FALSE EQUIVALENCY WATCH…. Following up on an earlier item, the Washington Post had a piece today on campaign mendacity. The Post’s Jonathan Weisman noted that the Republican ticket has been “more aggressive in recent days in repeating what their opponents say are outright lies.” That’s an unnecessarily polite way of saying McCain and Palin have been repeating bogus claims, even after they’ve been exposed as bogus claims.
But Weisman, like most reporters at major outlets, has to strive for “balance.”
A number of fabrications about Palin’s policies and personal life, for instance, have circulated on the Internet since she joined the Republican ticket. […]
A slew of distortions that have spread through e-mail and on the Internet has also put Palin on the receiving end of some of that truth-stretching — so much so that the campaign dispatched a group of supporters yesterday to act as a “truth-squadding team.” The unfounded charges include that Palin cut special-needs funding in Alaska and that she was a member of the Alaska Independence Party.
So, reading Weisman’s piece, we learn that the McCain campaign, including both members of the ticket, have publicly repeated demonstrably false claims about earmarks, taxes, and foreign policy. Reading the same piece, we learn that the McCain campaign has been subjected to a few falsehoods that have “circulated on the Internet.”
Isn’t there a qualitative distinction to be made here? It seems like there’s a false equivalency between the Republican Party ticket lying on a daily basis, and a few emails that aren’t connected to the Democratic Party at all.
There was also this odd paragraph in Weisman’s article:
A McCain quote Obama has often used — that the economy is fundamentally sound — is months old. Since he said that, McCain has said almost daily that the economy is struggling. As for exaggerations, Obama said yesterday that he had supported a measure in the Illinois Senate to double the number of charter schools in Chicago. In fact, he was one of 14 state senators co-sponsoring a non-controversial measure that passed unanimously.
First, the McCain quote isn’t “months old”; McCain told Laura Ingraham, “I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong” three weeks ago today. So why is it, exactly, that Weisman believes it’s unfair for the Obama campaign to mention it?
Second, if Obama co-sponsored an Illinois measure on expanding charter schools in Chicago, and then tells voters that he supported a measure to expand charter schools in Chicago, why is it an “exaggeration”?