Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

11/14/2009 (10:19 am)

The Smear on Palin Continues (Updated)

Among Christians there is a general understanding that when one engages in activity that will be effective in extending the Kingdom of God, the demons put in overtime to harass and discredit that person. If that’s what’s going on here, Sarah Palin might just presage the Second Coming, ’cause the effort the Disappearing Press is putting into discrediting Sarah Palin is truly astounding. I watched the full-court Press against Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and frankly, those pale before the assault on Sarah Palin.

Today’s installment appears in the headline that appears above an AP story in the New York Times:

FACT CHECK: Palin’s Book Goes Rogue on Some Facts

1apunch21Oh, please.

In the first place, can anybody honestly still imagine that the New York Times has enough credibility left to lecture anybody in the universe regarding factual accuracy? Young Pinch Sulzberger has long since turned the Grey Lady into a scandal sheet for the left, and nobody but the left bothers to read it anymore. In addition to a half-dozen real scandals in which award-touting journalists turn out to have concocted their stories out of thin air, the Times has become reliably unreliable on several topics, engaged in borderline treason by publishing illegally-obtained documents during wartime, and utterly squandered a reputation for journalistic integrity. The economic demise of the Times is not just about the Internet: of all papers that could have survived the changing times, the New York Times could have, if only it had maintained the reputation for journalistic integrity that it had earned under previous leadership. The Times sank itself by sinking into partisan mediocrity.

Even the headline by itself might constitute a departure for journalistic integrity: “Fact Check,” capitalized, calls to mind a specific organization which does have a reputation for accuracy, but the organization is not the New York Times, nor is it the Associated Press. Were they fishing for credibility by attempting to identify with the Annenberg Foundation?

In the second place, neither the Times nor the AP has even begun to pay a tenth of the attention to Barack Obama’s past actions, let alone his current foibles, that they routinely spend poring over Palin’s mayoral term in Wasilla, Alaska. These slobbering lapdogs of the progressive left need to stop examining small-town mayors and start doing their damned jobs. They are gaining obscurity, and they deserve it.

And in the third place, the details of the alleged misrepresentations are just too silly to be believed. These guys are insane.

Consider the first complaint:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking ”only” for reasonably priced rooms and not ”often” going for the ”high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City’s Central Park for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in October 2007.

There’s nothing in “THE FACTS” that falsifies the statement made by Ms. Palin. She says she did not often go for high-priced hotels. They produce one instance where she used a high-priced hotel. Once is not often. The air quotes around the word “often” indicate that the reporter is aware of the tendentious nature of the complaint; he’s fishing, and he knows it.

Consider the second:

PALIN: Boasts that she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, mostly from first-time givers, and turned back large checks from big donors if her campaign perceived a conflict of interest.

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC.

This constitutes an incredibly lame attempt to make ordinary campaign metrics seem extraordinary. Why the arbitrary line at $500? Is that an unusually large donation? Isn’t it necessarily the case that a small number of large donations will overshadow the sum of a large number of small donations? How does that falsify Palin’s claim? And why no comparison to other politicians’ campaigns? Did Palin receive larger-than-average donations, average, or smaller-than-average? We’re not told. The AP either does not know, or worse, does know but is omitting the facts because they validate Palin’s point.

wasillaIt gets worse as it goes on. One of the “PALIN/FACT” comparisons takes her to task for not mindlessly swallowing President Obama’s mealy-mouthed retraction of his frank admission that cap-and-trade will bankrupt electric utilities who stick to coal. The AP insists that Palin is playing fast and loose with the facts because she does not buy the faux “research” from leftist think tanks that minimize the cost of cap-and-trade. They claim her reputation for taking down corrupt politicians is jeopardized by the fact — drum roll, wait for it — that she asked for a zoning variance to sell her house, two months before the end of her mayoral term. They try to pretend that the fact that she praised John McCain’s ability to bring disparate parties together to accept the Bush Treasury bailout, means that she can’t object to Barack Obama’s repeated use of nationalization to solve economic problems (notice that she didn’t even say that the Bush bailout was a good idea; she just praised McCain’s negotiating skill.) They claim it tortures the facts for Palin to say “Reagan showed us how to get out of a recession” and then proceed to recommend killing the estate tax, because Reagan did not actually eliminate the estate tax. And so on. It’s drivel.

The only objection in the entire article that can withstand even momentary scrutiny from an objective observer is that Palin apparently said Ronald Reagan faced a worse recession than the one that appears to be ending now. AP argues that the current recession is far worse. I’m inclined to think that the current recession is not ending now, and will prove to be worse. So, AP manages to raise an interesting quibble to a debatable economic assessment, one that does not lend itself easily to claims of fact. Not a very impressive achievement, considering that their headline claim is that Sarah Palin lacks the AP’s concern for facts.

It’s just another slime piece in a year-long deluge of slime pieces, from two organizations — the Associated Press and the New York Times — that have, sadly, given themselves over to hurling slime for their political masters.

UPDATE, 11/18: Incredibly, it turns out that AP actually assigned 11 individuals to fact-check all 432 pages of their advance copy of Palin’s book in order to write their silly diatribe. The level of obsession they demonstrate regarding Ms. Palin has not diminished. All the more reason why this article is genuinely shameful; that many individuals should have been able to come up with much better material, if such good material actually existed. The fact that they devoted so much manpower to the task and came up so incredibly empty, speaks volumes about Palin’s character. One wonders what they might have dug up had they devoted this many staff to finding falsehoods uttered by Joe Biden.

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November 14, 2009 @ 12:45 pm #

And never forget that the Annandale Foundation is under the same management as that for which Obama and his police bombing buddy served as board members to give massive amounts of money to the schools of Chicago, and which succeeded in virtually no improvement whatsoever in spite of the vast amounts of money…

And they were both well paid for their board memberships, by the way.

You don’t suppose the
Annandale Foundation just _might_ have a political agenda unforeseen by it’s founder, do you?

November 14, 2009 @ 2:41 pm #

You don’t suppose the Annandale [sic] Foundation just _might_ have a political agenda unforeseen by it’s founder, do you?

I find it more likely that the Annenbergs’ money was coopted by Ayers and misspent by Obama, as clear an instance as I’ve ever seen of misprision of funds. I’m not sure that it would have been possible to prosecute Obama for the mismanagement, but he should have been fired, and he should have been disgraced.

November 14, 2009 @ 3:40 pm #

Oops. My in-laws belonged to the Annandale Golf Club for years – still have the parking sticker on the old car to prove it (22 years old, 129,000 miles on it!). It’s just the name that pops into my head instead of the correct one…

November 15, 2009 @ 8:51 pm #

This smear of Palin also reminds me that the NYT picked McCain as the “good” GOP candidate. Before they turned on him, of course.

It almost makes me think of those countries where they have two people running for office, but they’re really from the same party, and everybody knows who’s going to win anyway.

November 16, 2009 @ 1:55 am #

[…] Plum Bob Blog talks of the Awful dePress and the New York slimes’ “credibility”. […]

November 16, 2009 @ 11:37 am #

On the subject of Palin it is safe to say that anything emulating (excreting might be a better choice of words) from the Dinosaur Media is to be treated with the highest level of skepticism. One does not have to spend much time in any Palin-hating arena to encounter someone who solemnly repeats the quote “I can see Russia from my house!” as proof positive that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President of the United States.

What is missed here is that this “fact checking” is done in advance of the release of the book, such that it poisons the debate before anyone without a connection to the publishing world has a chance to read the book for themselves.

A suggestion for my Palin-hating friends. I don’t mind that you are opposed to her stand on the issues. What I do object to is that you misstate her stand on the issues using second hand sources that are themselves inaccurate.

Most of the time, Sarah puts forward her opinion on something on her facebook page. It won’t kill you to visit and read it for yourself. You don’t need some knucklehead at the Associated Press to read it and tell you what you should think.

One last thing: those who contend that the flack is densest right over the target are absolutely right. Sarah Palin not only isn’t a fool, she does not suffer them gladly either.

BTW, Hi Phil. Hope all is well with you and yours.

November 16, 2009 @ 2:53 pm #

Well said, turfmann.

Much of the problem, as always, is with the media. Somehow, anyone on the right who constitutes any type of true threat to the left gets blasted by a huge variety of media sources spanning the full gamut of snarky Letterman and late night comedian jokes, gotcha journalism with Katie Couric and 60 Minutes, Hollywood ridicule, allegedly ‘balanced’ articles from Time and Newsweek, on and on and on.

A few themes and sound bites such as “seeing Russia from my house” are bleated often enough for long enough that these few storylines morph into the accepted conventional wisdom about that person regardless of their basis in truth. This has certainly happened with Palin.

The hypocrisy and double standard is a problem conservatives and Republicans have not even begun to come to grips with. Palin is just the current lightning rod. It isn’t going to keep me from voting for her or for anyone else that I support. However, think about your average moderate/squish who maybe tilts conservative in their behavior, but hasn’t been able to get past the surface emotive appeal of liberalism and the imposing PC smog machine that grinds 24/7. It is going to be genuinely hard for someone like this (and there are millions of them) to vote for someone like Palin when everyday all their hip, edgy, sophisticated friends and idols are trashing her and deriding anyone who would be stupid enough to even dream of supporting her. Weak kneed? Yes. Can we win without soomehow capturing these people’s votes? Infuriating, but no.

I imagine the beltway Republicans and moderates are happy she is the target because she is a threat to them as well as to the Democrats. And that’s a problem as well.

November 19, 2009 @ 11:15 pm #

These loons are so far over the top with the Palin obsession that they may yet generate enough empathy for her to at least have a freshlook from people who had written her off previously.

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