Friday, March 18, 2016

Get a Stupid Answer. Or a Lie.

I’ve rewritten this post a couple of times, partly because my focus has shifted as to what the real issue is, and partly because of the changing political scene.  This was to be “Part Two” on “Asking Stupid Questions” and I was going to hold the media’s feet to the fire for letting this year’s crop of Presidential candidates to hold forth without much critique and account.

I will do that, and much more.

I’ve long learned that good questions get good answers, and bad questions don’t deliver.  Sure, the media is dealing with complex issues and many positions are “nuanced,” but there are times when a simple “yes or no” question can be asked AND answered.  In this year’s Presidential debates, some of the moderators did well while others were gawd-awful.  Certainly I see it that the Democratic debates contained more structure, policy, and informative dialogue than the Jerry Springer-like Republican bouts.  But as time went on the debates got worse, not better, and that’s when the media should have stepped up their game, and they failed.  And continue to do so.

However, I recognize that they are dealing with politicians, who, as we all know, lie.  All of ‘em.  It was in the New York Times, so it must be true.  It is true, but there is a difference between a professional liar and a politician who exaggerates a bit.  The latter does so because the story he/she is telling isn’t quite as compelling as the story it COULD be, and it we weren’t all so distracted with our iPhones and Twitter and SnapChat and such we might pay a bit more attention and they wouldn’t have to exaggerate or stretch the truth so much.

I get that.

A professional liar has more on their plate.  They have agendas and goals, and often the only way to obtain those objectives is to tell a story that in no way resembles reality.  And they do this so often with such “skill” that they accomplish those goals and fulfill those agendas, often with the approval of the very people whose eyes they have pulled the wool over.

You can recognize a professional liar when you ask them a question, and they give you a response that (a) is completely true, and (b) does NOT answer the question, although if you weren’t really paying attention it might seem as if it does.  This skill was aptly displayed at the debates, and many in the media called the candidates on it, and…they continued to do it.  Because it works.

Lotsa Lies
Personal example:  I’ve had one employee over the years who stole from me (and just the one – I am thankful for that).  Catching her was easy – she stole money at a time when the only people in the store were me, my wife, and her.  Pretty sure my wife didn’t take money from the tip jar and her own purse.  When I confronted her, I asked her if she took the money.  Her response was a pro-job:  “Search me – you won’t find it on me.”  True that (it was in her coat in the back).  A “true” response yet it did NOT answer the question.  So I repeated the question.  “I would not do such a thing, and you can search me all you want.”  Again, not an answer.  So I asked a third time.  “I cannot believe you are accusing me of this – search me!”  A true pro.  And a thief (who, I am sad to report, moved up in the crime world to drugs, drug running, and it currently occupying a federal building somewhere).

You can debate among yourselves which candidate lies more often, though I wanted to provide a handy chart so that you could see who Politifact thinks lies the most.  And truthfully, Politifact has been known to be full of shit on occasion, so there’s that.  Still, everyone lies, and no one cares.

At least, they don’t seem to care if it’s THEIR candidate who lies.  There is a psychological reason for that, and that’s the reason that exposing the lies doesn’t seem to have any affect on a candidate’s popularity.  If you spend some time on Facebook responding to an every steady stream of political bullshit with facts, exposure, and stuff from Snopes, you’ll see exactly what affect all that truthiness has on your political friends who inhabit a different side of the fence than you.  Nothing.

This does NOT include Fox or CNN.  Scary, huh?
The ironic facts are these – currently, the two candidates who lead their parties are also the candidates who lead their respective parties in “lack of truthiness.”  They also lead their respective parties in one other measure – exposure.

The more the public sees and hears a candidate: good, bad, truth, lies, pundited, speechified, whatever…the higher their position.  Here again the networks are at fault.  See chart.

And finally, the media is starting to examine their role in creating this.  Whether they do something about it remains to be seen.  I am not holding my breath, since CBS CEO Les Moonves quipped that the current front-runner of coverage and lies, "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS, that's all I got to say."

Liberal media and journalistic credibility, my ass.

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