Public Nuisance

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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
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Thursday, October 14, 2004
 
Did Jake Read the Memo?

Get up Jake
It's late in the morning
The rain is pouring
We got work to do.
Get up Jake
No need for lying
You tell me that you're dying but I know it's not true.

-Robbie Robertson

ABC reporter Jake Tapper apparently lacks the energy of late to read his e-mail. ABC News Political Director Mark Halperin recently sent out a memo urging journalists not to "reflexively and artificially hold both sides 'equally' accountable when the facts don't warrant that" when discussing inaccuracies in the candidates' statements. One might think that Tapper, whose job includes doing fact checks on campaign speeches, might pay attention. But consider the 'fact check' that Tapper posted on Tuesday. (I saw essentially the same material on the ABC News broadcast, I believe on Monday.)

Tapper starts out with a familiar lie: Bush's claim that Kerry is the most liberal Senator. He also, to his credit, points out that this lie has been repeated many times, in fact being an element of Bush's standard stump speech. He then refers to Bush's misrepresentation of the Lewin Group's analysis of Kerry's health care plan, pointing out that Bush overstates by 25% how many people would, according to author John Sheils, go onto Medicaid.

Bush, incidentally, repeated this same falsehood in last night's debate: "The Lewin report accurately noted that there are going to be 20 million people, over 20 million people added to government-controlled health care." Since the report states that 25 million more people will get health care under the Kerry plan, this is the same lie. But Tapper's fact check for last night's debate ignored that lie, as it ignored Bush's repetition of the lie that Kerry is the most liberal Senator.

Next up, Tapper starts criticizing Kerry. But what Kerry statement does he find to correct?

On Monday in Sante Fe, N.M., Kerry unleashed a new line of attack against the president on why gas prices are so high. "One big reason is because of this president's gross mismanagement and miscalculation regarding the war in Iraq," Kerry said.

"There are a host of other reasons at play here," said Seth Kleinman, an energy markets specialist at PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm. "There are issues in Russia, there's rampaging Chinese demand growth, there's a lack of tankers, a shortage of refinery capacity, so it's not exactly accurate to lay all of the blame on expensive gasoline on the war in Iraq."


In fact, Iraq is currently producing less oil than it did before invasion, and estimates it needs about $6 bn to return to prior output levels. Unless you believe that supply and demand is a liberal fantasy, that means that the problems in Iraq are, in fact, a significant factor in the recent oil price increases. Yes, there are other causes - but Kerry said "one big reason", not "the only reason". Kerry's statement is completely accurate. Yet Tapper labels it a "misrepresentation", while Bush's lie about medical coverage is given the weaker label, "discrepancy".

Tapper is not an idiot and is fluent in English. He knows perfectly well that Kerry told the truth, but feels the need to list a Kerry misstatement to go with the Bush lies. Even if he has to make one up.


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