So now it’s “game on.” No more lie and let live. The Republicans more or less announced, then displayed, yesterday that they will officially not be bound to facts or even the attempt to stay in the same area code. They won’t give a damn what the media’s first line of defense—those much-heralded “fact check” sites—have to say. So now: Will reporters and editors correct lies right in their news stories as they go along and not simply leave it to the (defanged) fact-check projects?
This has been builiding for quite awhile. We could go back to the birth of Fox News, of course, or the Swift Boat campaign or well before all that. But in the past month, as I have chronicled here, the facts-be-damned approach has really exploded, with the GOP and their PAC allies claim about Obama and You Didn’t Build That (a phrase wrenched completely out of context) and then the charge that he had removed the work requirement from welfare (completely false, yet endlessly repeated). And more, roundly criticized by all of the independent fact-checkers.
Yesterday Ben Smith of Buzzfeed reported that Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a breakfast meeting at the GOP convention, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” The fact-checkers, he added, had “jumped the shark.” National Review chimed in with the same opinion. No matter that its candidate for president recently denounced the Obama camp for running ads that had been hit (though not as hard) by some of the same fact-checkers and suggested they be pulled from the air.
Later yesterday we then watched almost the entire GOP convention primetime program built around the You Didn’t Build That lie. And Rick Santorum was called on to deliver, if briefly, the lie about Obama “gutting” welfare. The New York Times quickly posted an editorial chronicling the untruths.
All of this was too much even for former chief New York Times editor Bill Keller, who noted at his blog that the GOP was now going well beyond the usual campaign “distortion” and “oppo jiu-jitsu,” asking: “But why stop there? Why not go whole hog and just make stuff up?”
As often the case, Charles P. Pierce, at his Esquire blog (he is in Tampa), expressed the most apt outrage in reviewing the entire evening, calling the whole evening one big “demonstrable lie.” He closes with just one eloquent word: “Liars.” I suggest you read it all, but here’s an excerpt: