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The blue state Sarah Palin
October 7, 2009 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Michelle Cottle takes a look at the rise of Betsy "Death Panels" McCaughey - No Exit: The never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey: Since her earliest days in the spotlight, McCaughey has presented herself as a just-the-facts-please, above-the-fray political outsider. In reality, she has proved devastatingly adept at manipulating charts and stats to suit her ideological (and personal) ambitions.

No stranger to falsehoods Elizabeth "Betsy" McCaughey, played a pivotal role in the takedown of the Clinton health care reform plan in 1994, on the very same pages that Cottle's piece appeared on October 5. The assertions she made in that '94 piece were shown to have been heavily influenced by Big Tobacco in a recent Rolling Stone piece (excerpt only), and were debunked far too late by James Fallows. McCaughey responded to those accusations by attacking Rolling Stone for accepting tobacco advertisements. The RS journalist responded in kind, pointing out, among other items, a thank-you letter to The Tobacco Institute for their help in getting the Pataki/McCaughey ticket elected in New York's 1994 gubernatorial race. (Previously)
posted by IvoShandor (48 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, the difference is that when you lie using statistics, it's a lot harder to debunk for most people, many people can't understand the explanation of why it's wrong (or aren't willing to spend the time to understand it), and if justifies their preexsting biases, they'll just discount it.

Anyone can understand Palin's lies.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, I knew this all along, but gee, there really are a lot of wankers on this planet, aren't there?
posted by turgid dahlia at 12:58 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


MSNBC debates healthcare reform: Betsey McCaughey and Congressman Anthony Weiner with host Dylan Ratigan on October 6, 2009
Weiner and McCaughey on reading the bealthcare reform bill and their full one hour 20 minute debate on October 5, 2009
posted by netbros at 1:34 AM on October 7, 2009


The exile take on the MSNBC interview: Vicodin For The Soul: Watch Betsy McCaughey Scream “I’m Melting!” As Dylan Ratigan Unhinges “The Woman Who Killed Health Care”.

Ames, how admirably you rage.
posted by jaduncan at 2:04 AM on October 7, 2009


Wow, Dylan totally took apart that fucking liar, piece by piece. Like the insurance companies she works for and all the scumbags who scare the public into defending the status quo, she just cannot answer a direct question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:25 AM on October 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Fixed Exile link.
posted by atrazine at 2:37 AM on October 7, 2009


Thanks for that, atrazine. Any mods want to alter the original?
posted by jaduncan at 3:17 AM on October 7, 2009


How do liars like these sleep at night? BIG PILE OF MONEY HURF DURF, but seriously. I can't wait for a sociopathy vaccine to be invented.
posted by DU at 3:18 AM on October 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


In reality, she has proved devastatingly adept at manipulating charts and stats

"Devastatingly adept" is my new favorite pseudocompliment.
posted by rokusan at 3:32 AM on October 7, 2009


I mean, I knew this all along, but gee, there really are a lot of wankers on this planet, aren't there?

Yes, there are.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:49 AM on October 7, 2009


Mad props to Dylan Ratigan for that "interview". I saw it live and have watched it 4 or 5 times since. Ratigan is so frustrating; he's a smart guy but he tends to come off as very obnoxious. Regardless, we need more reporters willing to hold people's feet to the fire when they are obviously dissembling. Too many newspeople ask a question once or twice and lamely accept whatever bullshit response they get. ( Side note: I just finished reading the excellent Bill Moyers on Democracy. In the book, Mr. Moyers says that news is getting information that other people don't want you to know; all the rest is noise.)

Betsy McCaughey is a corporate shill and has been since day 1. She's the worst kind of liar - she smiles, looks you in the face, and smugly presents herself as the expert while calling you crazy for not agreeing with her. What's worse is a lot of people buy her schtick. Fuck her and her corporate overlords.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:12 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


DEATH PANELS DEATH MATCH is one of the infographics on this segment. Really, MSNBC? Can you just take this seriously for 13 fucking minutes?
posted by stargell at 5:20 AM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Mr. Moyers says that news is getting information that other people don't want you to know; all the rest is noise.)

He stole that quote from Lord Northcliffe, a 1920s British press tycoon. With one telling modification: Northcliffe didn't say "noise". He said "advertising".
posted by Skeptic at 5:45 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


He stole that quote from Lord Northcliffe, a 1920s British press tycoon. With one telling modification: Northcliffe didn't say "noise". He said "advertising"

I don't have the book with me right now, but I'm sure Moyers credited it. (Working from memory is not as easy as it used to be.) Moyers is impeccably honest and he quotes a lot of people in the book, so the mistake is all mine.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:53 AM on October 7, 2009


The article is a coherent take down, but it's too proud of itself by half. It describes McCaughey's nose as "pert"; if that Joe Camel nose is pert, I am the Queen of France.
posted by notsnot at 6:45 AM on October 7, 2009


Is ObamaCare really becoming the accepted term? It's a bill being made up by members of the House and Senate, while Obama is just setting out guidelines for what he'd like in the final product. Calling it "ObamaCare" just gives the bill's opponents power, as they think Obama is unlikeable, so the bill, by extension is unlikeable. Granted, that's not what 50% of the nation thinks, so...

And if the Republicans feel the need to pitch their own plan (ie they finish one that actually thinks out all the details like HR 3200), I am going to call it BoehnerCare and carry signs at rallies saying stuff like, "Keep your BoehnerCare away from my Gramma!" It'll be as popular as a garlic milkshake.

Protip: My last link has an epic retort to Boehner's remark re: public option. Also, we need a MeFood section to devise a good recipe for a garlic milkshake.

/pony

posted by mccarty.tim at 6:48 AM on October 7, 2009


One of the really scary things about McCaughey's career is that--in spite of a long, very public flame-out of her political career, including a Palinesque estrangement from her political partner, former NY governor George Pataki--people are still treating her as if she's some sort of genius, instead of this paranoid, vindictive loon. Doesn't bode well for my hope that people will just get tired of Palin one day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:53 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I know it's totally juvenile but I cannot see that man's name and not have my brain pronounces 'Boner'.

Which makes the concept of 'BoehnerCare' even. that. much. more. wrong.
posted by mephron at 6:53 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


See her quibble with Jon Stewart, and drop a few of those trademark baldfaced lies. Part 1; Part 2.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:55 AM on October 7, 2009


I'm on the public option side of the debate. I believe the present system is a game to funnel money to the insurance industry, such that it is. I also don't really watch TV except for what comes my way through the Internet. Ratigan was unknown to me until today. I come from an academic background.

Ratigan's interview techniques is worse than useless. Rather than pay McCaughey enough rope to hang herself, he tightens his rhetorical noose to the show's viewers not letting them decide for themselves how full of it she is.

Let the responder dissemble and *then* break it down. Otherwise, you leave neutral fact-seeking viewers with the impression that you have an agenda, however righteous that agenda may be.
posted by mistersquid at 7:00 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think she's some sort of zombie. I watched Maddow talk about this last night, and play clips from the Weiner debate and the Ratigan interview, and Maddow talked about McCaughey "going down in flames" and I just don't believe it. She's been flat-out accused of lying more than once, and she just keeps rising back up and saying the same shit again and again.
posted by rtha at 7:01 AM on October 7, 2009


I'm a little confused about what she is now basing all of her arguments on. In the stewart interview from last month it was the death-panels bullshit. Now that that nonsense has mostly died down, what's her primary criticism? She didn't really answer in the ratigan interview, not that he she could get a word in edgewise.

It's kind of nice to see that interview and the Shep Smith v. R Wyoming in the same day - some of the media seems to have finally had enough. . . or finally caught on to the fact that most of the population supports the public option.
posted by Think_Long at 7:02 AM on October 7, 2009


What's odd in that Stewart interview is that she hardly ever looks at him when she's speaking, and instead turns to the audience and starts blathering. Deep down there might be some vestiges of a conscience that causes her too much pain to lie directly while looking in someone's eyes.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:06 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think I'd like to be a known crazy lady some day.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:11 AM on October 7, 2009


Make that well-known crazy lady. Shoot for the moon, I say.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:11 AM on October 7, 2009


Let the responder dissemble and *then* break it down.

In most cases, I would wholeheartedly agree with you. But this "lady" has beeing spewing the same nonsense for more than fifteen years. Same tactics, same fearmongering, same "go-to" responses and sidetracks. Journalists have been handing her rope for years, but haven't let her hang herself.

Even though Ratigan and Weiner may have appeared to get short with her, I saw a shill who absolutely refused to directly answer direct questions or rebut any facts.

YMMV, of course.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:25 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh my that MSNBC video is fantastic to watch.
posted by Skorgu at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2009


Halloween Jack: " Doesn't bode well for my hope that people will just get tired of Palin one day."

You may have noticed that Pat Buchanan still shows up on TV a lot.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:44 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


The TNR article about McCaughey describing her as basically an engine of persistent willful obtuseness and dishonesty made me realize that she's just a real-life version of an internet troll.
posted by deanc at 8:07 AM on October 7, 2009


I love the phrase corporate communism in the clip. That's a meme that should definitely spread - it's as catchy as death panels. Beat them at their own game people.
posted by treblekicker at 8:16 AM on October 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


I like how her only defense in that 10 minute interview is "you're such an unfair moderator", "you're a partisan". It's really telling the degree to which she's knowingly trying to abuse the 'balance' of the mainstream media by demanding her lies get equal time with reality. All in the pursuit of more money and power for herself (and the people footing her bills) at the expense of tens of thousands of Americans dead every year

Betsy McCaughey, rotting husk of a human soul
posted by crayz at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2009


But this "lady" has beeing spewing the same nonsense for more than fifteen years. Same tactics, same fearmongering, same "go-to" responses and sidetracks.

Well, when you have a winning game-plan, why should you deviate from it? It's long been true, at least in the US, that if you yell the loud and long enough, and wrap your rhetoric in enough populist/patriotic veneer (and toss-in just enough fear), that you will carry the day. Or, at the very least, exert enough influence on the outcome to be comfortable with the results.

And, most importantly, it doesn't really matter if you're pushing lies. The US public really isn't sophisticated enough to discern lies, half-truths, ambiguity, deflection, details, etc. They just aren't. They respond to easily digested images and tropes. That's why the right leans so heavily on patriotic imagery, appeals to "common sense," scare-mongering about socialism, liberalism, government, etc. These are triggers that the right has spent the better part of 50 years drumming into the American psyche. The shit works. Over and over.

I think the only reason you have any kind of push-back on this shit now is that many Americans are having real discordant events in their brains where they are trying to reconcile the message they've swallowed from the right vis-a-vis healthcare reform (Obamacare), and what they are actually experiencing in their lives, i.e. untenable insurance and doctor bills. Extreme shills like McCaughey are shock-troops sent to hammer that status-quo nail back into those numb middle-class heads.

Journalists have been handing her rope for years, but haven't let her hang herself.

Why would you hang a ratings-booster? Shrill voices like McCaughey are great tv. Hell, if she wasn't such a single-issue flack, she could have her own show. The next Nancy Grace.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:23 AM on October 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


" Doesn't bode well for my hope that people will just get tired of Palin one day."

Doesn't matter what side of the spectrum you are on, if you can consistently provide spectacle, if you provoke, either by telling lies or telling the truth, if you get people outraged at you or with you, you'll will never, never die in the media's eyes. That is what they want and that is what people like Palin, Bauchmann, McCaughey provide. Hey, want a nice story to flesh out the webpage, go ask Bauchmann her opinion on X (well anything really). You'll get something outrageous.

Hells bells looking at Betsy McCaughey's wiki it seems pretty evident she is a wholly partisan shill, additionally she interjects herself into all manners of racial issues/topics, she hates the Voting Rights act, loves her some Clarance (whats a question?) Thomas, and is all over preserving the dysfunctional status quo on health care.
posted by edgeways at 8:39 AM on October 7, 2009


From the 2nd link:

Friends posit it's her disconcerting blend of brains, beauty, and confidence. Detractors chalk it up to her rank dishonesty, narcissism, and lack of shame.

Yup, I'd call that divisive. How do you neutralize a voice like Ms. McCaughey's, short of cutting her tongue out?

And to clarify:

“News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising.” (Lord Northcliffe)

Which raises the question: does this make Ms. McCaughey's blather "news"? Because I'd certainly like to see it suppressed.
posted by philip-random at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2009


I like the term "Corporate Communism" from that MSNBC video. Hope the Democrats pick up on that more when the other side starts shouting about socialism.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:49 AM on October 7, 2009


From the video:

Ratigan: If you would stop being a name-caller-
McCaughey: You're the one who's the name caller!

This is why I feel sorry for Stewart and Colbert. Sometimes satire isn't nearly as funny as what people actually say.
posted by Ndwright at 9:11 AM on October 7, 2009


That video is both enjoyable and so frustrating. I do not miss cable TV "news." I wish it were dying instead of newspapers.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:30 AM on October 7, 2009


Yeah, after the MSNBC clip I was struck by the maturity of the Stewart clip. The comedy is on MSNBC and the news in on Comedy Central - bizarro!
posted by dgbellak at 9:40 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doesn't matter what side of the spectrum you are on, if you can consistently provide spectacle, if you provoke, either by telling lies or telling the truth, if you get people outraged at you or with you, you'll will never, never die in the media's eyes. That is what they want and that is what people like Palin, Bauchmann, McCaughey provide.
Hmmm.
posted by Flunkie at 9:45 AM on October 7, 2009


philip-random : How do you neutralize a voice like Ms. McCaughey's, short of cutting her tongue out?

Wait, is this an option? Because there are a bunch of these one note shrill whistles I'd like to figure out a way to shut up.

Once logical refutation, earnest attempts at finding a reasonable middle ground and just outright ignoring them proved ineffective, I've grown more willing to consider some outside the fucking box solutions.
posted by quin at 10:33 AM on October 7, 2009


What's odd in that Stewart interview is that she hardly ever looks at him when she's speaking, and instead turns to the audience and starts blathering. Deep down there might be some vestiges of a conscience that causes her too much pain to lie directly while looking in someone's eyes.

I don't think that's it at all. I think she's playing to an audience.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:17 AM on October 7, 2009


"Smart, devastatingly adept, clever, convincing" isn't it depressing that she is considered all these things? Not to Godwin, but when I listen to people like her, or "you know who", old recordings of Father Coughlin, broadcasts by the current yahoos etc., not ever do I catch myself thinking "wow, how very eloquent, how very true, how convincing". I merely think "what hopeless lame lies - how can they possibly convince anyone??". The fact that demagogues are effective is all 100% down to... well, I struggled to be as diplomatic and PC as possible, but the hell with it - DUMB FUCKS.

The glory and peril of democracy. What I ponder frequently is the old chestnut of "you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time". Your reaction to this quote says a lot about your world view. The quote strikes me as coming from an optimist. Personally, I've grown somewhat more pessimistic than I've started out in my life, some 40+ years ago. Some would say that you can fool an awful lot of people for all of the time. Misanthropes would say that there's a mere handful, statistical noise, of those who won't be fooled. How you apportion the numbers, well, there you are in your bitterness index.

I must admit, in my darker moments, I've grown pessimistic about the viability of democracy as a system given the challenges we face over the coming decades. Not that anything else humanity has tried is any better ("worst system except for all the others" etc.). But more and more I think we need to try for a better system. Democracy supplanted inferior systems. Now its limitations may be fatal. Something better needs to supplant it, before it's too late. And the fact that this inept liar, Betsy McCaughey, is effective at all, at all, the least bit, instead of being laughed out of the room, is proof enough for me, that there are some fatal flaws in our system.
posted by VikingSword at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is ObamaCare really becoming the accepted term? It's a bill being made up by members of the House and Senate, while Obama is just setting out guidelines for what he'd like in the final product. Calling it "ObamaCare" just gives the bill's opponents power, as they think Obama is unlikeable, so the bill, by extension is unlikeable.

Um, right, but like you pointed out, Obama is not unpopular. Not only is it a short-term bad strategy, because people like Obama and are actually more likely to support something with that name. It's also a bad strategy in the long term. It would be a disaster for republicans if this gets called "ObamaCare" in the long run. What would happen 5, 10, 15 years later when people are actually on this plan and actually like it?

Of course, we know the democrats would shy away from calling it "ObamaCare" once it passes because they are such pussies.
posted by delmoi at 12:10 PM on October 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


How do you neutralize a voice like Ms. McCaughey's

NTSFOITOWTBS.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2009


It also appears as one of the sneaky jokes they slipped into Arrested Development. Michael and GOB are standing around talking about a boat that GOB has called the Seaward and Michael says something about "Getting rid of the Seaward" and their mother snaps, I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE.

If anyone wants to relive scenes from Arrested Development with me, I'll be in the bar. Also, pretty much constant Simpsons references. My kid is going to hate her parents as a teenager. It's going to be one long eyeroll from twelve years old to, say, twenty-four.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:35 PM on October 7, 2009 [4 favorites]




[comments removed - metatalk please, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 12:43 PM on October 7, 2009


I swear, cable news has enough flashing lights and moving graphics that I'm surprised half of America isn't suffering fits of epilepsy. Why the hell can't we just focus on the freakin' faces, let us focus on the people who are talking?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 AM on October 8, 2009


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