley doesn't think it is her job to tell viewers which candidate is lying more.
But it is her job to baselessly speculate that people won't vote for a candidate who drinks green tea. It is her job to falsely characterize the Democrats' message as "we don't support the troops and we're not tough on national security."
Just a note regarding the supreme irony in the unfolding McCain/Blackberry story. Wired has now posted a news item that begins:
Al Gore may have invented the internet, but it's Republican presidential candidate John McCain we have to thank for the "miracle" of the BlackBerry, his top economic adviser said Tuesday.
It's false to claim that Al Gore ever said he invented the Internet. An entire books could be filled with the detailed debunking of that story. But Wired doesn't seem to care. And Wired today isn't alone. Lots of news orgs are having fun with the McCain story by comparing to Gore's claim of inventing the Internet.
The deep irony is that it was a Wired News report in 1999 that officially kicked off the Al Gore-invented-the-Internet charade because it was a Wired reporter who took Gore's overlooked comments made on CNN about the creation of the Internet and suggested Gore had taken credit for it; a Wired claim the GOP then picked up, inserted the word "invented," and and then pushed to an eager press corps.
Days later Wired News returned to the story and reported Gore "claimed to have invented the Internet."
Nine years later and Wired is still trafficking the falsehood.
Over at the Media Research Center's Newsbusters blog, Noel Sheppard takes issue with this exchange between CNN's Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley:
ANDERSON COOPER: Candy, no doubt -- very quickly -- on the campaign trail, it obviously played a big role today. You anticipate, in the days ahead, issue number one, it's going to be front and center?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN: Oh, absolutely.
I mean, listen, just as foreclosures were showing up on B-17, or in the real estate section, along comes this horrific headline out of Wall Street.
ANDERSON COOPER: Right.
CROWLEY: I mean, this is what they wanted. They believe, of course, that the economy is one of their strengths and that they can paint John McCain as George Bush.
Sheppard's complaint? "The nation's banking system is collapsing, and members of CNN are not only discussing how it helps Obama, but are admitting that this is what his campaign wanted. How disgraceful."
Crowley's comments are objectionable, all right -- but not for the reason Sheppard thinks. Read Crowley's comments again. She accused Barack Obama of rooting for economic difficulties. Sheppard thinks Crowley is "admitting" the Obama campaign wanted this. No, she's baselessly accusing them of wanting this.
Don't believe me? Try a little thought experiment. Imagine that Candy Crowley said in response to a terrorist attack that "this is what the McCain campaign wanted. They believe, of course, that fighting terrorism is one of their strengths." Do you think Noel Sheppard would say Candy Crowley "admitted" the McCain campaign wanted a terrorist attack? Of course not. He'd blast Crowley, saying she smeared McCain by saying he was rooting against America. And he would be right.
News organizations will soon start to produce debate preview stories. Those stories will provide a test of whether the recent flurry of news reports debunking false claims by McCain and Palin were simply a series of stories, or the emergence of a narrative about their truthfulness.
Here's an excerpt from the Associated Press' preview of the presidential debates in 2000: "Gore, who has been staging mock debates under a massive model shark at Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, cannot afford self-aggrandizing exaggeration (as in, 'I took the initiative in creating the Internet'), mean attacks or smarty-pants condescension."
Anyone think the AP will write anything similar about McCain and Palin?
Today's Washington Post reports that "Barack Obama's campaign accused Sen. John McCain of running a 'disgraceful, dishonorable campaign'" and that Joe Biden "also joined in accusing McCain of shameful tactics" and that "Obama said the Republican had let 'lies and spin consume a campaign that should be about you, should be about the issues, the great challenges of our time.'"
Those are serious allegations. But the Post article doesn't give readers any indication of what Obama and Biden were talking about, or whether their criticisms were based in reality. It gave readers no way to assess the validity of the descriptions of McCain. Has McCain been using "lies and spin" in his campaign? If so, that's the story - and if not, readers should know that Obama is lying about McCain lying.
As it happens, pretty much every major news organization in the country, including the Washington Post itself, has recently pointed out that McCain and his campaign aren't telling the truth, so Obama's reference to McCain lying seems accurate. But either way, the Post has a responsibility to help readers assess the validity of the charge, not to simply quote it. Instead, the Post article gives the impression that Obama and Biden are simply hurling baseless insults at McCain. Coincidentally, that's exactly what John McCain wants people to think:
Earlier in the day, after the Illinois senator made similar remarks at a stop in western Colorado, McCain pushed back. "Friends, Senator Obama's been saying some pretty nasty things about me and Governor Palin," McCain said. "That's okay; he can attack if he wants. All the insults in the world aren't going to bring change to Washington, and they're not going to change Senator Obama's record."
So, Barack Obama says John McCain is lying; John McCain says Barack Obama is just offering "insults." By not exploring the factual basis for what Obama says, the Post is, in effect, taking McCain's side.
Instead of including examples of what it knows are dishonest claims by McCain, which would help readers assess Obama's charges, the Post simply refers to "a string of tactical successes by McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, over the past two weeks."
Those "tactical successes" include a series of claims that the Washington Post has previously concluded are false. Calling them "tactical successes" without any further explanation seems like a textbook case of putting lipstick on a pig.
News orgs are all over a McCain adviser's contention that the Arizona senator, through his legislative leadership, helped create the Blackberry. But why does the media have to dig up the old Al Gore-invented-the-Internet tripe?
From AP: "Move over, Al Gore. You may lay claim to the Internet, but John McCain helped create the BlackBerry."
Al Gore did not "lay claim" to the Internet. That wasn't true in 1999 when the press, and the GOP, peddled it. And it's not true today.