Lies and Getting Mean, Ugly and Stupid

So you think the media, with its attention span of, uh, 60 minutes, has moved on to something besides Rathergate?

Like the news that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has ended in a whimper and not a bang. Well, both are on the blog burners today.

The Poorman offers a “quantitative comparison” between Rathergate and Saddam’s WMD. A spread sheet of sorts.

Roger L. Simon thinks he’s found a liar, and it’s not Rather or the president:

The lie that concerns me is the one that might actually have some public effect — that there was no proof that the National Guard documents were forgeries. It’s amazing [Dick] Thornburgh and [Lou] Boccardi could assert this with a straight face, considering their own expert — the only one they cite in their own appendix — says the exact opposite, just as every other reputable typography expert does without any of them being contradicted except in the most inept manner. …

“Why did Dick Thornburgh lie,” asks Simon.

Kristina Borjesson, guest-blogging on Buzzflash, cuts to the heart of the question that the independent panel did not answer: “Where did those documents come from and who created them? Frankly, I think that the network would have been far better served by dispensing with the Thornburg/Boccardi investigation and hiring some highly reptilian private investigators to dig up the truth about the documents instead.”

Borjesson speaks with some authority.

Having spent three years at CBS producing hours for CBS Reports with Dan Rather, having won an Emmy for investigative reporting in the process and having had to verify documents for my own shows, I can tell you that the bottom-line onus is on the producer to make sure that all the reporting — including all documentation — is in order.

And what about the other big story hovering out there? Brad DeLong makes no bones about the reason he’s opposed to Bush’s Social Security plans: Experience.

We’ve seen what Bush administration proposals turn into. We’ve seen it turn a surplus into a deficit. We’ve seen its idea of a farm bill. We’ve seen its steel tariff — bad economics, bad mercantilism, and bad politics. We’ve seen the recent corporate tax monstrosity. We’ve seen the Medicare drug benefit. We’ve heard from Paul O’Neill. … The Bush administration is batting as close to a zero on economic policy as an administration can — and economic policy is the bright spot in this administration.

So one’s assessment of what the Bush Social Security “reform” plan is going to be must be more-or-less like this: it may look cute and friendly now, but it won’t stay cute and friendly for long. Somehow — we’re not sure how — it’s gonna get mean. It’s going to get ugly. And it’s going to get stupid. The chances that whatever the Bush administration proposes and the Republican Congressional leadership gets behind will be good for the country are indistinguishable from zero.

Susan Q. Stranahan

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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.