Their opponents, seeing this, will say it's proof that the people telling these falsehoods "don't care about the truth at all". They're not stupid or ignorant, they're aware of the truth but consciously refuse to accept it. They believe in the "big lie" theory, where, if you tell a falsehood -- a flagrant one -- enough times people will believe it. (This usually goes along with the "they'll say anything to win" caricature.)
The "big lie" theory is usually (falsely?) attributed to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi Party, though Hitler and Goebbels were themselves accusing other people of telling "big lies".
But, whatever the origin of this accusation, it is itself name-calling and an exaggeration. Yes, people lie, and they should be called on it, but does that mean that they're thoroughly rotten to the core and have no respect for truth whatsoever?
Another problem with this "they don't care about the truth at all" accusation is that -- like most political rhetoric -- it's selectively applied: people only use it when they catch their opponents in a blatant falsehood. When their own side gets caught doing the same, how many people say, "this is proof that my party cares nothing about the truth, we'll just tell any old blatant lie to get what we want"?
We should keep lies and accusations of lies in their proper context: The "big lie" accusation is a caricature in its own right, and is yet another vehicle for selective outrage.
EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS
"That’s the choice you face this November -- between dividing ourselves up, looking for scapegoats, ignoring the evidence -- or realizing that we are all stronger together. If we turn against each other -- whether it's divisions of race or religion -- we're not going to build on the progress we started. If we get cynical and just vote our fears -- or we don’t vote at all -- we won’t build on the progress we’ve started. America has been a story of progress, but has not gone in a straight line. There have been times where we've gone forward, there have been times where we've gone backwards. And what’s made the difference each and every time is citizens voting, and caring, and committing to our better selves. Coming together around our common values, and our faith in hard work and our faith in each other, and the belief in opportunity for everybody, and assuming the best in each other, and not the worst."-- President Barack Obama, June 25, 2016.
Comment: Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of debate, but at the same time he's demonizing his opponents as not caring about evidence. As a result, his remarks imply that it's mostly his opponents who resort to unfair rhetoric. Also, Obama is using "uniting, not dividing" rhetoric – though, how do you unify with people you accuse of ignoring evidence? – as well as "appealing to fear" rhetoric.
True, as Garry Wills has observed, Republicans may have renounced virtually the entire Enlightenment—and with it, “reason, facts, science, open-mindedness, tolerance, secularity, modernity.”-- Pundit Eric Alterman, June 2, 2016.
Comment: This is “they don’t care about facts” rhetoric.
Donald Trump is a pathological liar, Ted Cruz said Tuesday in a forceful and passionate rebuke of the Republican presidential front-runner. Phoning into Fox News on Tuesday, the real-estate mogul parroted a National Enquirer report alleging that Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, suggesting that the elder Cruz was somehow involved in JFK’s murder.-- Republican presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Donald Trump, as related in a May 3, 2016, story by Nolan D. McCaskill of Politico.
“This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK,” Cruz told reporters during a news conference in Evansville, Indiana. “Now, let’s be clear, this is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky.”
“And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” Cruz continued sarcastically.
Cruz defended his father, recalling the story of how came to America with just $100, and slammed the National Enquirer as “tabloid trash” that published an “idiotic story.” Cruz said the tabloid, which recently published a story alleging that the Texas senator has had multiple extramarital affairs, has become Trump’s hit piece to smear his targets.
“I’m gonna tell you what I really think of Donald Trump: This man is a pathological liar,” Cruz said. “He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth, and in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.”
Trump floated the conspiracy between the Cuban immigrant and Oswald in retaliation for Rafael Cruz using his pulpit to encourage evangelicals to support Cruz. “I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump said on Fox News. “It’s horrible.”
Comment: First, Trump is suggesting Rafael Cruz may have conspired with Oswald to kill JFK largely based on a picture in which Oswald appears with someone resembling Cruz. Even if the person is, in fact, Cruz, this is flimsy evidence at best; many other people appeared in the picture, are they therefore ALL conspirators? Trump's accusation against Cruz is derisive, and the burden of proof is on Trump to prove that it's true. Second, even if it were true that Rafael Cruz had played a role in assassinating JFK, what bearing would that have on his son, Ted Cruz? Is Trump accusing the younger Cruz of guilt by association? Last, Ted Cruz is accusing Trump of not caring about the truth. Granted, Trump is saying (or at least, has said) things that are false; is that enough to reach the conclusion that he's a pathological liar who doesn't care about facts? If we discover that Cruz has said things that are false, can we conclude the same about him?
"We still have our house in Chicago … But there's also these big stacks of newspapers from right before the election. And every time I go back, I have occasion to look back and read what I said at the time. And Lord knows I've made mistakes in this job, and there are areas where I've fallen short, but something I'm really proud of is the fact that, if you go back and see what I said in 2007 and you see what I did, they match up."-- President Barack Obama, March 28, 2016.
Comment: This is demonstrably false, as there are any number of things Obama pledged he would do as president that he has not done (for instance, he said he would not require people to purchase health insurance, and pledged to recognize the Armenian genocide).
"But the truth of the matter is America is pretty darn great right now. … And what the folks who are running for office should be focused on is how we can make it even better. Not insults and schoolyard taunts, and manufacturing facts. Not divisiveness along the lines of race or faith. Certainly not violence against other Americans or excluding them. … And what’s been happening in our politics lately is not an accident. For years, we’ve been told we should be angry about America, and that the economy is a disaster, and that we’re weak and that compromise is weakness, and that you can ignore science and you can ignore facts, and say whatever you want about the President, and feed suspicion about immigrants and Muslims and poor people, and people who aren’t like “us,” and say that the reason that America is in decline is because of “those” people. That didn’t just happen last week. That narrative has been promoted now for years. It didn’t just spring out of nowhere. And of course, none of it has been true. It just ignores reality -- the reality that America is the most powerful nation on Earth. The reality that our economy is not only stronger than it was eight years ago, that it’s, right now, the bright spot in the world. … We can have political debates without turning on one another. We can have political debates without thinking that the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. We can support candidates without treating their opponents as unpatriotic, or treasonous, or somehow deliberately trying to weaken America. That's not just one candidate who’s been saying that; some of the so-called more responsible candidates, including a gentleman from this state -- no, no, you read what he says, it's not -- it's no more rooted in reality than some of these other statements. We can point out bad policies without describing them as a “government takeover” or “an assault on freedom.” And by the way, when I say this, this is not about “political correctness.” It’s about not having to explain to our kids why our politics sounds like a schoolyard fight. We shouldn’t be afraid to take them to rallies, or let them watch debates. They watch the way we conduct ourselves. They learn from us. And we should be teaching them something about this democracy is a vibrant and precious thing. It's going to be theirs someday, and we should be teaching them how to disagree without being disagreeable, and how to engage, and how to analyze facts, and how to be honest and truthful, and admit if you make a mistake, and teach them that politics at its best is about a battle of ideas, and resolving our differences without encouraging or resorting to violence. … As Democrats, we believe in things like science. It has resulted in great improvements in our lives. Science -- that's why we have things like penicillin and airplanes."-- President Barack Obama, March 12, 2016, commenting on the Republican presidential nomination contest.
Comment: First, Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of debate, and accusing Republicans of being "divisive". Second, Obama is accusing Republicans of being bigots who ignore facts, science, and reality. Third, he is saying that Republicans – but not Democrats? – are guilty of questioning the patriotism of their opponents.
"America’s workforce is growing at the fastest pace since the year 2000. It is showing the kind of strength and durability that makes America’s economy right now the envy of the world despite the enormous headwinds that it’s receiving because of weaknesses in other parts of the world. In other words, the numbers, the facts don’t lie. And I think it’s useful, given that there seems to be an alternative reality out there from some of the political folks that America is down in the dumps. It’s not. America is pretty darn great right now, and making strides right now. … And I don’t expect that these facts and this evidence will convince some of the politicians out there to change their doomsday rhetoric, talking about how terrible America is. … The fact of the matter is, is that the plans that we have put in place to grow the economy have worked. They would work even faster if we did not have the kind of obstruction that we’ve seen in this town to prevent additional policies that would make a difference. … That’s what we should be debating. That’s the debate that is worthy of the American people. Not fantasy. Not name-calling. Not trying to talk down the American economy, but looking at the facts, understanding that we’ve made extraordinary progress in job growth; how can we continue to advance that, how can we make sure that people are successful in climbing the ladder of wage and income growth over the coming years; how do we make sure that we make this economy grow even faster. … The notion that we would reverse the very policies that helped dig us out of a recession, reinstitute those that got us into a hole -- plans that are being currently proposed by Republicans in Congress and by some of the candidates for President -- that’s not the conversation we should be having."-- President Barack Obama, March 4, 2016.
Comment: There are several things going on here. First, Obama is accusing opponents (in particular, Republicans) of being "out of touch with reality", or perhaps of not caring about facts. Second, it sounds like he's also accusing Republicans of rooting for failure on the economy. Third, he is accusing them of obstruction. Fourth, he is calling for a higher standard of debate. Finally, he is making claims about what caused the Financial Crisis – he says it was Republican policies – and the reversal of that crisis – he says it was his own economic policies. But his support for these claims seems to be flimsy post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning.
Facts may not matter to Trump’s fans, and he may have enough support to skate through to win the nomination.-- Pundit Jonathan S. Tobin, March 4, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: This is "they don't care about truth" rhetoric.
"I'm not even sure he knows he's lying. I think he just doesn't care about what the truth is."-- Pundit John Oliver, February 28, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: This is "they don't care about truth" rhetoric.
"Ted Cruz is a dirty player. He lies like I've never seen anybody – and I've dealt with some pretty bad people, I've dealt with much, much worse people than Ted Cruz, much tougher than Ted Cruz, a much, much tougher group of people than Ted Cruz, but I've never dealt with anybody that lies as much as Ted Cruz. … Ted Cruz is a serious liar, I guess you could call him a serial liar … I have never met anybody that lied as much as Ted Cruz. … I have never met a worse liar than Ted Cruz, and I've met some unbelievable professional liars".-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, February 20, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Comment: This is "liar" rhetoric.
"He is a liar, he is a hypocrite, and he hates America."-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 15, 2016, referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Comment: In addition to calling him a liar and a hypocrite, Levin is demonizing Schumer as hating his country.
"[Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.)] said, ‘Insist from us and from each other a modicum of civility as the condition for serving you.’ … Our children are watching what we do. … If we lie about each other, they learn it’s okay to lie. … If they see us insulting each other like school kids, then they think, well, I guess that’s how people are supposed to behave. … We should insist on a higher form of discourse in our common life, one based on empathy and respect … We have to stand up and insist, no, reason matters, facts matter … When folks just make stuff up, they can’t go unchallenged. And that’s true for Democrats if you hear a Democratic make something up, and that’s true for a Republican if you see a Republican cross that line."-- President Barack Obama, February 10, 2016.
Comment: Obama is calling for us to set a higher standard of debate. He is also claiming that someone – he does not say who – is acting as if facts don't matter. He is also failing to point out the various ways that he himself has failed to support civil discourse, which amounts to the "only my opponent" caricature.
On Wednesday, Rep. Steve King summoned Ben Carson to a meeting at Carson's Washington hotel to express regret for his role in spreading the rumor just before the Iowa caucuses began that Carson was withdrawing from the presidential race.-- Rep. Steve King (R-IA), from a February 5, 2016, Politico story by Kyle Cheney.
"There was no malice on my part," King, a prominent surrogate for Iowa winner Ted Cruz, said in a phone interview. "We shook hands and we're done. We don’t have to discuss it again."
But that sentiment has become wishful thinking for the Cruz campaign.
Four days after winning the Iowa caucuses, Cruz's team is still struggling to answer questions about whether it relied on trickery to pad its lead by convincing Iowans that Carson — a rival for evangelical votes — was dropping out of the race. What the Cruz campaign initially called a knee-jerk response to ambiguous news reports has been revealed to be a more coordinated effort to steer Carson voters to the Cruz camp amid the chaotic caucus atmosphere.
Cruz's surrogates and staff are exasperated by all the attention.
"As long as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and, to a significantly lesser degree, Ben Carson can benefit from this, they will push it," King said. "It’s beyond the point where the facts matter. They’ll always continue to attack the credibility of Ted Cruz.” King added that he's not convinced that Carson actually did intend to drop out, suggesting that he might have reversed course after the Cruz issue erupted.
Comment: King is accusing Cruz's critics of not caring about facts.
But maybe logic has nothing to do it. Trump’s rivals have attacked the tycoon, calling him a jerk for making fun of a handicapped journalist, a bully and a racist for his plans to ban all Muslims. They have attacked his policy proposals for being unworkable. But none of this seems to matter. His polls numbers have gone up, not down. Maybe that’s because to Trump’s supporters, the facts don’t matter. They have their opinions and by God they are going to defend them. James Madison once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” That proposition is being put to the test in this election cycle.-- Pundit John Feehery, January 25, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: Feehery is accusing Trump supporters of not caring about facts and logic.
I'm not like the Republicans, who pick a position and stick with it regardless of evidence and try to, you know, live in an evidence-free zone the best they can.-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 11, 2016, during interview with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register.
Comment: Clinton is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth.
"What he’s proposing would not have prevented any past mass shooting. So why would it prevent the next one? So you’ve got a president indulging in an illusion. … And that’s why the issue of guns is such an insight into liberalism. Because what happens here is – what matters should be the results. … We’ve got this moral posturing, feel-good politics, it doesn’t matter to the left, what they propose will not stop gun violence, it just makes them feel good like they are doing something positive. They think it looks good, they think it sounds good, and the fact that no lives are going to be saved by what the President’s proposing doesn’t matter. That shows you how shallow modern liberalism is, and how it’s all about emotion rather than reason, and the appearance rather than reality. … But I’m watching him cry with tears streaming down his cheeks, now maybe it was genuine, to him – I can’t read the guy’s heart. … You’ve got an Alinskyite, master politician and a demagogue attempting to use emotion to counter reason."-- Pundit Sean Hannity, January 5, 2016, referring to President Barack Obama's gun policy speech that day, during which Obama cried while referring the the Newtown school shooting.
Comment: Hannity is accusing Obama (and liberals more generally) of being divorced from reality, intentionally rejecting reason and facts. He is also using "demagogue" rhetoric.
So I can just imagine Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s inner voice giving him advice in his usual fact-free zone — the same voice that told him he “watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down” — though we now know there was no such scene. None.-- Pundit Lanny Davis, January 5, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: Davis is accusing Trump of not caring about facts.
"She's always been – whether it was Whitewater or the email scandal, she always lies. And now to be saying that we're just right in the perfect spot with respect to ISIS, I don't think that's a lie, I really don't think she knows what she's doing."-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, December 21, 2015, referring to Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Comment: Trump is accusing Clinton of distortion – more, that she always lies, which could also involve the "they'll say anything" caricature – but he then immediately contradicts himself and says that Clinton is not lying in her assessment of ISIS. Rather, he says, she's made a false assessment of the Islamic State based on being "out of touch with reality".
STEPHANOPOULOS: You just heard Donald Trump call you out. He said you lied. He doubled down on that embrace from Vladimir Putin.-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), December 20, 2015, appearing on ABC News' "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. Sanders was responding to remarks made earlier on the show by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
SANDERS: I tell you, it really is rather extraordinary. I think -- and I say this straightforwardly -- I think you have a pathological liar there.
SANDERS: Pathological, I really do. I mean, I think much of what he says are lies or gross distortion of reality. Here's the fact. I mean, he's been saying over and over again that he saw on television, as I understand it, thousands of people in New Jersey celebrating 9/11 right the destruction of the Twin Towers. Either that's true or it's not true. And what I understand, there have been a lot of research, they archive what goes on television. You're a TV guy, right? Everything was saying that was going to be archived. Either it is true, it is not true. Nobody has seen a tape of thousands of people celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers in New Jersey. It doesn't exist. And he keeps claiming it. That's called pathological lying. Yes, he just (INAUDIBLE) a few moments ago accused me of lying when I said last night is that he has suggested that Mexicans who were coming to this country are criminals and rapists. That is exactly what he said. What somebody like a Donald Trump is doing is playing on the fears and anxieties of the American people. And people are afraid.
Comment: Sanders is accusing Trump of distortion – perhaps to the point of not caring about truth – as well as exploiting fear.
Obama is the most anti-science, anti-factual president in modern memory.-- Pundit Victor Davis Hanson, December 13, 2015, referring to President Barack Obama.
Comment: Hanson is accusing Obama of not caring about truth. Hanson lists several instances where Obama's positions are at odds with the facts, but is that a basis to conclude that Obama rejects facts altogether?
"In Obama's world, facts don't matter, truth doesn't matter."-- Pundit Sean Hannity, December 9, 2015, during the first hour of his radio show, referring to President Barack Obama.
Comment: This is "they don't care about truth" rhetoric.
Anyone who follows U.S. political debates on the environment knows that Republican politicians overwhelmingly oppose any action to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, and that the great majority reject the scientific consensus on climate change. … More important, probably, is the denial inherent in the conventions of political journalism, which say that you must always portray the parties as symmetric — that any report on extreme positions taken by one side must be framed in a way that makes it sound as if both sides do it. We saw this on budget issues, where some self-proclaimed centrist commentators, while criticizing Republicans for their absolute refusal to consider tax hikes, also made a point of criticizing President Obama for opposing spending cuts that he actually supported. My guess is that climate disputes will receive the same treatment. But I hope I’m wrong, and I’d urge everyone outside the climate-denial bubble to frankly acknowledge the awesome, terrifying reality. We’re looking at a party that has turned its back on science at a time when doing so puts the very future of civilization at risk. That’s the truth, and it needs to be faced head-on.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, December 4, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is accusing Republicans of rejecting science. He also claims that it's wrong to say that both sides are equally at fault when it comes to being "extreme", but he offers no rigorous evidence to support the claim that one side does it more.
Don’t worry I won’t make any exceptions, there are none to make.-- Pundit LaFeminista, November 21, 2015, in a post entitled, "Republicans Are The Scum Of The Earth".
The lowest of the low in my book, oh, I might offend some of these mouth breathers; so what, fuck em.
Watching the pigswill that is the GOP debates where the vilest, nastiest and most demeaning piece of drivel gets wild applause. If you want to appeal to the dregs of the earth, then go for it, don’t expect my analysis to be bipartisan.
I don’t want to get to know you better, in fact I don’t want you anywhere bloody near me. Vote for this trash and I will regard you as such.
There are not two sides to the debate there is no common ground, we have gone way beyond that, vileness is their motto, hatred their raison d'être.
Greedy, spineless cowards, fearful of anything that moves, hateful of anything different and proud of their ignorance. Proud unreasoning bigots all.
They live in their own vile pool of ingrained mindless doctrine where belief trumps fact, where ignorance is praised as a virtue.
There are those that exploit the fear, loathing and ignorance and they are the worst of the lot, where denial is easier than facing up to the truth.
To those who would send others far braver than themselves into our mindless wars I have nothing but sheer contempt.
You are scum.
Comment: This is "disgusting" rhetoric. LaFeminista also accuses Republicans of being bigoted, not caring about truth and reason, and exploiting fear.
"A lot of times it seems like our politics don’t reflect the common sense and decency that we see in our neighbors and our communities and our friends, and it gets frustrating. We’ve got a system that too often rewards division and polarization and short-term thinking, and rewards people for saying the most outrageous things, even though everybody knows they’re not true, but we think of it as entertainment somehow. And so attention-grabbing and controversy is rewarded rather than folks who are rolling up their sleeves and dealing with sometimes really complicated issues that don’t lend themselves to a sound bite. And so people get cynical. And sometimes people just throw up their hands and say “Washington doesn’t work, a plague on both your houses, everybody’s dysfunctional.” Your job is to not succumb to that."-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.
Comment: Obama is calling for us to set a higher standard of debate. He is lamenting divisive rhetoric that is not factual and how it yields cynicism. However, he doesn't acknowledge how he and his party have contributed to these problems.
"You’ve heard from some of our outstanding candidates. I’m going to be supporting whoever the nominee is and I’m confident … We’ve got some great candidates. But when you watch the debate between the Democrats, it was logical, and civil, and people didn’t agree with everything but they weren’t just saying crazy stuff. And they weren’t dividing the country into us and them and tapping into people’s worst impulses. It made me proud, because it said that we’ve got a party that’s inclusive and that wants everybody to join and get involved and showed that we can disagree without being disagreeable."-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.
Comment: Obama is indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature, saying that Democrats are logical and civil while Republicans say "crazy stuff" (an example of "out of touch" or "don't care about facts" rhetoric) and divide Americans (an example of "unify the country" rhetoric) and appeal to people's worst impulses (which is demonizing Republicans).
"The fix was always in. Nothing was ever going to happen to Mrs. Clinton in these Benghazi hearings. What was always going to happen, the media was gonna hype it, and hype it they did. … We all know she lied to the families of those four that were killed. We all know that she lied publicly about what caused that attack. … And I, not relishing the role of being the cold shower or the bucket of cold water, attempted to warn you and anybody else that would listen that that was not what was going to happen. And it was not because the Republicans wouldn't try. … They did illustrate on a couple of occasions that Mrs. Clinton got caught in a massive lie. … But none of it matters because of the way the media immediately began reporting it yesterday, last night, and into today. … she was gonna be portrayed as having stood up to this political firing squad, the Republican Party. They showered her with everything they got and she triumphed. … And that's exactly what's happened. And, accordingly, a lot of people feeling deflated, a lot of people feeling unhappy, depressed, sad, whatever, because they really, really thought, given the facts, that somebody was going to be held accountable. But once again, when dealing with the Washington establishment, which is run in toto by the Democrat Party and the American media, we find that facts are irrelevant, facts are to be obliterated and maneuvered and bent, shaped, flaked, and formed."-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, October 23, 2015, referring to Congressional hearings on Benghazi involving Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on October 22, 2015.
Comment: Limbaugh is accusing Democrats and the media of not caring about truth.
"We're not going to get the contradictions, we're not going to get the facts, we're not going to get the real story underlying it. We're living in an age where what you say and its relation with the facts is completely irrelevant as we see in the presidential campaign. And it's carrying over into the hearings."-- Pundit Charles Krauthammer, October 22, 2015, referring to Congressional hearings on Benghazi involving Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier that day.
Comment: Krauthammer is saying that facts don't matter to people anymore.
ROGER: Ronald Reagan successfully brainwashed about 45% of the nation's people with the help of Rush Limbaugh. And if you use keywords like “socialist” and “demagogue”, they right away think communist and they will not vote for you. And if you want to fix this problem, you can’t just do what you’re doing and shout out words like “demagogue”, they love demagogues. They don’t understand what the word even means. Go to a Republican bar and sit there and talk to them, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. You first have to fix the brainwash problem, and you first have to slowly fix the brainwash problem by bringing back the equal time laws that Ronald Reagan got rid of.-- National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America Maria Svart, October 18, 2015, responding to Roger, a caller on C-SPAN Washington Journal.
SVART: For the last 40 years the far, far right has really systematically built up institutions to control the discourse. … And they've really dismantled the public sphere. They've really deregulated. … And another thing that they've done is they've flooded the airwaves with their mantra, including how socialism is evil and the government in general is evil and inefficient. And they just repeat it over and over again, ignoring facts, and it really is true that it has an impact on how people engage with politics.
Comment: Roger is using "stupid" (i.e., "brainwashed") and "demagogue" rhetoric to describe Republicans and conservatives. Svart is demonizing Republicans and conservatives; they generally want smaller government, but that doesn't mean they believe all government is evil. Svart is also accusing Republicans and conservatives of not caring about facts, and she is indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature (implying that Democrats, Socialists, liberals and progressives don't also repeat false assertions).
Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple. … But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.-- Pundit David Brooks, October 13, 2015.
Comment: This is the "only my opponent" caricature, saying that it is only Republicans and conservatives (or, in this case, certain Republicans and conservatives that Brooks is not allied with) have resorted to exaggerations and demonizing. Where is the evidence that Democrats, liberals, and progressives have not done the same? Also, Brooks is accusing Republicans of ignoring facts.
Obama described himself as not intrinsically partisan and said some members of his party have faulted him for not being partisan enough.-- President Barack Obama, October 10, 2015, as told by an AFP story.
"But I will tell you at this moment in history, the choices are stark. And facts, evidence and values are on our side. And the other side has gone off the deep end," Obama said.
Obama added: "And what you're witnessing in the House fight right now is that even deeply conservative folks are not considered ideologically pure enough and we would rather burn the House down than admit the possibility of democratic process that requires compromise."
Comment: Obama is contrasting himself with Republicans by saying that he is not partisan, and apparently saying that Republicans don't care about facts and evidence or values (which would be demonizing).
BURNETT: You say you can't insult your way to the White House. You say Donald Trump could be the nominee. So, I have to play this for you. This is something he said in the interview yesterday about your wife and I want to play it for you and get your reaction. Here is Donald Trump in my interview yesterday.-- Former President Bill Clinton, September 29, 2015, discussing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during an interview with Erin Burnett of CNN.
TRUMP: I always respected him. I actually liked him over the years, but when we look at what's going on in the world, when we look at the job that Hillary did as secretary of state, she goes down as perhaps the worst secretary of state in history. And when I run against her evenly in the polls, I'm doing very well against Hillary and beating her. Erin, if you look throughout the world during her reign and the reign of Obama, the whole world is blowing up. We've lost our friendships, we've lost everything.
CLINTON: Well, be the thing about branding is you don't have to be -- you can be fact-free.
Comment: Clinton is accusing Trump of not caring about truth.
CLINTON: I'm not going to sit here and tell people that I make up my mind – that's the Republicans. They make up their mind, they're never bothered by evidence.-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), September 27, 2015, during an interview with Chuck Todd of NBC News. Clinton was questioned on her change of position on certain issues, in comparison to the positions of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
TODD: Bernie Sanders has been on the – sort of, where you are on these issues, Bernie Sanders was there, when it came to marriage, 20 years ago. Do you think one of the reasons he's doing well right now is some progressives think, well, you know what, he was there when it wasn't popular?
CLINTON: Well, he can speak for himself, and I certainly respect his views. I can just tell you that I am not someone who stakes out a position and holds it regardless of the evidence, or regardless of the way that I perceive what's happening in the world around me. And, as I was saying, that's where the Republicans are. You know, they're still believing in trickle down economics, even though it was a disaster not once, but twice for our country.
Comment: Clinton is defending herself for flip-flopping on various issues. She doesn't answer the question of whether or not Sanders' constancy is causing his rise in the polls. Clinton also accuses Republicans of not caring about truth, and of "failed policies".
It’s one thing to marvel at the unprecedented and stupefying levels of GOP know-nothingness on display this election season — the misstatements, the untruths, the exaggerations, the falsehoods, and the straight-up lies. But these vaccine comments represent a legitimate public health menace. And it’s indicative of the allergy to facts, data, and evidence that is the real story of the GOP debate, and indeed of the Republican nominating contest — and we need to be talking more about it. … You’re going to hear about how Marco Rubio sounds substantive and serious on foreign policy, even though his views on America’s role in the world are basically unhinged from reality. … We joke about this stuff, but after a while it’s no longer funny. The Republican Party is dominated by candidates who are proudly, even boastfully ignorant.-- Pundit Michael Cohen, September 17, 2015.
Comment: Cohen is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth.
"The core group of Trump supporters, frankly, often doesn't care about very basic things like facts and reason and logic."-- Pundit Steve Hayes, September 13, 2015. Hayes was referring to supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Comment: Hayes is saying Trump supporters don't care about truth.
RUSH: A couple more audio sound bites. … During the Trump appearance there, it happened on Bloomberg TV today, Market Makers. Erik Schatzker is the host, and he's talking with the Bloomberg Wall Street reporter, Max Abelson about a recent Bloomberg story, how Trump invented Trump.-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, September 3, 2015, on remarks by Schatzker and Abelson made earlier that day about Limbaugh and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
SCHATZKER: Trump seems to have learned the same lesson that folks like -- I don't want to equate them, I'm just drawing a comparison -- that Rush Limbaugh learned. The more you say something, even if it isn't true, the more people believe it is true.
ABELSON: Well, that's definitely probably a very profound American reality, but, on the other hand, I will say that Rush Limbaugh -- actually, I was just about to say Rush Limbaugh is not a businessman in the same sense Donald Trump is, but maybe the Excellence in Broadcasting, is that what Rush Limbaugh's company is called? I think it is.
SCHATZKER: He certainly is successful --
ABELSON: He probably has a real company. But Donald Trump, to be fair, though, has put up huge buildings.
RUSH: These guys are comparing me to Trump, "But Limbaugh doesn't have buildings and Trump has buildings. He's still an impresario, but Trump has learned what Limbaugh learned," and then they get this BS about say something often enough, it doesn't matter whether it's true. You in this audience know full well that everything said on this program is researched to be the truth, and if we screw it up, we correct it. Besides that, these guys forgot about the EIB building in Midtown Manhattan.
Comment: Schatzker and Abelson are comparing Trump and Limbaugh in at least one respect, accusing them of both indulging in "big lie" behavior.
"I know you may not like facts and evidence presented in cases, but they do matter."-- Pundit Sean Hannity, September 1, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio show. His remarks were made to a caller who disagreed with Hannity about the Black Lives Matter movement, and whether certain shootings of black men by police were justified.
Comment: Hannity is accusing the caller of not caring about facts.
“Carbon pollution … it’s the big lie, you repeat it enough … carbon dioxide is not a pollutant … our president is a moron”.-- Pundit Mark Levin, September 1, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio show. His remarks concerned President Barack Obama's comments on climate change.
Comment: Levin is accusing Obama of indulging in "big lie" behavior, and calling him stupid. As I've discussed earlier, Levin's argument on whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant fails to take account of the notion that the dose makes the poison.
"And here come these young kids at the New Republic thinking (summarized), "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! What if? What if Stalin, what if Mao -- oh, my God, what if Gorbachev -- had just had the computers and us that we have today! "Can you imagine with the data collection and the data mining and the algorithms what beautiful results we could create for people?" So it finally cemented something I know, and that is all of this liberalism, most of it -- all of this dreaming and fantasies -- is all rooted in emotion. There isn't a single element of intellectual application to it."-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, August 27, 2015.
Comment: By saying that their positions are based on emotion rather than reasoning, Limbaugh is resorting to "stupid" or "they don't care about facts" rhetoric.
Imagine if Congress voted on whether or not to teach evolution and climate change in school. And imagine that 73% of Republicans voted against it. The backlash would be easy to predict: The national media, and science journalists in particular, would spend a week making somber declarations of impending educational and scientific collapse that would reverberate across the cosmos. As it so happens, Congress did just vote on something of tremendous scientific importance: Biotechnology. And, as it so happens, 73% of Democrats voted against the bill. Yet, the national media remained deafeningly and hypocritically silent. On July 23, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R. 1599, that, among other things, would block states from requiring foods containing genetically modified ingredients to carry special labels. From a scientific viewpoint, this is the correct policy. Yet, the Democratic Party, which has branded itself the "pro-science" party over the last two decades, overwhelmingly opposed it. Why? Well, it's hard to say, though the fact that places like the GMO-hating Whole Foods tending to be located in counties that voted for Barack Obama might have something to do with it. In the final vote tally, 94% of House Republicans supported the bill, while a stunning 73% of Democrats voted against it. Even Democrats who represent districts with a large biotechnology constituency voted against the bill: Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mike Honda (CA-17), and Anna Eshoo (CA-18) -- all from the Bay Area -- as well as Boston's Michael Capuano (MA-7) and Stephen Lynch (MA-8) and Seattle's Jim McDermott (WA-7). The vote pattern made it abundantly clear: On the needlessly hot-button issue of genetic modification, Democrats sided with fearmongers and organic foodies, while Republicans sided with the medical and scientific mainstream. And yes, just like vaccines, evolution, and anthropogenic climate change, GMOs are mainstream and non-controversial in the scientific community. Indeed, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (PDF) -- organizations that represent our nation's finest doctors and scientists -- reject GMO labels.-- Pundit Alex B. Berezow, August 10, 2015.
Comment: This is "scare tactics" rhetoric. Berezow is also suggesting that opponents of GMO are anti-science, or at least that it is hypocritical not to use that epithet against GMO opponents when it is regularly used against opponents of evolution or climate change.
There is no longer a Republican center-right that would have no problem raising the gas tax for something as fundamental as infrastructure. Sure, there are center-right candidates — like Jeb Bush and John Kasich. But can they run, win and govern from the center-right when the base of their party and so many of its billionaire donors reflect the angry anti-science, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-minorities, anti-gay rights and anti-immigration views of the Tea Party and its media enforcer, Fox News?-- Thomas Friedman, August 5, 2015.
Comment: Friedman is demonizing the base of the Republican Party, saying they're anti-science and bigoted.
"Unfortunately, we’re living through a time in American politics where every foreign policy decision is viewed through a partisan prism, evaluated by headline-grabbing sound bites. And so before the ink was even dry on this deal -- before Congress even read it -- a majority of Republicans declared their virulent opposition. Lobbyists and pundits were suddenly transformed into arm-chair nuclear scientists, disputing the assessments of experts like Secretary Moniz, challenging his findings, offering multiple -- and sometimes contradictory -- arguments about why Congress should reject this deal. But if you repeat these arguments long enough, they can get some traction. So let me address just a few of the arguments that have been made so far in opposition to this deal."-- President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015, speaking on the proposed deal on Iran's nuclear program.
Comment: First, Obama is making it sound as if only opponents of the nuclear deal – and not supporters of it – had made up their minds ahead of time and were viewing the issue through a "partisan prism". That is, Obama is engaging in the "only my opponent" caricature. Second, Obama is making a flawed appeal to authority, dismissing the criticisms of people who aren't nuclear scientists. Just because a person isn't a nuclear expert doesn't mean they have no valid criticisms on nuclear topics. (Some of the criticism of the deal doesn't even rely on nuclear issues, it has to do with diplomatic matters, such as whether Iranian leaders are trustworthy.) Third, Obama says critics are offering "contradictory" arguments, suggesting hypocrisy. But, there's nothing hypocritical about one person offering one criticism, and a different person offering a logically contradictory one. Since Obama doesn't name who the critics are, how do we know they're being hypocritical and self-contradictory? Last, Obama is suggesting something akin to the "big lie" theory is at work with his critics, where repetition of a bad idea will give it credibility.
A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.-- New York Times editorial, July 22, 2015. The editorial concerns a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.
Comment: The New York Times is demonizing the makers of the video, saying they don't want women to have reproductive rights, care nothing about truth, and will say anything to win. Would it be fair to say that The New York Times editorial board supports infanticide, or would they call that demonizing?
This year is the 10th anniversary of a book called "The Republican War on Science." I could just as easily write a book called "The Democratic War on Science." The conflict conservatives have with science is mostly caused by religion. Some religious conservatives reject evolution, and some oppose stem cell research. But neither belief has a big impact on our day-to-day lives. … By contrast, the left's bad ideas about science do more harm. Many on the left -- including a few of my fellow libertarians -- are paranoid about genetically modified organisms. … The left's anti-science fears also prevent us from building new nuclear reactors, especially after Fukushima and Chernobyl.-- Pundit John Stossel, June 17, 2015.
Comment: This is "anti-science" rhetoric, and "war" rhetoric. Stossel seems to be arguing that, if this sort of rhetoric is fair to use against conservatives, then it's hypocritical not to use it on liberals and progressives, too. I'm not sure if he's advocating the rhetoric as a means of retaliating in kind.
When it comes to economics — and other subjects, but I’ll focus on what I know best — we live in an age of derp and cheap cynicism. And there are powerful forces behind both tendencies. But those forces can be fought, and the place to start fighting is within yourself. What am I talking about here? “Derp” is a term borrowed from the cartoon “South Park” that has achieved wide currency among people I talk to, because it’s useful shorthand for an all-too-obvious feature of the modern intellectual landscape: people who keep saying the same thing no matter how much evidence accumulates that it’s completely wrong. … Thus, if you’re a conservative opposed to a stronger safety net, you should be extra skeptical about claims that health reform is about to crash and burn, especially coming from people who made the same prediction last year and the year before (Obamacare derp runs almost as deep as inflation derp). But if you’re a liberal who believes that we should reduce inequality, you should similarly be cautious about studies purporting to show that inequality is responsible for many of our economic ills, from slow growth to financial instability. Those studies might be correct — the fact is that there’s less derp on America’s left than there is on the right — but you nonetheless need to fight the temptation to let political convenience dictate your beliefs.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, June 8, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is essentially accusing people of not caring about truth, while also caricaturing Republicans and conservatives (the right) by saying that they ignore truth more than the opposition Democrats, liberals, and progressives (the left), without providing any rigorous statistics to back up this claim.
RUSH: The host says to David Shipler, the author of Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword, "You write about people like Rush Limbaugh using racial imagery to criticize Obama with no repercussions. But you write in the book about an ice cream store employee who put racial epithets of Obama online and was fired. One's punished, one is rewarded," meaning me. Here's the reply.-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, May 27, 2015, regarding remarks made about him by pundit David Shipler posted May 26, 2015.
SHIPLER: Let's face it, it's money. Rush Limbaugh does make millions of dollars, and he brings in -- has a huge audience. I think he's America's master propagandist. If you use the definition of propaganda that I heard when I was a Moscow correspondent from a Soviet professor, who described it as a truth, a truth, a truth, and then a lie. You weave in facts that are indisputable, or then half facts, semi-truths, and then by the time you got the listener engaged, you put in a lie or a semi-lie. I love to listen to Rush Limbaugh, actually. I do listen to him when I'm driving at the right time. There's practically no place in the country where you can't pick him up in the early afternoon because I really want to know how he does this. It's very clever.
RUSH: Can you imagine this, a full-fledged leftist admitting or claiming that he doesn't know how to lie and massage things to move his agenda forward? This is projection. This is exactly what these guys do. They are the ones that propagandize, and worse than that, they indoctrinate, which is what public and private education is becoming, and certainly university education. It's not mind opening, it's mind closing in its indoctrination.
Comment: Both Limbaugh and Shipler are resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature in accusing one another of dishonesty (perhaps "big lie" theory). Shipler is also accusing Limbaugh of racism.
"In their world, truth doesn't matter."-- Pundit Sean Hannity, May 20, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio show, remarking on President Barack Obama, liberals, and Democrats.
Comment: Hannity is demonizing his opponents, saying they don't care about truth.
The 2016 campaign should be almost entirely about issues. The parties are far apart on everything from the environment to fiscal policy to health care, and history tells us that what politicians say during a campaign is a good guide to how they will govern. Nonetheless, many in the news media will try to make the campaign about personalities and character instead. And character isn’t totally irrelevant. The next president will surely encounter issues that aren’t currently on anyone’s agenda, so it matters how he or she is likely to react. But the character trait that will matter most isn’t one the press likes to focus on. In fact, it’s actively discouraged. … No, what you should really look for, in a world that keeps throwing nasty surprises at us, is intellectual integrity: the willingness to face facts even if they’re at odds with one’s preconceptions, the willingness to admit mistakes and change course. And that’s a virtue in very short supply. … Just to be clear, I’m not calling for an end to ideology in politics, because that’s impossible. Everyone has an ideology, a view about how the world does and should work. Indeed, the most reckless and dangerous ideologues are often those who imagine themselves ideology-free — for example, self-proclaimed centrists — and are, therefore, unaware of their own biases. What you should seek, in yourself and others, is not an absence of ideology but an open mind, willing to consider the possibility that parts of the ideology may be wrong. … So what’s the state of intellectual integrity at this point in the election cycle? Pretty bad, at least on the Republican side of the field. … as far as I can tell no important Republican figure has admitted that none of the terrible consequences that were supposed to follow health reform — mass cancellation of existing policies, soaring premiums, job destruction — has actually happened. The point is that we’re not just talking about being wrong on specific policy questions. We’re talking about never admitting error, and never revising one’s views. Never being able to say that you were wrong is a serious character flaw even if the consequences of that refusal to admit error fall only on a few people. But moral cowardice should be outright disqualifying in anyone seeking high office.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, May 1, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is discussing the topic of character in politics. He makes a good point about ideology (i.e., everybody has one, you can't get rid of it), but he leaves the impression that only Republicans refuse to take responsibility for their failed predictions. That is, he's resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature and demonizing Republicans by suggesting that they don't care about truth. Krugman also exaggerates when he says Republicans "never" admit error. Perhaps this is a tu quoque argument on my part, but is it a lack of intellectual integrity for Krugman to only be alarmed at the absence of accountability of Republicans, and not Democrats as well? After all, President Barack Obama and other Democrats made predictions about the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") that didn't come true (e.g., premiums will drop by up to $2,500 dollars, if you like your plan or doctor, you can keep them, etc.), but they haven't owned up to their errors, have they?
Imagine yourself as a regular commentator on public affairs … You weigh in on a major policy initiative that’s about to happen, making strong predictions of disaster. … But nothing you predicted actually comes to pass. What do you do? You might admit that you were wrong, and try to figure out why. But almost nobody does that; we live in an age of unacknowledged error. Alternatively, you might insist that sinister forces are covering up the grim reality. … Finally, there’s a third option: You can pretend that you didn’t make the predictions you did. … Several months into 2014 many leading Republicans — including John Boehner, the speaker of the House — were predicting that more people would lose coverage than gain it. And everyone on the right was predicting that the law would cost far more than projected, adding hundreds of billions if not trillions to budget deficits. What actually happened? There was no rate shock … You see, in a polarized political environment, policy debates always involve more than just the specific issue on the table. They are also clashes of world views. … And there’s also a moral issue involved. Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life. It rises to the level of real wrongdoing when policies that affect millions of lives are at stake.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, April 27, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is discussing character in politics, but also indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature by leaving the impression that only (or mostly) Republicans fail to correct their mistakes. He is demonizing Republicans in suggesting that they aren't concerned about being honest.
A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind. After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s. … The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community.-- Pundit Mark Lynas, April 24, 2015.
Comment: This is caricaturing people who disagree with the safety of genetically modified foods (GMOs) by saying they are against science. Also, this is "war" rhetoric.
OzarkOrc, of Rogers, Arkansas: As correctly noted in the column, this seems to be a "Feature" not a bug in the current Republican Party, a deliberate, total ignorance about truth and facts, They have their own "Flat Earth" version of our Economic, Social and Political system, and what is really scary is that many of their elected representatives seem to truly believe the lies sold by their Orwellian propaganda machine. A generation ago, both parties operated from a consensus set of facts, with a few nut cases on the Fringes. The Republicans have rummaged around in their Lunatic Bin and put them in charge-- Commenters, March 30, 2015, on "Imaginary Health Care Horrors", a piece by pundit Paul Krugman.
Spence, of Malvern, PA: For the GOP, "reality" does not matter. It's all about creating “perception”. Those that frame the debate and control the narrative - win. It's that simple. Facts can be spin out of existence and drowned out by loudest megaphone.
Comment: The commenters are accusing Republicans of not caring about truth.
Before [the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare")] went into effect, opponents predicted disaster on all levels. What has happened instead is that the law is working pretty well. So how have the prophets of disaster responded? By pretending that the bad things they said would happen have, in fact, happened. … At a deeper level, however, what we’re looking at here is the impact of post-truth politics. We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 30, 2015, in a piece titled, "Imaginary Health Care Horrors".
Comment: Krugman is claiming that the opponents of Obamacare don't care about truth. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act have also been loathe to admit that they made predictions that proved false, does that mean they also don't care about truth?
An extremely dishonest man, that's who. [and] vehemently anti-immigrant to boot. RT: @Azi @bonkapp: ¿Quién es Ted Cruz?-- Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, March 24, 2015, in a tweet regarding Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Cruz is anti-immigrant. Plus, what is her evidence that Cruz is "extremely dishonest"?
There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria. He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army. He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working. To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.-- Pundit Bret Stephens, March 23, 2015.
Comment: Granted, President Barack Obama has been hypocritical in some of his positions, but isn't that true of most politicians? Do the problems with Obama's positions really make him more "Orwellian" – that is, indifferent to truth – than most politicians? This seems like demonizing.
By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from. But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. … The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum. … Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint. … So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why. … Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 20, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth. Both Democrats and Republicans make outlandish claims from time to time, why should we conclude that only the latter – and not both of them – is guilty of "raw dishonesty"? More, Krugman is saying that Republicans want to take money from the poor and give it to the rich. This is false and derisive. Republicans generally want to lower taxes and lower social spending: maybe they are wrong to want to do so, but spending less money on the poor is not the same as taking money from the poor, and taking less in taxes from the rich is not the same as giving them money.
Hillary's Watergate-- Synopsis of an article posted on Lucianne Goldberg's website, March 9, 2015.
It's nearly impossible to tell the truth when you never have.
Comment: This is demonizing, describing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as always lying.
A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. And pizza partisanship tells you a lot about what is happening to American politics as a whole. … The pizza lobby portrays itself as the defender of personal choice and personal responsibility. It’s up to the consumer, so the argument goes, to decide what he or she wants to eat, and we don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do. … free-market fundamentalists don’t want to hear about qualifications to their doctrine. Also, with big corporations involved, the Upton Sinclair principle applies: It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. … At a still deeper level, health experts may say that we need to change how we eat, pointing to scientific evidence, but the Republican base doesn’t much like experts, science, or evidence. … Pizza partisanship, then, sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. It is, instead, a case study in the toxic mix of big money, blind ideology, and popular prejudices that is making America ever less governable.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 6, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is demonizing the "Republican base", saying that they don't care about truth. More, though the quote from Sinclair may be true, it risks an implied ad hominem argument: just because it's in someone's interest to adopt a certain position doesn't mean their position is wrong.
Far from the dire picture painted by the president and his fellow Democrats, 90 percent of the Department of Homeland Security would remain on the job in a partial government shutdown. President Obama and congressional Democrats are offering up doomsday scenarios if the Department of Homeland Security funding authorization expires this Friday. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson implied on the talk shows Sunday morning that efforts to thwart terrorist attacks and assist Americans buried in snow could be imperiled if Republicans keep trying to de-fund the president’s executive action on illegal immigration. Johnson amplified his dire predictions that afternoon before a gathering of the National Governors Association, saying: “[A shutdown] means taking people off the front line and realigning their responsibility.” Not to be outdone, the president issued his own warning in a session Monday before the National Governors Association. A partial government shutdown, he said, would end up suspending pay for more than 100,000 Homeland Security agents, which “will have a direct impact on America’s national security because their hard work helps to keep us safe.” All very interesting, except what they’re saying isn’t true. According to figures from the brief government shutdown last year, the department has 231,117 employees, 31,295 of whom, or 13.5 percent, were furloughed. A closer examination reveals that all essential personnel would remain on the job, from Secret Service agents who protect the president to TSA screeners protecting us in airports and counterterrorism personnel. Looked at another way, 87 percent of Homeland Security personnel were deemed essential and remained at their posts during the last funding impasse between the White House and Congress. Eighty-seven percent. … Obama and his Democrat enablers are Chicken Littles predicting dire harm to the country when they know nothing is further than the truth.-- Pundit Ron Christie, February 24, 2015, in an article entitled, "Obama Is the Scaremonger-in-Chief".
Comment: Christie is accusing President Barack Obama of fear-mongering, though he is explaining why he believes the fears are unjustified. He is also accusing Obama and Democrats of lying.
Liberals know they are full of it; they just think the rest of us are as foolish as the welfare-guzzling mouth-breathers who vote for them. It’s time for the lies to stop. Liberals, stop lying about the weather. There is no climate change crisis. Whatever changes our climate is undergoing are part and parcel of the natural processes that have been going on since the Earth was formed. … Liberals, stop lying about our war with radical Muslims. This bloodshed isn’t “random.” This isn’t about “violent extremism.” Mass enslavement, mutilation and murder isn’t “workplace violence,” and these semi-human freaks aren’t going to stop if someone hands them a mop, bucket and paycheck. We are at war – war – with radical Islam, and we need to end the lies, the equivocation and dissembling and speak the truth. Our enemies think they are Muslims, and they think the Koran commands their actions. This isn’t about theology – whether their version of Islam is a misunderstanding or misinterpretation is utterly irrelevant. They think they’re pious Muslims even if we, as well as most of the world’s Muslims, disagree. … Well, here’s a conservative who says it’s critical to understand the radical Muslims. We need to fully appreciate how they think, their goals, their ideas, their feelings. Understanding them will help us more effectively hunt down and kill them. … Liberals, stop lying about illegal aliens. They aren’t all hardworking and they aren’t all here because they love America and have dreams and stuff. Some are criminals. Some are bums. None were invited. Their problems are a result of their choices. We owe them nothing. Want out of the shadows? Go home. … Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton. Lena Dunham. Jon Gruber. That woman with the glasses who thinks we should carpet bomb ISIS with want ads. All liberals. All liars. Liberals, stop lying about everything.-- Pundit Kurt Schlichter, February 23, 2015.
Comment: Schlichter references a lot of different "liberal" words and deeds, too many for me to cover all of what he's said, but here are a few points: first, "welfare-guzzling mouth-breathers" is simply name-calling. It's a slur. Second, is it really true that ALL liberals believe these things? Isn't that a hasty generalization (along the same lines as "all illegal aliens are hard-working"), one that means Schlichter himself is lying? Third, Schlichter gives no evidence for the claim that global warming is natural, and – even if it is – is it really unreasonable to the point of being a lie for someone to believe global warming is man-made? Fourth, notice that Schlichter points out that we need to understand (though not justify) terrorism, and that noting the Islamic affiliation of many terrorists is a key part of understanding them (which will in turn help us stop them). Finally, Schlichter is distorting the words of State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf ("That woman with the glasses who thinks we should carpet bomb ISIS with want ads."), using the "silver bullet" caricature. Harf never said jobs were all that was needed to defeat ISIS, in fact she clearly spelled out that military force (among other things) would be used as well.
[Regarding the Islamic affiliation of many terrorists] President Obama continues to insist the opposite, pretending that what is true is false, and even suggesting those who are speaking the truth are actually endangering the lives of innocent people. … in its statement the White House avoided saying that the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded by members of ISIS were Christian, even though that was the reason they were beheaded. At the same time the president suggested that the murder of three Muslim students at the University of North Carolina was because they were Muslim, when in fact that wasn’t by any means clear when the White House issued its statement. … And then there was the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, in which the president and his attorney general constantly spoke about the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson as if race was a factor in the shooting. That assertion is fiction. It was an invention, just as it was an invention to suggest, as the president did back in 2009, that the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. by Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley was racially motivated. … Which makes Mr. Obama a truly post-modern president, in which there is no objective truth but simply narrative. Mr. Obama doesn’t just distort the facts; he inverts them. He makes things up as he goes along. … The sheer audacity of Mr. Obama’s multipronged assault on truth is one of the more troubling aspects of his deeply troubling president.-- Pundit Peter Wehner, February 22, 2015.
Comment: Wehner is arguing that false statements, distortions, and hypocritical double-standards on the part of President Barack Obama prove that Obama doesn't care at all about truth or facts. Does the same standard apply to everyone who says something false or is found guilty of double-standards?
Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening. What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins. … Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, conservatives predicted disaster: health costs would soar, the deficit would explode, more people would lose insurance than gain it. They were wrong on all counts. … Along with this denial of reality comes an absence of personal accountability. If anything, alleged experts seem to get points by showing that they’re willing to keep saying the same things no matter how embarrassingly wrong they’ve been in the past.-- Pundit Paul Krugman, February 20, 2015.
Comment: Krugman is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth (or maybe being out of touch with reality). It's true that Republicans have made predictions about the policies of Obama and Democrats that haven't come true (though it may be too early to judge the predictions on health care reform), but Obama and Democrats have made false predictions, as well. (On health care reform, it was said that people would be able to keep their existing health insurance and that premiums could drop by as much as $2,500.) Like Republicans, Democrats have refused to own up to the falsity of their predictions on economic issues, military affairs, etc. Does this prove that Democrats also don't care about truth or are out of touch with reality?
"It has been a remarkable news day today, lots to get to. Today something truly rare happened. We got a look at the inner workings of a pre-meditated, politically calculated, ends justify the means lie. It involves candidate – and then president – Barack Obama knowingly, willfully misleading the public. Now, no one died, it is not a case of corruption. It is politics at its most elemental and morally treacherous. And it comes courtesy of Barack Obama's longtime advisor, David Axelrod, in his new book. The headline: "Obama Misled Nation When He Opposed Gay Marriage in 2008. A striking admission of political dishonesty." Of course, many suspected at the time that candidate Obama was just pretending to oppose full marriage equality in his first presidential race, because he thought the country wasn't ready to vote for a presidential candidate who supported it. Some even believed he never would have been elected president in 2008 if he had supported gay marriage. … Quoting Time Magazine, "As a state senate candidate in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire saying, "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages."" … Bear in mind that President Barack Obama didn't voice support for same-sex marriage until 2012, 16 years later."-- Pundit Chris Hayes, February 11, 2015. Hayes is referring to David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, who Axelrod claims misled Americans regarding his position on gay marriage.
Comment: Hayes is saying (or, perhaps, is passing along a claim from Axelrod) that Obama didn't simply flip-flop on gay marriage, but that he lied about his position on gay marriage. Hayes is saying that the lie was a means justified by the end of getting elected president.
In Canada, a week is not complete without another denunciation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s so-called war on science. But what about the progressives’ war on science? That war actually kills people. As Hank Campbell, co-author of the book Science Left Behind, writes, “If some crank school district tries to deny evolution, no one is going to die and it just makes them look backward and stupid. Denying food, medicine and energy science, like progressives do, is costing lives.” In Canada, the progressive war on science is aimed squarely at the energy industry. A large number of Canadians believe that anything connected to fossil fuels is inherently suspect.-- Pundit Margaret Wente, November 29, 2014.
Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and demonizing people as being anti-science.
The war over science is heating up on Capitol Hill. … Opponents in the scientific world and their political allies believe that, at its heart, the GOP assault isn’t about bringing greater accountability to the EPA or NSF, but rather a larger lack of trust in science that could soon spur efforts to micromanage NIH, the Department of Defense and other agencies that, all told, spend tens of billions on scientific research every year.-- Politico reporter Maggie Severns, November 27, 2014.
Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and demonizing people as being anti-science.
Examples from 2012.
"But the "mindless" repetition of DNC talking points has nothing to do with their intellectual prowess or lack thereof; they are merely doing their part for the progressive cause, using a technique as old as demagoguery and equally effective -- the Big Lie. The theory of the Big Lie was succinctly expounded by Adolf Hitler, an acknowledged master of the genre. ... There are very few things the left is really good at, but one of them is propaganda, its bread and butter, the biggest arrow in its quiver. … The liberals have fully absorbed the lessons taught by their ideological progenitors, the Nazi socialists and Soviet communists. They understand that the big lie, if endlessly repeated, is extremely effective. Its purpose is to establish in the minds of the target audience an automatic stimulus-response connection, a Pavlovian conditioned reflex: capitalist = fat cat; George Bush = moron; Sarah Palin = idiot; Barack Obama = genius, any Kennedy = gift to mankind, etc. ... Just repeat your slogan often enough, and once embedded in the minds of the people the mantra becomes reality for them. ... They know what they are doing. If you tell a man that he is a swine persistently enough, sooner or later he will start oinking. The Democrats understand the principle and that's why they are extremely disciplined in their propaganda efforts."-- Columnist Victor Volsky, August 13, 2011.
Comment: First, Volsky puts forth "talking points" rhetoric. Second, he falsely says that Hitler advocated the "big lie" theory. (Rather, Hitler accused and criticized Marxists and Jewish people for advocating it.) Third, Volsky is accusing Democrats of adopting the "big lie" behavior.
"All throughout history, you know, there's been the big lie. And we got the big lie going here again. And it goes lie this: "Republicans won't let us have health care reform. Waah. Republicans are the party of "no", waah. Why are Republicans stopping us from reforming health care? Waah." Well, I gotta tellya something: the Democrats have won the last two elections -- because we did such a bang-up job -- but the fact of the matter is, there's 257 of them, there's only 177 of us … we couldn't stop a one-car parade. This health care discussion is a fight between the left and the far left."-- Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), October 27, 2009, from the floor of the House.
Comment: Along with "big lie" rhetoric, LaTourette is engaging in name-calling by effectively saying that Democrats are cry-babies.
The Republican War on Science-- The title of a book written by pundit Chris Mooney, released August 30, 2005.
Comment: This is both "war" rhetoric and demonizing people as being anti-science.
"A very intelligent political reporter I know said the other night that Republicans simply run better campaigns than Democrats. If I were given a free pass to stretch the truth to the breaking point, I could run a pretty good campaign, too."-- Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., September 23, 2004, in a column entitled "Twisting the Truth".
Comment: To make his case, Dionne cites several distortions in this article made by President George W. Bush. Would Dionne agree that the unchallenged falsehoods and distortions from Democrats prove that they, too, are getting a "free pass to stretch the truth to the breaking point"?
"There are no American troops in Baghdad."-- Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraqi Minister of Information, April 7, 2003. Sahhaf -- dubbed "Baghdad Bob" by many Americans -- made the above comments as U.S. tanks were in the background.
Comment: During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sahhaf made many incredible statements about U.S. forces being handily defeated by Iraqi forces, statements which proved to be false.
"Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the American people. Thank you."-- President Bill Clinton, January 26, 1998.
Comment: Clinton later admitted that Lewinsky had performed oral sex on him on several occasions.
"His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it."-- Psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer, in 1943 report on Adolf Hitler for the United States' Office of Strategic Services (OSS), declassified March 12, 1968,
Comment: Langer is making the "big lie" accusation against Hitler.
"The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."-- Joseph Goebbels, January 12, 1941, in the article "From Churchill's Lie Factory".
Comment: Goebbels is making the "big lie" accusation against English people.
"But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice. All this was inspired by the principle -- which is quite true within itself -- that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying."-- Adolf Hitler, 1925, from "Mein Kampf", volume 1, chapter 10 (James Murphy's translation).
Comment: Hitler is making the "big lie" accusation against Marxists and Jewish people.
(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)