In the campaign press corps, Romney’s brazen decision to not merely indulge in puffery or invective or half-truths — as all campaigns, Obama’s included, have done — but to base his entire message on straight-up lies has prompted some journalistic soul-searching about the role of the campaign press. Reporters have come to outsource the role of evaluating the truth of candidates’ claims to “fact-checkers.” This allows the reporters to avoid directly calling a candidate a liar, but instead to point out that some third party, the fact-checkers, have called them liars. The utility of this arrangement has brushed up against its natural limit, a fact that was brutally exposed when Romney pollster Neil Newhouse asserted, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”This really does make the traditional "the truth is in the middle" approach to reporting difficult. At some point one presumes that a healthy press simply needs to start calling out actual mis-truths if they want to avoid being unpaid PR flacks. At some point the role of reporting has to involve at least a nod to truthful discourse.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
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