You calling me a liar?
September 10, 2003 8:32 AM   Subscribe

The dicey dynamics of exposing untruths. An interesting bit in the Columbia Journalism Review on why journalists tend to focus on politicians' small lies and let the big ones slide.
posted by gottabefunky (39 comments total)
[marisa tomei]
Dead-on-balls accurate
[/marisa tomei]

Not the first journalist to notice this, however, as the likes of Eric Alterman and many others have repeatedly noted that the media is all too willing to pick a fight about something trivial- actually attacking a politician for real lies or high crimes would be "partisan", not to mention requiring research and hard work, the anathema to any successful modern journalist. Meaningful conflict is too hard, too difficult, too risky to one's career or the bottom line. Stick to the puff stuff, and dish it out cruelly across the board.
posted by hincandenza at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2003

Nice article, though it was a bit disturbing to see Al Gore's talk of having inspired Love Story listed as a "trivial lie", when in fact Erich Segal, the author of Love Story, corroborated that Gore and his Harvard roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, were indeed the models for the story's main character.
posted by Slothrup at 9:00 AM on September 10, 2003

This is a beautiful example of how poorly the angry left is serving both it's own cause and that of the nation.

Leaving aside the many titanic misstatements & mischaracterizations of the author (that I would have to call lies if I were to use his standards) his premise boils down to: we know that Bush is a cartoonish supervillian attempting to establish a Nazi party/4th Reich in ameriKKKa, but we could save ourselves if reporters would just hammer away at BusHitler hard enough using his many, many "lies" to expose him for what he is. But they don't because they are too timid and foolishly worship at a false shrine of 'objectivity'.

Folks, this is not journalistic commentary, its just political pornography.

Pornography's not all bad, but it's a very poor substitute for the real thing - in this case, a reasoned examination at the many missteps and poor policies of this administration.
posted by Jos Bleau at 9:13 AM on September 10, 2003

Care to explain based on anything the writer of the article actually said, jos bleau, or have you been saving up that little bit of cleverness to unload on a deserving thread?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2003

First misstatement from the piece: "In July, the administration confessed that the president had made false claims in his State of the Union address in January — specifically, his line that Saddam had tried to buy uranium from Africa — and "Uranium-gate" took root."

No, they didn't 'confess' to that. Period. To say that they did is flat out wrong, and for a writer talking about 'lies' this kind of error is pretty damning.

I won't go through the rest of the errors, but that's enough for now.

"For all that, Bush's lying has yet to metastasize into a full-fledged scandal, and it may not." That's what really get's the writer's goat. Everyone doesn't hate Bush as much they should! he seems to be saying.

And he's hopping mad about it, and it must be reporters 'fault! "One principle calls for restraint and evenhandedness, the other for skepticism and zeal." That whole just reporting stories and letting the public make up it's mind thing is doing the job.

So journalistic standards and ethics shouldn't be a constant, but should be elastic, so they can stretch far enough to do whatever it takes to achieve the right political results.

But journos refuse to throw aside their standards and practices for the greater good. It's almost not their fault ... "Often, however, that truth isn't apparent to the lay person or the average reporter but only to experts — scientists, doctors, economists, or scholars."

Of course the truth is that Bush isn't in enough trouble! and the author's hopping mad about it and it's all journalist's fault! Oh wait a minute, we're back to where he started ... with a nod to tax lies again ...

"Whatever the outcome of Uranium-gate, it's dismaying that the conventions of news reporting have combined with the mechanisms of Washington media politics to erect such high barriers to freethinking journalism."

I call this porn because it appeals to cheapest and lowest instincts of the readers. If there is a danger from porn its that it can become such a safe and easy relief that you will disengage from the world, letting the rest of it do what it wants without your input while your whacking off to ReelTeenZ or whatever. And that's all that this really is.
posted by Jos Bleau at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2003

Jos Bleau: So journalistic standards and ethics shouldn't be a constant, but should be elastic, so they can stretch far enough to do whatever it takes to achieve the right political results.

I read the article in entirely the opposite way, which is that reporters are chained to acheiving the "right political results," in that they have to appear to be entirely bi-partisan at all times unless addressing a "trivial" misrepresentation. However, when a political figure or party does something that is actually wrong, journalists are hesistant to refute it because both they and their respective employeers will be cast as political sympathizers rather.

On a less objective note, Jos, I was surprised that you saw the article as politically slanted and primarily discussed it as such. To me, the important part of it was not anything that maligned Bush (true or false), but instead the question of why we don't see more [statistically questionable] policy decisions maligned more often by more reporters.

Of course, I am a student of Journalism, so maybe I am blinding myself to the politics of the piece just so i can see its educational impact on my course of learning ... ?
posted by krisis at 10:29 AM on September 10, 2003

No, they didn't 'confess' to that. Period.

Yes they did. Period.

No, they didn't say the actual words "we lied". They said they included information in the state of the union which was known at the time to be false. Close enough.

Shall we do this with the rest of his bullet points?
posted by ook at 10:30 AM on September 10, 2003

(Ok, poorly worded; I skipped a step. So just to connect all the dots for you: They said they included information which was false. And we know that it was known at the time to be false, as in based on obviously forged documents, because the CIA had already told them so.)

The only one of his bullet points that seems even vaguely questionable is re global warming -- there is some scientific dissent on that one, even if it all seems to be funded by the oil industry. The rest are pretty straightforward and easily verified.
posted by ook at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2003

While no fan of Bush and co, I'm not exactly on board with the whole left and I thought this was one of the most interesting things I've seen on metafilter in weeks. This article is not about Bush or the right per se, Bush is just the example du jour. This is about why the press tends to avoid certain policy discussions, more specifically, why non-policy (and therefore often less weighty) fibs tend to get more attention than policy-related fibs.

This thread shouldn't be about Bush and Co either, except in the context of the article.
posted by weston at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2003

fair point, weston; apologies for the derail.
posted by ook at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2003

ook - you've got to read those links when you post them. Admitting they shouldn't have made a statement is NOT admitting that they used false information. You can make a case that they are liars but you can't make a case that they admitted using false info because they didn't admit that. You have to fudge the truth to say that they said that, no matter how certain you are that they actually lied.

But that's a textbook example of what Greenberg is advocating. People can't be trusted to close the loop and figure out that Bush was lying - so find a way to stretch standards so we can call Bush a liar, no matter what the truth is. That's what he did in his article.

"But in reporting which party's claims are true, sometimes there's one right answer." And it's what Greenberg says it is. And it's journalists' duty to make sure everyone beleives in Greenberg's truth. Becasue Greenberg's truths are right and other people's truths are wrong. And if anyone else has a different idea of truth, they just have to shut up. Media consumers can't be trusted to examine the evidence and figure things out on their own.

Do you really think that the much ravaged credibility of the press will be improved by Sovietizing their ethics, so that achieving negative poll results agianst Bush should trump accuracy or honesty?
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2003

I'd be happy if all of the reporters in the press room would simply refuse to move on until the president/press secretary actually answered a goddamned question.
posted by callmejay at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2003

"But in reporting which party's claims are true, sometimes there's one right answer." And it's what Greenberg says it is.

bullshit. this has nothing to do with the author of the piece, and everything to do with verifying the accuracy or inaccuracy of statements by government officials, or failing to do so.
posted by amberglow at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2003

No, amberglow, you are wrong. The fact that Greenberg doesn't pick a particular episode and deconstruct it, showing who said what when and how it supports his description of how 'truths' are determined or exposed is illustrative.

He doesn't care about that - he cares about results, namely, that "Bush's lying has yet to metastasize into a full-fledged scandal". So his whole piece is about that lack of full-fledged scandal. And who he blames for it. And how to fix it.

Do a thought experiment. Suppose the author of the piece was Jerry Fallwell, and he's complaining about the reporters' failures in exposing the 'lies' of Islam. Remember, Jerry wholeheartedly agrees that "sometimes there's one right answer"! Would you agree with his arguments then? Should journalists find ways around their old fashioned thinking and objectivity standards to serve that goal?
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:31 AM on September 10, 2003

jos, he's talking in general, reporting on journalism's failure to expose lies when they are uttered by a chorus of people in power and with power. He uses a few specific examples to show the lies that are called out, and that those lies aren't important, compared to the lies that aren't challenged by traditional media.

doing your thought experiment would result in all the concrete facts that would belie falwell's position (which is the whole point--if there are concrete facts that disprove something important people are saying, it's journalism's responsibility to report them), something that's not being done when it comes to this administration, or any administration really...woodward and bernstein re::watergate stand out for all of us because they were the exception, not the rule.
posted by amberglow at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2003

and the author mentions Krugman and other op-ed people who DO bring up the concrete facts that show this administration's lies, and the lack of that in the news articles in the same papers.
posted by amberglow at 11:42 AM on September 10, 2003

I don't think the CJR's distinction (little private-behavior CYA lies vs. big deceive-the-dumb-public policy lies) puts its finger on the actual dynamic. The operative difference is between saying what you flat know isn't so ("I am not a crook"; "I did not have sex with that woman") and saying what you sincerely believe to be true because it ought to be true, and then hand-picking, spinning or inventing evidence to support what you say because truth is prior to evidence, not the other way around.

The latter is an instance of thinking like a salesman instead of a scientist, and the public generally doesn't hold politicians (including the President) to a very high standard of scrupulousness when it comes to salesmanship. In fact, we normally expect advocates to be blinded to one degree or another by their own advocacy--and reporters tend not to write "he lied" articles about people who are deceiving themselves, no matter how egregiously. Especially if they maybe aren't too bright to begin with.
posted by jfuller at 11:46 AM on September 10, 2003

Folks, this is not journalistic commentary, it's just political pornography!!!
posted by y2karl at 11:49 AM on September 10, 2003

Y2karl - personal insult and bandwidth theft - way to go!
posted by Jos Bleau at 12:13 PM on September 10, 2003

you can't make a case that they admitted using false info because they didn't admit that.

Jos, that's the most convoluted, circular reasoning I've ever heard. They used the info, then later admitted that they shouldn't have used it, because it wasn't true. In what way is that not "admitting using false info?"

the administration released a statement that, after weeks of questions about the president's uranium-purchase assertion, effectively conceded that intelligence underlying the president's statement was wrong.

How much more straightforward do we have to get, here?

There are cases, like your Jerry Falwell example, where a "lie" is a difference of opinion. But this isn't one of them; this is a verifiable fact. The documents were false, they were known to be false, they were used anyway.

In fact, this very discussion seems to support Greenberg's point, that journalists shy away from issues "where raising questions of truthfulness can seem awfully close to taking sides in a partisan debate". This is a perfect example. It's a partisan issue, so even though it's provable, inarguable fact, you're still dismissing it as axe-grinding.

You're characterizing this article as something that just isn't there. Greenberg isn't calling for "Sovietization" of journalistic ethics, he's not asking for journalists to slant the truth. I honestly have no idea how you're able to read the article and draw that conclusion.
posted by ook at 12:27 PM on September 10, 2003

I would very much be interested in everyone's take on this article without the cocky partisan strutting, if possible. If you strike the Bush-related content from the article, and just read it as a critique of journalists ability and willingness to call Politicians onto the floor on half-truths and misrepresentations, what are your thoughts? [Troll] Can any of you manage to have a non-partisan thought? [/Troll]

When I do this, a few things occur to me. One is that many journalists may pitch these stories, only to be shot down by their "fairness-minded" editors who don't want to run anything with a "slant." (Or, even more insidious, the editor knows their paper has an actual slant that is in opposite of the "slant" of the article.)

A great example of this are tax cuts. Many local and federal tax cuts claim to go easy on the poor or the middle class, but obviously not all of them are telling the whole truth. Papers often recount the PR-office version of the tax cut standards verbatim, but how often do you see a paper state, "Though the official release indicates a percentage break for all persons XX, it is actually only targeted as persons XX who claim YY and ZZ, which is only 2.9% of persons XX."

Am I just reading the wrong papers? Are there any MeFi-journalists who can attest to getting their stat-savvy politician-critical rebuttals shot down by management?
I could go on, but this post is lengthy enough as it is. Interested in all of your thoughts/comments, minus any "slant." [wink]
posted by krisis at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2003

krisis, I can't speak for any of the other MeFi-journalists, but if there were, say, any who had their stat-savvy politician-critical rebuttals shot down by management, they'd likely be wary of blabbing them here, even if they're currently not working for the same management. As someone who's spent a lot of time in newsrooms, though, there are many factors that can work against this, and one is what might be called a "herd mentality." Nuff blabbed.

As earnest as you and others are about keeping the "partisan" discussion out of this, I see it as very germane, because the current administration has based their entire PR strategy around this phenomenon. Remember when Bush finally got into office and there was a consensus from the punditry that he would be a very moderate, hands-off president because of the awareness that he had no public mandate? Long before 9/11 he and his pals trashed that idea with some of the most amazingly strident, divisive and forceful politicking in years. And remember that the "sixteen little words" controversy, or "Uranium-gate," is just one of a patchwork of lies the administration told to sell the already-decided-on war against Iraq. They knew the game: The more lies you tell, and the louder you tell 'em, the harder it is for anyone to be heard yelling "bullshit!"
posted by soyjoy at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2003

"They used the info, then later admitted that they shouldn't have used it, because it wasn't true. In what way is that not "admitting using false info?"

I'm not arguing that the Bushies told the truth - I'm saying that they didn't (and have never) admitted they they used false information. You can prove all day long they are should have known and are evil liars but you can't prove that they admitted using false info in the speech.

I don't remember this story being undercovered at the time, and there were no shortage of journalistic voices who were spelling out loud and clear that Bush Lied! - but those journalists were at The Nation & Counterpunch.

What Greenberg is advocating is a political results defined standard of journalism (no metastasizing scandal yet - try changing cognitive approaches!), and uses a few cognitive thinking arguments to show how to get there. And ultimately that's what this is about - making all journalism into wing-nut journalism of the Nation/Counterpunch variety. Diversity in journalism is good, not bad, even though that means a lot journalists don't think the way Greenberg wants.

And the comparison to Fallwell is accurate. When Bush said "Islam is a religion of peace" he attacked not just Bush as a liar but the press using the same arguments as Greenberg. Oh, he called it "political correctness" but you could easily restate that as the received notions of fairness and truth that Greenberg talks about. And just like Greenberg, he knows what's true and is hopping mad that the press won't do a better job of spreading his truth.
posted by Jos Bleau at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2003

Well, it's not as if i'm asking them to reprint the shot-down article here, just mention that it has happened to them...

As for your Bush paragraph, soyjoy, it might be a germaine discussion, but to assume it's a germaine discussion in the context of this article assumes that the author was trying to call Bush a liar rather than trying to call the newsmedia a coward. I expect every PR office/strategy to lie with equal conviction, and political PR doubly so. Bush's PR is no exception. That's a good enough basis for the article for me.

Jos, on your "diversity" comment, i don't understand how a critical research based approach to daily reporting could result in all papers turning out "Wing-Nut Journalism." I think right now paper's lack this sort of Critical Reasoning a) because of their fear of appearing slanted against every Politician that they successfully refute and b) The general apathy/stupidity of the American public, which really doesn't care to see footnotes on their front pages.

Or, is your point that each paper will gravitate to a group of sources that most accurately reflects the political point they want to push, and so the Greenberg solution actually just makes wing-nut partisanship of the Counterpunch/Nation variety easier to defend as "sourced reporting" ?

Maybe this is why I usually just lurk...
posted by krisis at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2003

Greenberg gives lack of metastasizing scandal as his reason for writing the article. He then goes on to elucidate the professional standards and cognitive factors that, in essence, separate mainstream journalists from wingnut journalists.

It seems to me his logic is: no Bush impeachment so traditional journalistic standards aren't up to the task. But this is defining your ethics solely as the ends justifying the means. If you think journalists should be prosecutors, this probably makes a lot of sense. If you think there is a big universal truth out there that you can see that other can't, and that they therefore must have been mislead somehow, this probably makes a lot of sense. Well, this is a form of advocatorial journalism, and your are welcome to it if that's what you want.

But journalism is a very diverse field, and there are many other approaches to the subject. Consumers have many choices, and the fact that very few consume wing-nut journalism (from any and all wings) probably means that they value those old-fashioned ethics and practices, as flawed as they are.

If you have a not-as-popular-as-you'de-like revealed truth that probably makes you angry. Greenberg and Fallwell are alike in having under-loved revealed truths. I reject any form of journalistic practice aimed at robbing me of truths that some don't agree with, which, if Greenberg got his way, I'm sure would be the case.

"The current rules end up encouraging media hysteria about personal lies of scant importance and deterring inquiry into topics that matter incalculably more."

Yes, it is dreadful that people don't demand more of kind of coverage that Greenberg demands, but it would be worse if that was all there was to choose from.
posted by Jos Bleau at 1:44 PM on September 10, 2003

Here to put an end to it and clarify, this is what Condoleezza Rice said, "We wouldn't put anything knowingly in the speech that was false; I'm sure they wouldn't put anything knowingly in the speech that was false. In this case, this particular line shouldn't have gotten in because it was not of the quality that we would put into presidential speeches."

Now Jos Bleau is exactly correct. President Bush himself has never said that his statement was incorrect, and this statement is the strongest made by the administration.

However, aren't hijinks like this the exact point of the article? This is the kind of issue we should call the President, but no one is. It's nice that Condoleezza agrees that factual known non-truths (or 'lies' but I don't want to sound partisan) shouldn't be in the Presidents speeches, but there's been no apology or even an admission of wrong doing. What credibility does anything the President say have when these kind of inaccuracies fill his and his administration statements to the public, and, to bring all this back on topic, where are the Journalist showing that this is a calculated attempt to mislead?

Accountability is the core of the republic. Every action the President takes to remove his accountability weakens our republic. The fourth estate has a job here, and it's failing at it.
posted by betaray at 1:51 PM on September 10, 2003

jfuller, I was thinking along similar lines. It's not so much the triviality of the lie, as the motivation for it. If a politician (or anyone) lies to save their own skin or further their personal ambition -- if the motivation is personal -- then journalists gleefully jump all over it (and they're not the only ones). But if they lie to further some broader agenda, well, that doesn't sell quite as many newspapers.

Jos, The article's talk of Bush's "teflon coating" and the lack of a scandal doesn't really belong, yes -- whether or not this is a scandal isn't really for journalists to decide. But the media really should consider it their responsibility to inform their readers of the discrepancies between Bush's claims and reality (whatever they may be). Some lying might be part of "politics as usual", but it shouldn't necessarily be reported that way.
posted by mattpfeff at 1:58 PM on September 10, 2003

"aren't hijinks like this the exact point of the article?" So the answer to presidential untruth is reportorial untruth? Untruth being a fair way to spin to the statements wrongly attributed to the Bushies by Greenberg.

betray, there's no shortage of journalistic voices trying to do just what you want - they're not just very popular. The Greenberg solution is to change journalistic standards and retrain reporters to think differently so that other voices aren't heard.

Shouldn't media consumers get to choose the voices they hear, rather than having Greenberg's as the only option?
posted by Jos Bleau at 2:05 PM on September 10, 2003

The Greenberg solution is to change journalistic standards and retrain reporters to think differently so that other voices aren't heard.

nope. the greenberg solution is for journalists to verify what it is that they're told, not just go to the opposition for a quote. I believe that's been a basic rule of journalism for quite some time.
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on September 10, 2003

krisis, check out this story I just came across...

Number of U.S. Troops in Iraq Is 116,000
    The number of American troops deployed in Iraq is nearly 116,000, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said Wednesday. That is at least 10,000 less than previously believed. As recently as last week, the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq was believed to be between 125,000 and 130,000. The coalition spokesman, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, did not explain the reduced figure, but his disclosure comes as the U.N. Security Council considers a U.S. draft resolution calling for a multinational force to join the American-led coalition. (my emphasis)
Gosh, isn't that odd? Somehow this "belief" that there were 125,000 troops just took hold somewhere with no root cause. Or somehow the writer couldn't find any previous authoritative source of information that explicitly stated there were 125,000 troops. Because if there had been an actual agent stating this, rather than an amorphous "belief" floating through the ether, someone in power would've had to LIE. This is journalism?

There's nothing exceptional about this kind of thing; I see it every day. Do you?
posted by soyjoy at 2:22 PM on September 10, 2003

Jos: Point taken, and agreed (well, at least from a general standpoint; personally, i tend to be of the advocatorial persuasion). Thank you for taking the time to elaborate.

SoyJoy: Point being that some statistics come directly from sources that cannot be checked or effectively refuted? Or, point being that the writer used the word "believed" erroneously? Or, point being that the writer used the word "believed" specifically so as to make the article about the statistic, rather than about where the old statistic came from and why it was incorrect?

Point being, i guess, that i don't see your point.
posted by krisis at 4:09 PM on September 10, 2003

Jos Bleau: I'm tying to figure out where you're coming from here. I reread your posts. I reread the article. I mulled. I pondered. Now, what it seems to me is that your problem is here:

"Bound by professional strictures, news reporters can wind up giving a lie the same weight as the truth, while it falls to opinion writers to note when a president has lied about his tax cuts or stem-cell research policy."

He repeatedly encourages being even handed on opinions. ("In discussing which party's policies are preferable, this evenhandedness makes sense.") However, what he and I would both like to see is more people in charge being confronted on the assumptions and facts that they use to base those opinions. What is your problem with this approach? Do you deny the existence of an objective truth?

Also, please point me to where he argues for drowning out other voices. He does argue that we should discredit people use inaccurate either because of malice or incompetence to reach their opinions, do you disagree with that approach?
posted by betaray at 4:52 PM on September 10, 2003

A quick example, who cares if the President that there are WMD in Iraq. What's important is why he believes that, and if it turns out the facts that he is basing that belief upon turn out to be false, then we can use that information to decide how to vote or what to write our congressman. I know there are lots of journalist out there doing this kind of investigation, but these days if the facts don't line up with the prevailing opinion they are reported. This is why the average American is so under informed about the complexities of most issues that are confront of our legislature today.
posted by betaray at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2003

(sorry, didn't proof read well enough)
...if the President believes that there....
...prevailing opinion they are not reported...

and for clarification I'm referring specifically to the American media in my posts.
posted by betaray at 5:00 PM on September 10, 2003

krisis, re soyjoy's example: the story is not solely about the new number, or the author would not have mentioned the old number at all. The story is at least partly about the difference between the old and the new numbers. If you mention the old number, you have to put it into some context: who believed it, and why? Perhaps "it was believed" by my senile grandmother that the number of troops was 15 million, or zero. That wouldn't be a story. This is only a story because the previous number came from a supposedly-reliable source. The author is going through a contortion to keep the "belief" in the passive voice, so as not to describe its source. Why not write "at least 10,000 less than previously stated"? Or "As recently as last week, Pentagon officials said more than 125,000 U.S. soldiers were in Iraq."[1] Phrased that way, it's more accurate, no more lengthy, and more readable.

[1] I took that figure and attribution from the link in soyjoy's post. I would expect a real reporter to double-check it.

And while I'm at it, I want to say that I agree with what I think is Jos Bleu's underlying point: it's hypocritical to lambaste politicians for lying, and to use falsehoods or half-truths or incomplete chains of logic (no matter how small) to do so.
posted by hattifattener at 5:17 PM on September 10, 2003

Just in this thread you can see the difficulties in comming to agreement on some very simple statements & questions of fact.

Greenberg concludes "it's dismaying that the conventions of news reporting have combined with the mechanisms of Washington media politics to erect such high barriers to freethinking journalism. The current rules end up encouraging media hysteria about personal lies of scant importance and deterring inquiry into topics that matter incalculably more."

Whee reporters write about what people do and say, that is news. And that's very hard to get right as it is. When reporters say what news means that is commentary. That's even harder, because some will see glasses as half full and others as half empty. Abandoning 'old' ethics to make sure that everyone has the sames 'correct' view of the glasses' contents as the reporter does, instead of simply providing the info people need to decide for themselves, will destroy journalism.

I would think that a textbook case for Greenberg's new standards are the case of Mr. Gilligan & the BBC. It now appears that Gilligan didn't let old journalistic codes influence his reporting, and that may very well cost the BBC some or all of its independence, not to mention credibility.

So how's Greenberg's new freethinking journalistic standards working out for them?
posted by Jos Bleau at 7:00 PM on September 10, 2003

Things are looking far better for the BBC than for Downing Street. There's a situation where reporting a Big Lie may well bring down a government.
posted by y2karl at 7:27 PM on September 10, 2003


So making up stuff is paying off for Beeb?

Funny how they don't think so ...

But whether sexing up 'the truth' Gilligan style will get you in trouble is ulitmately not the issue - Greenberg's advocating it as a new freethinking journalists' standard is.
posted by Jos Bleau at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2003

we normally expect advocates to be blinded to one degree or another by their own advocacy--and reporters tend not to write "he lied" articles about people who are deceiving themselves, no matter how egregiously.

Well, almost. I think it's worse than that. As the Hutton enquiry has shown, the UK government provably lied again and again, yet Labour is gaining in the polls. It seems the general public doesn't care if politicians lie egregiously as long as the result is right. Personally, I don't like being treated like an idiot.
posted by Summer at 3:36 AM on September 12, 2003

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