The other day I noted here that it would be nice to see news organizations devoting stand-alone stories focused specifically on the Romney campaign’s strategic dishonesty, open scorn for fact checking, and all around calculation that it will pay no price for adhering to no standards of accuracy whatsoever. It’s good to see that the New York Times’ excellent Michael Cooper today has weighed in with something very close to this.
One single Obama falsehood about abortion makes the cut in a story that is focused almost entirely on a fusillade of Romney/Ryan whoppers. The story fingers “both parties” at one point, even though virtually all the distortions documented come from one side, in an apparent bid for “even-handedness.” But that’s an aside. The disparity in subject matter speaks for itself: The topic of the story is plainly on what’s coming out of the Romney campaign, even if it’s impermissible to say so.
Indeed, the piece uses Mitt Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s acceptance speeches specifically as its jumping off point, suggesting, crucially, that those speeches suggest that what we may be seeing here is something new:
The two speeches — peppered with statements that were incorrect or incomplete — seemed to signal the arrival of a new kind of presidential campaign, one in which concerns about fact-checking have been largely set aside.
The piece then goes on to correct, with no equivocation, around five major categories of falsehoods contained in the GOP ticket’s speeches.
Meanwhile, Thomas Mann, a respected Congressional scholar who has been observing the political scene for a very long time, has added his voice to those who think the Romney campaign is crossing into new frontiers of dishonesty:
“The Romney campaign has, as is strikingly evident at the Tampa convention, broken new ground in its brazen and cynical disregard for the truth.”
I don’t really know if continuing to point this stuff out will ever sink in with voters. Obama campaign advisers seems to think it will; they are planning a new offensive designed to more aggressively highlight the falsehoods coming out of the Romney camp, pointing to them as evidence of the two mens’ lack of character and integrity. But in truth, the target audience for this offensive may well be the news media, not the voters.
Ryan in particular continues to enjoy an undeserved reputation as a very serious wonky sort with reporters and commentators; continuing to point out his serial dishonesty and dissembling about his own plans could perhaps bring him down a bit with this crowd and lead them to treat him with a bit more skepticism. Indeed, that may already be happening. Romney, meanwhile, seemed to dial back his mendacity a bit in last night’s speech. So who knows, perhaps all the negative coverage calling out their falsehoods is having some kind of impact.
Either way, it’s good to see that there is at least a bit of debate stirring about what’s happening here, even if we’re not yet seeing anything approaching the response it deserves.