Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Killing the Zombie Lie

Sigh. It's hard to kill zombie lies. They just keep popping back up again like a scene from a Woody Harrelson film. The latest perpetrator of this form of political hackery is our own Rich Cahill. On his blog, Cahill says that congressional candidate Julian Schreibman is repeating the "lie of the year" when he attacks Chris Gibson's vote to eliminate Medicare and replace it with a coupon:
It would appear that Julian Schreibman, the Democrat candidate for Congressman, is either out of ideas, desperate, or just following the "Mediscare" play book. Perhaps it is all three.

Over the last 4 days, I have received fliers at my home from or on behalf of the Schreibman campaign containing a massive lie. The ads accuse Congressman Gibson of "gutting Medicare" and "ending Medicare as we know it". Now, there is a front page story in the Daily Freeman.
Yes, Schreibman, quite rightly, is going after Gibson's record on this issue. But Cahill says that Schreibman is wrong because PolitiFact, a self-appointed "fact checker" that is part of the Tampa Bay Times media operation, says so. And there is no doubt that PolitiFact dubbed the claim that the vote effectively "ended Medicare" (or it would have had it been enacted) the "lie of the year." There were numerous articles about this, as well as a lot of other media attention about PolitiFact's claim.

There was only one problem with the whole thing: PolitiFact got it dead wrong. The Democrats didn't coin this language. The language about the bill "ending Medicare" came from the Wall Street Journal. You know, that communist rag owned by Rupert Murdoch? Dave Weigel over at Slate, in fact, wrote a point-by-point refutation of PolitiFact's response to the criticism of their story (read the whole thing if you want to understand just how badly PolitiFact botched this). PoltiFact's Bill Adair first responded by saying:
We've read the critiques and see nothing that changes our findings. We stand by our story and our conclusion that the claim was the most significant falsehood of 2011. We made no judgments on the merits of the Ryan plan; we just said that the characterization by the Democrats was false.
Weigel, though, is having none of this:
This is false, because Democrats weren't the first to make this characterization. The Wall Street Journal's reporter Naftali Bendavid did, writing that the Ryan plan "essentially ends Medicare." Democrats, in their ads and attacks, cited that story to make their claim. I covered the NY-26 race on the ground, and I remember seeing it in the mailers and ads, but anyone can check it. The Bendavid story has never been corrected -- corrections are what editors typically do if facts have been misstated.
So, the conservative Wall Street Journal uses the phrase "essentially ends Medicare" in April of 2011; the Democrats then decide to use this language in fundraisers during that election cycle, and why shouldn't they use it; PolitiFact misses all of this and ends up looking really stupid with their "lie of the year," though right-wingers, who don't seem to understand the basic concepts of logic, gleefully point to this "fact" whenever they want to defend their vote to eliminate Medicare; other Democrats continue to cite this vote as "essentially ending Medicare"; Rich Cahill, who conveniently didn't read any of the criticism of PolitiFact, tries to burnish Gibson's turd of a vote by trotting out an easily debunked claim made by bad editors.

So, thanks, Rich, for keeping the zombie going for a bit longer. You're doing your factually challenged party proud.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, Bill Adair lashed out at the "echo chamber" despite the fact that there were several different criticisms about that "Lie of the Year" that isn't even a lie. I believe he is still refusing to retract it.