Press Actions

This is a good idea from Dave Winer:

Barack Obama isn’t a sexual pervert, the law that he voted for when he was an Illinois state senator was designed to protect small children from sexual predators. The news should not report a controversy, they should report that McCain is telling a desipicable lie. Until that lie is acknowledged, retracted and apologized for, both to Obama and to the electorate, McCain should not receive any of the services of the press. The first question in any interview should be “Why are you lying and when will you admit that you are and stop.” If he continues to lie, that’s the end of the interview. The reporter wraps it up and leaves. You can’t continue to interview someone who you know is lying. Reporters do it all the time, but this must stop now.

10 thoughts on “Press Actions

  1. gibb

    B.S. Asking “Did you lie, or knowingly take truth out of context to open it up to misinterpretation?” is a reasonable, neutral question that allows others to decide for themselves. “Why are you lying..?” is an obvious opinion–and should be stated as such.

    Calling someone a liar based upon perception is at worst, a shootable offense (ah, the days of the Old West); at best, rude.

  2. Steve Post author

    Calling someone a liar when the lie can be proven is perfectly acceptable. In discourse, the expectation or agreement between parties is the civilized approach; this is the heart of debate. It is uncivil to persist in either denial or distortion when 10 people say you have a tail.

    Winer’s point is that reporters should not move on in an interview when someone persists in articulating a lie. Public figures need the press more than the other way around. The press could always go back to their watchdog job rather than letting any administration or promo group control a message. This hurts the civil discourse of any entity.

    If a person lies and persists, a good reporter should say, you know what, we’re done. See ya. That’s not BS. That’s what I will do with people I talk to. If we can’t be reasonable, then we’re done.

  3. Josh

    What lie is McCain telling/perpetuating? Who suggested Obama was a “pervert”?

    Obama’s record is his record. Frankly, the bill he voted for is far WORSE than the ad even got into.

    In addition to adding “comprehensive sex ecucation” to the curriculum for K-5, it STRIKES from the state law books the requirement to “teach honor and respect for monogamous, heterosexual marriage”, “stress that pupils restrain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage”, or educate on the “possible emotional and psychological consequences” of premarital and/or adolescent sex.

    At best, a small fraction is language specifically intended for protecting children from sexual predators.

  4. Josh

    Sorry for the double-post, but I just noticed this:

    “If a person lies and persists, a good reporter should say, you know what, we’re done. See ya.”

    I agree! But that works both ways, right? Like when the Associated Press quotes only a third of Palin’s statement so that they can paint her as “one of those wacky Christians”…

    Or how about when various media outlets reported–directly or indirectly–so many lies on Palin’s background that even Newsweek felt compelled to run a feature story debunking them all…

    Do these disqualify those outlets/reporters from a candidate’s press junket?

  5. Steve Post author

    “Do these disqualify those outlets/reporters from a candidate’s press junket?”

    That’s up to the politico, and, would, of course, be difficult to do. But, as you yourself admit, it works both ways. McCain ads (Obama and sex ed and the pig metaphor) persist in distorting Obama’s words. If AP, McCain, and Obama (who distorts McCain’s voting record) cherry pick, then what?

    Outright lying is a different matter.

  6. Josh

    We are still waiting for the Obama campaign to annunciate what about McCain’s Sex-Ed ad is “distorting” (or “a lie”)…

    We do know that Obama is on the record (twice–once through his vote, and once at a Planned Parenthood news conference almost a year ago) of being in support of teaching comprehensive sex education to kindergarteners.

    Now why doesn’t the media report this so that the nation can make a judgment call as to who is doing the lying and distorting?

  7. Josh

    Thank you for the link, Steve.

    Both sides of an ad run by a campaign should be checked by the electorate and media for its accuracy. I admit that is a naive thought, especially in regard to the media. Even when the media says that both campaigns are “going too far”, their natural bias will only implicate the Republican campaign while giving the Democrat a pass (see this AP article as an example–starting with paragraph six).

    That said, there is nothing in the FactCheck article that quotes Obama as not supporting the principles of the bill he voted for. Furthermore, Obama (and FactCheck) simply defending his vote by saying he wants to protect children from sexual predators (or that the bill stalled anyway) completely misses the greater point of whether American families support schools teaching sex-ed to kindergartners, or a U.S. Presidential candidate who supports this.

    Obama must believe that his view will not fly in a national election. Otherwise he would be on the airwaves defending the whole bill on which his vote is based, not only one small part of it.

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