I was a Time subscriber for 16 years until about 4 years ago I had ended it because I noticed the magazine’s left-leaning bias until it offered its copies for a much reduced price. I like the way Time writers deliver their news/opinions — brief, crisp and in plain English, a model for everyone wanting to write and to communicate in this international lingua franca.
Time issue of October 15 this year revives my faith in its capacity to cross political barriers and be a servant of the truth. It has regained its reputation, from my perspective, as a purveyor of objective journalism, and an excellent market place of ideas for all in this great political divide.
Blue Truth, Red Truth (The Fact Wars) by Michael Scherer is an interesting read because its validates my own bias that both Presidential candidates, Obama and Romney were not entirely honest to the American people. Though I am Republican leaning, on account of my anti-abortion position, I don’t fall prey easily to Republican spins, and that goes without saying to Democrats spins — overall, I am an independent voter.
Time Managing Editor, Richard Stengel had prefaced the write-up of Scherer this way:
“When it comes to politics, believing is seeing. Partisan Republicans see Barack Obama as dishonest; partisan Democrats see Mitt Romney the same way. Voters see candidates they support as truth tellers; they regard candidates they oppose as shadier. We are suffering from a national case of confirmation bias, the idea that we lend credence to information that confirms our opinions and evidence that doesn’t – even in the face of the facts.”
“Michael Scherer’s smart and insightful cover on the fact wars suggests that truth in the 2012 campaign is in the eye of the beholder. To say that the candidates are out-and-out lying wouldn’t exactly be true. The candidates see the world in different ways and deploy their own facts to confirm those views. The most disturbing truth in the story is not about the falsehoods of any one candidate but the scientific studies showing that voters with more information are likely to be more biased than those who know less. That’s worrisome in a country where government derives its power from the consent of the governed.”
As the election fevers heat up, the tempo of ‘public deception’ rises. To quote Scherer:
“So it goes in the world’s most celebrated democracy; another campaign day, another battle over the very nature of reality. Both of the men now running for the presidency claim that their opponent had a weak grasp of the facts and a demonstrated willingness to mislead the voters. Both profess an abiding personal commitment to honesty and fair play. And both run campaigns that have repeatedly and willfully played the American people for fools, though their respective violations vary in scope and severity.”
“The rules for this back-and-forth were set in 1796, in the nation’s first contested presidential election, when John Adams’ supporters falsely charged Thomas Jefferson’s forces with atheism and loyalty to France while Jefferson’s forces made up fables about Adams’ monarchist ambitions. In the centuries since, campaigns have evolved into elaborate games of cops and robbers. Candidates and their supporters bend, twist and fabricate facts as much as they can without a sparking a backlash. Reporters and opposing politicians do their best to run down the deceptions for voters.”
“But the perpetrators usually remain a step ahead of the cops. “It’s like the campaigns are driving 100 miles an hour on a highway with a posted speed limit of 60, but the patrol cars all have flats,” says Mark McKinnon, a Republican ad man for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush and John McCain. “There was a quaint era in politic when we were held accountable for the truth and paid consequences for errors of act. No more.”
Scherer reports that “chances are high that your neighbors mostly agree with you and that the media you choose to consume rarely rattles your outlook. The pundits on MSNBC, the Huffington Post and the editorial page of the New York times do a fine job of calling out the deceptions of Romney, but if you want to hear where Obama is going wrong, you might be better served on the Drudge Report, Fox News or the Wall Street Journal editorial page.”
“We don’t collect news to inform us. We collect news to affirm us,” explains Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who has been studying the 2012 electorate swing state focus groups. “It used to be that we disagreed on the solution but agree on the problem. Now we don’t even agree on the problem.” All of this contributes to an environment in which, for some voters, unwelcome facts are simply filtered out and flushed away.”
“Human being are simply more willing to believe falsehoods that confirm their worldview.”
“x x x”
“The result is a landscape where accuracy is largely in the eye of the beholder. If you ask voters which candidate is fooling the public, the answers vary by political disposition. A recent poll by Washington Post and ABC News found that 76% of Romney voters Obama is “intentionally misleading” voters. As it happened, the exact same share of Obama supporters believe Romney is “intentionally misleading.” Only 17 % of Romney voters and 12% of Obama voters were willing to say their own man had deceived.”
Time put samples of deceptions of both parties. I have copied two samples from each party and those who wanted to read every deception each party employed in this election campaign to deceive the American public should get hold of the copy of Time, and read the entire article from page 26-30.
“We do not need an outsourcing pioneer in the Oval Office. (This is Obama’s political jab at Romney in the campaign).
Reality: Like many firms, Bain Capital invested in companies that outsourced jobs, but it was not the first to do so, and Romney was no longer directly responsible when the outsourcing occurred.
Verdict: This claim is a distortion by Obama’s team.
The way Bain Consulting reorganized cost the government and American taxpayers $10 million.
Reality: Bain wrote off $10 million in debt to a failed bank at the expense of the FDIC, which is funded by banks. Taxpayers paid nothing.
Verdict: The charge is untrue.
President Obama’s trillion dollar federal takeover of the U.S. health care system is a disaster.
Reality: Under Obamacare, private doctors and hospitals will continue to deliver nearly all care. Most Americans with private employer-based insurance will keep their coverage.
Verdict: False. The merits of the law are up for debate, but Obamacare is not a ‘federal takeover of the U.S. health care system.
Romney’s Plan? Reverse Obama’s defense cuts, strengthen our military, create over 700,000 jobs for Florida.
Reality: The cuts are part of a 2011 debt-reduction deal agreed to by the White House and congressional Republicans, including Paul Ryan.
Verdict: Blaming Obama alone for the cuts is misleading.