Saturday, September 8, 2012

What Happened To Our Referees?

Remember the fact-checking frenzy that was all over the media last week regarding the speech delivered by Rep. Paul Ryan? Every major news outlet was all over it. You couldn't turn on the television or radio, or open a newspaper, without hearing or reading about how Mr. Ryan's speech contained several distortions of the truth, misleading statements, and outright lies.

And, it did. Sorry, Republican faithful. It did. Mr. Ryan's speech was filled with falsehoods. In fact, I'm quite sure he and the Romney/Ryan campaign gurus were well aware of that fact, and they proceeded with the less-than-truthful speech anyway. They are trying to win an election, and winning an election in America these days is far more important than speaking the truth. Winning an election is about carefully selected talking points meant to scratch itching ears that will hopefully lead to votes, the truth be damned. It's about doing whatever needs to be done and saying whatever needs to be said to convince people that your opponent is a villain and you are just what our country needs. Mr. Ryan is a politician. He is playing the game, the goal of which is to win. He cannot be sidetracked by something as insignificant as the truth. It's a game, folks, and it's played by both sides. We all know it. So do the politicians who seek our votes.

So, Mr. Ryan lied. He did. Let's just be honest and admit it. He lied like many of the Obama television ads that have run to date have been proven to be outright lies. He lied like Mitt Romney lied, who lied like President Clinton, Vice President Biden, and President Obama lied at their convention. None of them are even trying to convince you with the truth; they're all simply trying to persuade you to vote for them and will tell you what they think you want to hear, which is determined by their respective think-tanks, in order to accomplish that goal. Lying and deceiving is just a part of the process. You do whatever it takes to win. The truth really has nothing at all to do with it.

The truth is that American politics has become nothing more than a sport. The politicians are the players who play the game; their campaign managers are the head coaches, who consult with their many assistant coaches (political strategists, communications experts, etc.) and develop a game-plan; Fox News is the cheerleading squad for the Republicans, MSNBC for the Democrats; we are the fans. The game is played and we root for our teams. But, where are the referees?

The refs have traditionally been the media, but those days have long since passed us by. It used to be that the networks and major newspapers around our country would report the news and stick to the facts. They used to take pride in leaving their personal biases aside, being careful not to skew their reporting in a way that would reveal their personal endorsements of various political candidates. No, they never did this perfectly (bias would come through here and there), but at least they used to try. Not anymore. We don't get news these days; we get commentary. We don't get facts; we get spin and talking points, and not just from the obvious suspects on Fox and MSNBC, but even from the networks and other supposed-to-be unbiased news outlets.

Case in point: How much did you hear yesterday from the mass media about Sandra Fluke's speech, which she delivered Thursday night, and which you can watch in the video above? Where was the fact-checking frenzy on that one? Ryan stretched the truth and delivered some falsehoods in his speech last week and the media went nuts - and, rightly so! But, where were they yesterday to correct the litany of lies told by Ms. Fluke?

One may argue that this is an unfair comparison, since Ms. Fluke is just a Democrat supporter, while Mr. Ryan is the Republican Vice Presidential candidate.I would buy that, except for the fact that the lies told by Ms. Fluke during her speech are the same lies that have been repeated ad nauseum by the Democrats over the last several months, and the media has done nothing to correct them.

Those lies began earlier this year when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing and heard from witnesses who believed that the HHS mandate requiring all insurance companies, even those run by religious institutions, to cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations violated their religious freedom. The lying began that very day, as Nancy Pelosi and many other Democrats went before the cameras and falsely claimed that a) the hearing was about contraception, b) no women were allowed on the panel, and c) Ms. Sandra Fluke was shut out by the Republicans. Perhaps you remember all the headlines that appeared the following day: "Where Are the Women?"; "All-Male Birth Control Panel"; "Women Barred from All-Male Panel," etc. Heck, even Saturday Night Live got in the act later that week, doing a sketch that followed the lies told by the Democrats and repeated everywhere in the media.

And so, because these lies were never corrected by the media, Ms. Fluke felt perfectly comfortable taking the stage a couple of nights ago to bring these lies back to the surface. She began her speech by saying,
"Some of you may remember that earlier this year, Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception. In fact, on that panel, they didn’t hear from a single woman, even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman." 
Here, let me do some fact-checking, since the media is not interested in doing so:

Fact-check #1 - The Republicans did not shut Ms. Fluke out of that hearing in February. In fact, the Democrats did not submit her name until well after the deadline had passed to submit potential witnesses. In fact, the Democrats did not submit any names until after the deadline had passed. They did this on purpose. It was strategy. They knew that if they waited until the last minute, until after the deadline had passed, the Republicans would probably deny their witnesses and they could moan about it to the media. Also, while they did not allow Ms. Fluke to testify at the hearing, since a) her name had not been submitted on time and b) she wanted to testify about contraception and had no qualifications to testify about religious freedom, the Republicans did post a lengthy video on this House Committee's website of Ms. Fluke delivering a speech about contraception. Finally, the Republicans did allow another Democratic witness to testify, who was going to testify about religious freedom, even though his name was submitted late as well, but, wonder of wonders, he was a no show.

Fact-check #2 - Ms. Fluke claims that she was shut out of a hearing on contraception. In fact, the hearing was not on contraception; it was on freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. Amazingly, the media never even attempted to correct that, as the headlines noted above show. They still haven't. So, Ms. Fluke can comfortably repeat this lie, knowing that it will not only not be corrected, but will actually be happily repeated by the media.

Fact-check #3 - Ms. Fluke says, "In fact, on that panel, they didn't hear from a single woman, even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman." One wonders if Ms. Fluke understands what the word fact means, since, in actual fact, there were two women who testified at the hearing, Dr. Allison Garrett and Laura Champion, both of whom hold prominent positions at their respective Christian universities. But, again, the media never really did anything to correct this blatant falsehood. They still haven't, not in any meaningful way. And again, the debate that day was not over contraception, but over an issue that affects all Americans, not just "nearly every woman," namely, religious freedom.

Later in her speech, Ms. Fluke said that if Romney and Ryan were elected, "It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms."

Fact-check #4 - Ms. Fluke is parroting the lie told in December of last year by Nancy Pelosi, who, in referring to the Protect Life Act, which was co-sponsored by Ryan, said that Republicans would be voting "to say that women can die on the floor." That was a bold-faced lie told back then, but, again, the media did nothing to correct it. And so, Ms. Fluke can repeat it without flinching an eye-lash. In fact, if you read that bill, you will see that it does make exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. So, um, no, the bill in question does not seek to allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. How absurd!

Oh, and while I'm mentioning absurdities, why can't Ms. Fluke and her ilk speak the truth about the choice they want women to retain? They keep saying that women should have the right to choose what they do with their own bodies. I wholeheartedly agree. Who wouldn't agree with that? But, that's NOT what they mean, and they know that. What they mean is that they want women to retain the right to choose to kill the body of a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT HUMAN BEING growing in their womb. Just say that. Just say what you really mean. Just say that you want to be able to make the choice to kill your babies. That's what you want. Let's call that Fact-check #5 - A woman's right to choose is NOT the choice to do what they want with their own bodies, but, in fact, the choice to kill a completely different body.

And, when it comes to the whole contraception thing, quit trying to hide the truth behind emotional appeals to medical necessities. You know full well that religious institutions do not prevent contraceptive coverage for medical necessities. Even those pesky Roman Catholics will make exceptions when such is the case. But, that's a moot point, since what you really want is to be able to have promiscuous sex without the worry of getting pregnant. What you also want is to be able to pop a pill to abort children you didn't want to conceive. And, you want all of that to be paid for by those who do not wish to support your promiscuity and your killing, because such behavior violates their consciences and religious tenets. It's funny, you want those whose consciences and religious tenets do not support your sexual immorality to stay out of your bedrooms and not bother you about your sexual choices, but, at the same time, you want those same people to pay for what you do in your bedrooms. Amazing. 

I could go on, but you get the point. The politicians and their pundits continue their lies and the referees only call fouls on one team. No, it's worse than that. Not only do the referees only call fouls on one team, but they actually repeat and publicize the lies of the other team, giving the impression that those lies are true. And, as any sports fan knows, there's nothing worse than some home-town refs. But, that's exactly what we have with our media today. Mr. Ryan gets butchered; Ms. Fluke gets praised. Pretty sad, that. 


gemutlichkeit said...

What were the lies in Paul Ryan's speech?

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

The lies in his speech are easily Google-able.

Even Fox News reported regarding his speech, "To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech."