It is strange that one party in our two party system doesn’t believe in facts, nor seemingly pays much of a penalty for blatant lies about a plethora of topics. Climate change, immigration, gun control, trickle-down1 economics; the list of Republic falsehoods injected into the public discourse could go on for hours, if one were so inclined.
Even worse, in my estimation, is that much of the corporate media does what Paul Waldman of the Washington Post calls out in his column -by reducing GOP falsehoods to “critcs say”, aka “both sides” aka “false equivalency”2, the GOP’s non-factual assertions are treated as serious, when they really are not…
Among the things Democrats pointed out was that even before the tax cut, corporations were making near-record profits and sitting on mountains of cash; if they wanted to invest, create jobs and raise wages, they already had the means to do it. They also observed that even before the tax cut passed, corporations were saying publicly that they intended to use the money for stock buybacks.
But what about those bonuses that companies announced and that Trump kept touting? It’s true that some companies did give workers one-time bonuses. But it was essentially a PR move. Take Walmart, for instance. It made a splashy announcement that it would be giving bonuses of up to $1,000 to workers, which sounded great. But then it turned out that you’d only get that much if you’d been working there for 20 years, and the average worker would get around $190. Which is better than nothing, but it isn’t exactly going to transform your life.
And as ThinkProgress noted, the total value of Walmart’s bonuses was $400 million, which seems like a lot until you learn that over 10 years the value of the tax cut to the corporation will be $18 billion. In other words, about 2 percent of its tax cut is going to workers, at least in the short run.
How many times do we have to play this game? When a new policy debate emerges, Democrats try to make an argument that has some connection to reality, while Republicans make absurd claims in the knowledge that even if they get debunked in the occasional “news analysis” piece, on the whole they’ll be treated with complete seriousness, no matter how ridiculous they are.
It’s in part because lies about the future — and that’s what they are when you know that what you’re saying is utterly bogus — will not be policed with nearly the same vigor as lies about the past. If Trump claims that he had the largest inaugural crowd in history, it will immediately get shot down and subject to mockery even from neutral reporters. But if he says that all the benefits of his corporate tax cut will flow to workers, which is no less a lie, it will usually be met with “Critics question whether there is evidence to support his assertion.” When Republicans said that their tax cut wouldn’t increase the deficit because it would create so much economic growth that revenue would actually increase, it was treated as a questionable claim, not an assertion on par with “If I flap my arms, I can fly to the moon” or “With a week of training, my dog will be able to do a perfect rendition of ‘Enter Sandman’ on the electric guitar.”
(click here to continue reading Shocker: Democrats’ predictions about the GOP tax cut are coming true – The Washington Post.)
In an ideal world, the same reporters and television talking heads would aggressively come after the GOP liars, quoting their words back to them and demanding answers, as if the journalists were high school children from Parkland, FL, or Dutch questioners of Ambassador Hoekstra. If only our corporate media courtiers were as persistent as the Dutch press, we’d all be better off.
Peter Hoekstra, the newly minted U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, held his first news conference with the Dutch media at his new residence in The Hague on Wednesday.
It did not go well.
Dutch journalists peppered Hoekstra with questions on unsubstantiated claims he made in 2015 about chaos that the “Islamic movement” had allegedly brought to the Netherlands.
“There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” he said then, at a conference hosted by a conservative group. “And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
The comments have widely been described as inaccurate, and seem to reflect certain conspiracy theories about sharia law that crop up in some circles of the far-right in the West. When pressed by the Dutch reporters, Hoekstra declined to retract the comments or give specific examples to back them up.
In fact, after saying that he would not be “revisiting the issue,” he simply refused to answer the question at all.
But the reporters were not done with the line of questioning. Instead of moving on, another reporter would simply ask a variation of the query again.
“Everybody there had one question: That crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?” Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, said in a phone interview about the event. “We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it.”
(click here to continue reading Trump’s Netherlands ambassador Peter Hoekstra grilled by Dutch press over Islam comments – The Washington Post.)
I would so love if this style overcame the “access journalism” practices by many Washington-based journalists.Footnotes: