The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I expect to see something about Jeff Greenfield's segment just now from The Situation Room on Media Matters tonight.

In one of those all-too-common edit pieces about how Democrats have, for the past 40-some years, been seen as weaker on national security than Republicans, Greenfield described the usual stuff -- Dems won the 64 election on national security, 'Nam split them, Carter weak, Reagan strong, Cold war end, Clinton win, yadda yadda -- until finally arriving at the present. In doing so, he commits the same offense I faulted Wolf Blitzer for last week, only worse:
GREENFIELD: ...Now, Democrats believe they can use the bungled federal response to Katrina, the Dubai ports deal and the difficulties in Iraq to reclaim the security issue on competence grounds. Republicans, unsurprisingly, have a different notion, that they can continue to paint the Democratic opposition as soft on terror. Here, for instance, is how the President described the Democrats' rejections to warrantless wiretaps.

PRESIDENT BUSH (video): They ought to take their message to the people, and say "vote for me, I promise we're not going to have a terrorist surveillance program." (end clip)
Yes, he quickly snuck the word "warrantless" in there before the clip, but immediately after the clip would have been a good time to address the charge made by the President on some, or any sort of contextual grounds. But instead...
GREENFIELD: It is a measure of just how much the Democrats have been hurt by the security issue that, at a time when the President's approval ratings are low and polls say voters would prefer that Democrats control the Congress, they are looking to define themselves on the security issue more than seven months before the midterms, apparently believing that if voters don't trust them on the security issue, the others wont matter much. Wolf?
Look, I know the main point of Greenfield's segment was to describe the political posturing by the two parties on national security. But there's spin, and then there are outright lies about your opponents' position, and passing along these blatant mischaracterizations uncritically is beneath the mission of the news media.


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