August 11, 2006 Leave a comment
My intent was to let this Lamont-Lieberman thing go for a while, but the Republicans have been absolutely shameless in their lies and spin in response to Lamont's victory. Michael Tomasky, editor of American Prospect and one of my favorite political writers, had a great smackdown in today's Slate.com. The finer points:
of the Iraq resolution are seeking re-election: Cantwell, Hillary
Clinton (N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), Bill
Nelson (Fla.), Tom Carper (Del.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), and of course Joe
Lieberman (Conn.), now as an independent. And of those eight, exactly one?Lieberman?faced or is facing a serious primary challenge because of the war.
Many commentators, including Slate's Jacob Weisberg,
have looked at Ned Lamont's victory over Lieberman and concluded much
too hastily that the Democratic Party is galloping recklessly leftward.
But if that were truly the case, wouldn't, oh, five of these seven be
facing serious primary challenges? Even three? (They teach us in
journalism school that three makes a trend.) But there aren't even two
Democratic senators facing more than nominal primary opposition. Four
of the seven (Clinton, Feinstein, Carper, and Kohl) represent blue
states where anti-war fever is running high. Why aren't they fighting
for their political lives?
Because the Connecticut primary was about one man and one state. It was about Lieberman's excessive fawning over the president… It was about anger?fully justified anger, and from a far larger constituency than Z Magazine
readers?at the notion, widespread among the commentariat, that
national-security “toughness” demands support for the mendacious and
ruinous policies of the Bush administration in Iraq and elsewhere. And,
of course, it was about other things besides Iraq, too.
E.J. Dionne did a similarly terrific job in today's Washington Post:
of the Democratic Party” is “the basic, fundamental notion that somehow
we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this
conflict and be safe here at home.”
Wow! I bet the 145,000 free
citizens of Connecticut who voted for Lamont will be shocked to learn
that they were really sending signals of “retreat” to “al-Qaeda types.”
from Tony Snow, the White House official who speaks for the president,
came this analysis of the Connecticut result: “It's a defining moment
for the Democratic Party, whose national leaders now have made it clear
that if you disagree with the extreme left in their party they're going
to come after you.”
This statement is rooted in a lie — or, to
be polite, fiction. As Adam Nagourney noted in the New York Times
yesterday: “In fact, the vast majority of Democratic Party leaders
supported Mr. Lieberman in the primary and did not endorse Mr. Lamont
until after the results were in.” On Time.com, Perry Bacon Jr. noted
that Lieberman had the support of “almost the entire Democratic
And if being against the Iraq war makes you
“extreme left,” then the administration has succeeded in pushing 60
percent of Americans into that camp. That's the proportion opposed to
the war in the new CNN poll.
So, in short, Republicans are doing their best to cast Lamont's victory as the result a leftist fringe movement despite the fact that the majority of the American public thinks the war was a mistake. Furthermore, the president's own press secretary is willing to tell easily refuted outright lies in the hopes the media will fall for it. The sad thing is that they too often do. As Greg Sargent points out in this nice post, the Times Nagourney (as mentioned in the Dionne column) was about the only major media outlet to directly call Tony Snow out for his lie. The rest just printed it unchallenged.
This is not only a lie; it's an easily demonstrable lie. Most of the Democratic Party's key leadership figures backed Joe Lieberman,
not Lamont. This is a matter of public record. It's a point which can
be made in half a sentence. And it's a point that should have been in
every single news account which carried Snow's remarks.
So was it? Nope. Far from it, in fact. Did the Los Angeles Times piece quoting Snow's lies carry this simple rebuttal? No, it didn't. Neither did Time magazine's big wrap-up of how the GOP is allegedly going to reap enormous gains from Lamont's victory. Nor did the Associated Press's account.
The AP story was carried by CBS and likely by newspapers across the
country. In short, anyone with the misfortune of getting his or her
news from the above news orgs — or from the perhaps scores of papers
carrying the AP account — was almost certainly deprived of the most
basic info required to evaluate the White House's calculated remarks on
the biggest story of the day.
As I've said before, and surely will say again. The biggest problem with the media is not any sort of ideological bias, it is just plain laziness and shoddy journalism. Above is exhibit A.