Breaking from our recent mode of one full piece a day, we return to a more “bloggy” format this week for brief and varied items on the DNC and the media.
UPDATE: IT's NOT EASY BLEEPIN' GREEN This Green Party TV spot with partial obscenity causing all kinds of trouble. "The Green Party won a public-relations battle with Google on Tuesday, forcing the company’s television advertising division to book time for a commercial in which its presidential candidate uses a (partly bleeped) obscenity to describe the policies of the major-party candidates."
UPDATE: EASTWOODING, VIA CHRIS ROCK Apparently various top Dems are already cracking wise about Clint and his magical chair or Eastwooding in general at the convention, though not yet in the hall. Hard to top this rather serious idea, though: "It’s hard to blame the Democrats. No less a comedic inspiration than Chris Rock seemed to egg them on, proposing that party leaders 'have an empty chair onstage for the entire D.N.C.' When anybody asks, he said, they should say it is occupied by Osama bin Laden."
UPDATE: THE NYT VISITS CHARLOTTE OCCUPY CAMP And they are not impressed. Turnout, in their view, is light, following modest crowds in Tampa (which at the time were largely attributed to horrid weather). Even some of the campers seemed to have expected more. But the “police state” claims about the arrangements to thwart protesters also might have discouraged folks. This story has just now appeared online and will appear in print tomorrow, so we’ll see how the activists respond.
ARE YOUR MEDIA BETTER THAN THEY WERE FOUR YEARS AGO?: Since their convention last week, the GOPers have pivoted, now that they are no longer simply talking to themselves—and empty chairs. With “you didn’t build” and “Obama has gutted welfare” losing whatever resonance they once had (at least partly due to media fact-checking), they are now addressing a more general audience and the, oh, 129 or so undecided voters out there. They’re already turned to the inevitable “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” meme.
For me it produces such a Reagan-era flashback I expect to hear “Where’s the beef?” any minute now.
In any case, this line of questioning has already inspired various Dem leaders on the Sunday talks shows, in the press yesterday and in their just-released party platform, to take up the challenge full on and declare that, well, yes, now that you ask, most people are better off than they were four years ago: more people are covered by medical insurance, the auto industry is back, Osama is dead, etc.
And see this new blog post by Paul Krugman on how misleading the entire question is. Obama inherited worst economy since the Depression and things could have gotten much, much worse, and did not. Also, citing Dean Baker, he suggests that if you have a fire at your house that doesn’t take the whole structure you would surely have to admit that it is worse off than before—but at least it’s still quite fixable.
In a way the Dems, in claiming that most people are better off, are acting much like the Repubs did when they decided to take the offensive on Medicare. The success of that remains to be seen, but then again, we’ll see how the Dems’ spin works out. Certainly the unemployment rate remains quite high and even liberals have many gripes—the war in Afghanistan still going on, too many drone strikes, the war against whistleblowers, overly compromised health reform, and on and on.
The mainstream or legacy media (or whatever you’re supposed to call it these days) seems to be more aggressive in fact-checking—if not yet labeling lies, well, lies—so that’s another way we might be better off than we were four years ago. A notable exception: Ben Smith of Buzzfeed has defended Ryan’s lies, criticized the “new pseudo-science of fact-checking” and even claimed that Romney’s repeated charge of Obama “gutting welfare” is fairly fair. See my report on all that here.
But the new “better off” GOP focus raises new challenges just as finding daily errors in Romney and Ryan statements started to get fun. True facts can be cherry-picked from endless events and data. It may be hard in most cases to prove them false. But will the media probe how cherry-picked they may be and, therefore, how misleading—even, in a sense, quite “wrong”?
We’ll see. But the NYT was off to a good start last night with this look at some Paul Ryan cherry pickin’ and grinnin’. In that case, even some of the facts are basically wrong. But it won’t always be that easy. Can the media handle the bigger picture?
DeNIRO TO DO SOME EASTWOODING? Modest proposal: Please allow Robert DeNiro, the well-known Democrat, to appear at DNC this week to fully tweak the GOP for its Eastwood nonsense. Here’s how it might look, with the usual array of giant video screens, which could show an empty gold throne—or $3,000 empty suit.
Greg Mitchell’s books and e-books on influential American campaigns include Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, The Campaign of the Century (on Upton Sinclair’s 1934 race) and Why Obama Won. He also blogs daily at Pressing Issues.