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Hullabaloo


Sunday, December 02, 2012

 
One journalist has a Howard Beale moment

by David Atkins

There's a reason that Howard Beale is on the Hullabaloo mast. He represents the willingness of someone in a time of small minds and universal deceit to betray the conventions of their profession and loudly proclaim they're "not going to take it anymore." The fiction in the film Network (and Bulworth and many others) is that the simple act of doing so by a highly placed individual will lead millions of others to protest as well. Perhaps, perhaps not. But one can hope.

Given the rotten state of journalism in this country, it's nice to see not only cheetos-eating bloggers like me and Digby, but someone on the inside of the Village stand up and tell the emperor they have no clothes as well. Case in point: Michael Grunwald, senior editor of Time Magazine, calling out the not only the fiscal cliff fiction, but also journalists' role in perpetuating it:

Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the GOP Isn’t Full of It

It’s really amazing to see political reporters dutifully passing along Republican complaints that President Obama’s opening offer in the fiscal cliff talks is just a recycled version of his old plan, when those same reporters spent the last year dutifully passing along Republican complaints that Obama had no plan. It’s even more amazing to see them pass along Republican outrage that Obama isn’t cutting Medicare enough, in the same matter-of-fact tone they used during the campaign to pass along Republican outrage that Obama was cutting Medicare.

This isn’t just cognitive dissonance. It’s irresponsible reporting. Mainstream media outlets don’t want to look partisan, so they ignore the BS hidden in plain sight, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that defines the modern Republican Party. I’m old enough to remember when Republicans insisted that anyone who said they wanted to cut Medicare was a demagogue, because I’m more than three weeks old.

I’ve written a lot about the GOP’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that Republicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that President Bush bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to GOP threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened...

Whatever. I realize that the GOP’s up-is-downism puts news reporters in an awkward position. It would seem tendentious to point out Republican hypocrisy on deficits and Medicare and stimulus every time it comes up, because these days it comes up almost every time a Republican leader opens his mouth. But we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.
I've left out quite a bit. Be sure to read the whole thing. It's great.

When the facts are so clearly on one side, it's not biased or irresponsible journalism to point that out. It's just good journalism.


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