Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Year's Biggest Lie

If truth is the first casualty of war, the GOP assault on Obama has produced what a Pulitzer-Prize-winning fact check site calls "The Lie of the Year"--that the President's reform law is "a government takeover" of health care.

The Oscar goes to Frank Luntz, who deserves permanent possession of the truth-twisting trophy. Whenever John Boehner or Mitch McConnell says "job-killing" about any Democratic proposal, you can be sure that Luntz is the ventriloquist behind them providing lethal language, just as he persuaded Republicans earlier to keep calling the estate tax a "death tax."

We are in the era of government-by-slogans, as an academic study finds that, during the election campaign this year, voters received "substantial levels of misinformation" from TV, with Fox in the lead and MSNBC not far behind, most of it from reporting what politicians say. And more and more of what they say is intended to push emotional buttons rather than clarify issues. (Sarah Palin "death panels," anyone?)

Although Republicans specialize in the practice, the trend is bipartisan. A Wikileaks dump shows the Cuban government upset over Michael Moore's "Sicko" for "blatant misrepresentation" of their health care system as wonderful, about as truthful as the accusations of "Obamacare" as a government takeover.

Luntz, who tests panels to discover which words and phrases evoke emotional reactions, is an admirer of Orwell, without seeming to understand that prophet's disgust with the perversion of language.

Lying for a living must eventually addle the brain.

Update: Hypocrisy, the offspring of lies, is thriving in this atmosphere, as Paul Krugman grades a prime performance of obfuscation in the debate over tax cuts and deficits.


Harley King said...


Blakenator said...

This fits nicely in the age of anti-intellectualism, highlighted by the Cheney years and the rise of the Tea Bagger nation. My strategy for talking with these types is just to ask questions because they aren't listening anyway. What I have found is 99.9% of them can't make it past the platitudes issued on right wing talk radio, which takes about two questions.