Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Mainstream media sources seem to be roundly decrying Paul Ryan’s speech as being filled with point-blank lies throughout. And they should. It was. Head for CNN, The New York Times, TPM, CBSNews.com even Fox News if you want to read the list of all of them. Some lies Paul Ryan mentioned were vetted and fact checked even before Paul Ryan dragged them out on the convention floor for his speech.
Ten years ago, a speech that disingenuous would be political suicide as it would prove offensive to a majority of the public. Enough to make a candidate too uncomfortable to vote for. Now in hyper-partisan America, enough are pre-set to buy lies and distortions when it comes from the”right source,” it turns the decision to lie into a cost-benefit analysis. Yes, Ryan’s credibility may be damaged with the “mainstream media” who may now break from the Paul Ryan narrative of being the PX90-handsome-intellectual-policy-wonk face of the ticket. But that’s THE ONLY downside (and not much of one since campaigns are learning to speak around traditional media outlets).
The upside to flogging pants-on-fire untruths:
First: Completely ignorant people or people who vote on values and not facts will accept what he says. You pick up the low hanging fruit of low-knowledge voters.
But the bigger, smarter tactic of lying the way Paul Ryan did during his speech is to inoculate moderate conservatives, low-loyalty Democrats and Independents that could be emotionally aligned with the Romney/Ryan campaign (my heart or fear wants to go with these guys) with “intellectual-ish protection.” A quasi-plausible, selectively edited, and emotionally tinged argument they can cling to and repeat that will protect them from fact bullets lobbed during the campaign. A life raft of hope-based false fact they can tightly cling to that will keep them downing in real facts or force them to accept premises they don’t want to.
Good example. I was listing to an NPR program, Here and Now, earlier this morning. The host asked a young Republican on a college campus her reasoning why she won’t vote for Obama–besides her strong pro-life view. She immediately cited the false fact of Obama cutting Welfare. The host immediately told her that fact wasn’t true. Then proceeded to tell her that was refuted by numerous fact checking and news organizations. Then gave the woman specifics about the facts; like the policy was requested by governors and the Obama administration actually upped the work requirement.
Upon hearing that, the young woman paused. Then as if trying to stand up again from a mound of fact dropped on her said ” a lot of smears happen in political campaigns…” Her tone of voice implying that the facts just given to her was the smear and you’re trying to trick me.
This is what I mean about lies given out as a bulletproof vest for facts. That woman needs that story about welfare to be true to keep some of her opinions intact. So she holds on to it even tighter to shield herself from the facts.
That’s what all the currently proud-of-themselves news sources are missing. And will soon start scratching their collective heads as to why Ryan’s lie-filled speech isn’t outraging the public. The message he delivered was never meant to be truth. It’s meant to be an out to escape truth.
The Romney/Ryan camp knows this. That’s why a few days ago when asked why they wouldn’t stop pushing the lie about the Obama Administration cutting welfare, the campaign manager said,
“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”
This phenomenon is not the exclusive domain of Republicans. It’s just that Paul Ryan’s speech as well as other speeches at the Republican National Convention highlights it extremely well.
Like I’ve learned with some relationships, people don’t want the truth. When the truth is not wanted, many will settle for a lie said convincingly.