Friday, October 30, 2015

Lessons From The Republican Debate

Catherine Rampell has a tough job.  She is a fact checker for the Washington Post.  She checks the claims made by politicians and she gives them a truthfulness score.  The last GOP debate taught her a few lessons.   The first lesson that she learned is that it pays to tell lies.  The candidates tell big lies that the GOP base wants to hear.  There is an art to telling lies and how to deal with fact checkers in the media.  She provided several examples of this art form from the last debate.  Apparently, its OK to lie as long as your followers like what you said.  Several candidates were asked questions about there fiscal policy proposals.  Marco Rubio discovered a great way to explain why his plan did not add up.  He gave an arithmetic lesson to explain why rich people get a bigger tax break than poor people from his plan.  He said that 5% of a million is larger than 5% of a thousand.  The audience applauded his response and many in the media awarded him with points for handling a tough question with force.  The third lesson that she learned is how to deal with a question for which you have no good answer.  Several of the candidates blamed the media for asking the question.  That worked well for them.  If you can't blame the Obama Administration or Hilary Clinton for something you can blame the media for their liberal bias.  That strategy works even when CNBC, which moderated the debate, is much closer to Fox News than it is to the "mainstream media" which does not follow the Fox script.  

Rampell reached a conclusion that must be discomforting to her.  The media are partly to blame for the state of politics in the US.  Much of the reporting following the last debate focused on which of the liars did the best job of getting a favorable response from the conservative audience which attended the debate.  The media seems to be primarily concerned about the relationship between the candidates performance and its impact on their poll numbers.  I'm getting pretty tired of reading about Jeb Bush's poll numbers and about the rise of Ben Carson and Donald Trump in the polls.  The media defaults on its primary responsibility to inform the public.  That doesn't attract an audience. It also provides free advertising to candidates who make the most outrageous claims.

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