Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sounds of Silence

Ezra Klien wrote an outstanding piece on the press’s involvement in the American election process.

We have heard the phrase, “If you say it enough times, even a lie will become true.” He talks of the opposite phenomena—if you don’t say it enough, it must not be important. In his own words:

It's sort of like a TV show: If Friends had had an episode where Ross and Rachel hooked up, but never mentioned it again, that would've been weird, but their tryst wouldn't have been a big part of the story. Since they mentioned it all the time, and came back to it, and fit future events into that context, it was a big story. Similarly, if the press reports something and never mentions it again, the public knows to forget it. It's not important. If they mention it constantly -- "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" -- they know it is important.

I fear the same thing happening with the nomination of Gov. Palin. She makes a speech. Numerous falsehoods are pointed out—including the Bridge to Nowhere turn-about. We subsequently discover she implicitly embraces censorship, that she replaces competent employees with loyal followers and as a Mayor sent a city that had 0$ in debt to $22 Million in debt. She has an agenda, and nothing said will sway her from it. (In that respect, she is, indeed, a PTA Mom.)

And what happens when this is pointed out? Cries of “Stop picking on me!” “Not fair!”

“Be silent.”

Because if the press is silent—it is like it never happened. Right?

No, it is NOT time to “move on.” It is time Gov. Palin address these very issues head-on. I wish the interviewers would ask and ask and ask the same questions, “Why did you say you were against the Bridge to Nowhere when you were initially for it?” “Why did your city go into debt?” “Why did you ask a librarian if she would censor books, and why, after the Librarian said ‘No.’—you attempted to terminate her?” “Why did you charge a per diem rate when living at home?” “What happened to that jet—did you sell it for a loss?” “What happened to the chef—is she still employed?”

Sadly, we have come to rely on bloggers to make more noise than the press will.

h/t to James Elliott


  1. I heartily agree! Interviewers should be asking Palin these tough questions. Problem is, they can't!

  2. So far they're following the Bush/Putin method of disallowing any press access to Palin. Two weeks since her announcement and the person that could end up President of the United States has not done an interview. Staggering.

  3. **?” “Why did you ask a librarian if she would censor books, and why, after the Librarian said ‘No.’—you attempted to terminate her?”**

    This is a rather murky issue. Per factcheck, Palin did ask the librarian what would happen if Palin requested that certain books be banned, but not that Palin specifically asked for books to be banned. It was phrased as a hypothetical situation. And the librarian was fired, but Palin said that was because she didn't feel she had the librarian's full support. And then re-hired the librarian the next day.

    And I'm going with Jon on this one. Sarah Palin has a good chance of becoming President, due to McCain's age and potential health issues. The press doesn't have the right to ask as many questions as possible about her positions? It's not even a matter of her experience, or lack of experience, or any of that. I simply what to know who she is, and what she supports.

  4. Palin only called the librarian situation a “rhetorical question” or a “hypothetical” after it blew up in her face. How convenient…

    Further, let’s assume it WAS a hypothetical. Can we all agree the answer to censorship should be “No”? What should Palin’s reply to such a hypothetical situation have been? Notice the two differences:

    Palin: What would happen if I asked you to censor some books?
    Librarian: I would say ‘No.”
    Palin: That was a hypothetical—good answer.

    Palin: What would happen if I asked you to censor some books?
    Librarian: I would say ‘No.”
    Palin: You are terminated for not being supportive of me.

    Even IF it was a hypothetical, in Palin’s mind the Librarian’s refusal to censor was a “lack of support.”

    I am baffled as to how the concept this was a “hypothetical” or a “rhetorical question” makes a whit of difference. Yet those supporting Palin seem to think this is a satisfactory answer.


    More on that in the future…

  5. **I am baffled as to how the concept this was a “hypothetical” or a “rhetorical question” makes a whit of difference. **

    It would come down to language. If it's said that Palin tried to ban books, a lot of people will dismiss that claim as debunked, and thus not focus on any of the important points. If it's said that Palin inquired what would happen *if* she requested that books be banned, then I don't see how that can be disputed.

    I'd be curious as to what changed overnight for Palin, for her to suddenly feel that she did have the librarian's support.

    Regardless of the situation, I'm just glad the librarian said a firm no. Otherwise, we end up in the situation of who determines what is and is not appropriate to be censored.

  6. You understand that all the major commercial media are owned by huge multinational corporations or extremely rich, extremely conservative individuals (e.g. Rupert Murdoch).

    The press is acting completely rationally in terms of furthering the interests of their owners without being so obvious about it that the ordinary people simply disbelieve them.

    The Democratic party officials and elected representatives knows that their own interests lie with these ultra-rich; they dare not challenge the system in any fundamental way, which includes directly addressing the role of the media.

    We have never had a free press nor a democratic electoral system. We have what we have today only because given the economic vacuums of first an underpopulated North American continent and then a devastated Europe made the interests of the rich lie more-or-less in line with the ordinary mass of people. Now that those interests are diverging, it is -- quelle surprise -- the ordinary people who are getting screwed.

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  8. ABC News investigates the book censoring issue. Watch here. It doesn't look good.

  9. You know, it's starting to intrigue me, this whole American thing with the press. It seems like the internet and the blogosphere are becoming some sort of underground press that replaces the networks, but, it seems to me that that the blogosphere is much more comprised of leftist/liberals/democrats. I can also see that this scares the Republicans a bit.

    In Israel, people don't use the internet to get news. Actually, I don't use anything to get news, since I've actually grown tired of hearing horrible stories all the time (even the official papers here are nothing but ancient tabloids)