DeMint’s error of fact and judgment

DEMINT’S ERROR OF FACT AND JUDGMENT…. Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina spent much of the last week making bizarre remarks about the White House and national security policy. As a reward, CNN invited DeMint to appear on “State of the Union” yesterday, because if there’s one iron-clad rule in political journalism, it’s that being loud is more important than being correct.

DeMint told guest-host Gloria Borger that U.S. officials “probably lost valuable information” by subjecting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to criminal charges — he couldn’t back the claim up, but he thinks he’s “probably” right — before once again blaming Obama. “[T]he president has downplayed the risk of terror since he took office,” DeMint claimed.

It led to this exchange:

BORGER: How has he — Senator DeMint, how — how has [Obama] downplayed the risk of terror?

DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.

BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.

DEMINT: Aside from the semantics, he’s been completely distracted by other things….

That’s a lot of nonsense in a short period of time. First, being “distracted” is not the same thing as “downplaying,” and if DeMint can’t back up his claims, he shouldn’t make them. Second, Obama hasn’t been “distracted” at all; he’s taken counter-terrorism far more seriously than Republicans have.

But Greg Sargent highlights one of the less-obvious points: DeMint’s underlying claim — that the president refuses to use the word “terror” — is both foolish and wrong, a detail Borger ignored altogether.

[F]or those of you interested in reality, the claim is simply false. In his weekly address only 24 hours before DeMint made his claim, Obama used the term “terror,” “terrorism,” or “terrorists” a half dozen times in a brief statement. He repeatedly used the words in an October speech. Other administration officials have repeatedly used them, too. […]

[I]f we’re going to deem DeMint’s claim newsworthy, the question of whether Obama actually does or doesn’t use the word seems marginally relevant, too.

Exactly. DeMint’s over-arching claim is that Obama has downplayed counter-terrorism by neglecting to use the word “terrorism.” It’s an error of fact and judgment, which was nevertheless widely picked up by news outlets.

And if history is any guide, DeMint will be punished for lying on national television by receiving several more invitations to lie on national television.

Post Script: It’s worth noting that DeMint was on MSNBC this morning, where he said President Obama now “seems to be on the right approach” when it comes to counter-terrorism. Why DeMint believes Obama was wrong 24 hours ago, but right this morning, is unclear.