People like Washington Post national political editor John Harris get really upset when you tell them that although their reporters--some of their reporters--have credibility, the Washington Post operation as a whole has none. Here's an example not from the print but the web side of the operation:
Eleanor Clift writes a story called "The Biggest Political Lies of 2005" and the liars are... "the White House declaration that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent... the White House... “everybody saw the same intelligence we did”... Bush .. “We do not torture”... Cheney... “the insurgency is in its last throes”... The revelation that President Bush authorized spying on American citizens without warrants... Bush says he bypassed the law because of the need for speed...the facts say otherwise... Bush’s explanation is riddled with lies... Alito wants us to believe he was a callow young thirtysomething who advocated far-right positions to curry favor for a job. The White House is telling senators that Alito didn’t mean all those things he wrote about disregarding privacy rights and overturning Roe v. Wade—another big lie. No wonder this year’s list was so easy to put together..."
What headline does WPNI put on the story? "Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It's a shame the list of contenders is so long." What is Clift's list of contenders: Bush, Cheney, and Alito. That's not a long list at all. "But maybe," some editor or headline writer at WPNI thought, "we can get all the people who simply scan the headlines to think that Eleanor Clift is saying something very different from what she actually says."
Big Lies - Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com : Who told the worst political untruth of 2005? It’s a shame the list of contenders is so long.
Every holiday season, we on "The McLaughlin Group" hand out news awards. Some categories, like "Biggest Winner," are easy (My choice was Chief Justice John Roberts, with the oil companies as runner-up). Others are a struggle to fill, like who to insult with the “Overrated” award.
In compiling this year’s list, I had the highest number of entries for the category, “Biggest Lie.” I chose the White House declaration that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby had nothing to do with leaking the identity of a covert CIA agent. They were the principal participants in the effort to discredit former ambassador Joe Wilson because he had raised doubts about one of the pillars of their argument for war, namely that Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake uranium to make a bomb.
Another favorite—heard all the time from the White House—is that “everybody saw the same intelligence we did.” Members of Congress don’t see the President’s Daily Briefing (one of them was the glossed-over pre-9/11 document that warned “Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the U.S.”), and they didn’t see all the qualifying caveats about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, or the doubts about the credibility of the sources the administration was relying on.
Bush is good at stating the obviously untrue. “We do not torture,” he declared despite ample evidence to the contrary from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo to secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Vice President Cheney went to Capitol Hill repeatedly to lobby for the U.S. right to torture, capitulating only when the vote went against him 90 to 9. Sen. John McCain, who was tortured when held prisoner during the Vietnam War, took on Bush’s No. 2 and stood up for democratic principles. It’s a wonder Cheney has any credibility left after assuring the country in May, “the insurgency is in its last throes.”
The revelation that President Bush authorized spying on American citizens without warrants is a late entry to the year’s “Biggest Lies” list. Bush says he bypassed the law because of the need for speed. He may believe that, but the facts say otherwise.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 established a special FISA secret court designed to act expeditiously. The executive branch can tap anybody’s phone and not even get a warrant until 72 hours after the fact. The FISA court isn’t picky; it’s only turned down five requests out of 19,000 in its quarter-century existence. Bush publicly and proudly says he will continue to break the law. The Washington Post reported that one FISA court judge has resigned in apparent protest, and the others are asking why we have a secret court when it is ignored.
Bush’s explanation is riddled with lies. He says our enemies are watching and threatens The New York Times, which broke the spying story, with legal action. It takes a vivid imagination to believe that Osama bin Laden and his buddies are keeping up with the niceties of FISA courts and would otherwise have no idea their phones might be tapped. Bush says he talks to Congress all the time and that there was plenty of congressional oversight. Not true. The Gang of Eight (leaders of both parties in the House and Senate, plus the chair and ranking members of the Intelligence Committees) were forbidden to take notes or discuss what they were told with colleagues or staff. Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s hand-written letter to Cheney expressed uneasiness about the program. Rockefeller couldn’t have its legality evaluated by staff. He couldn’t even have the letter typed because of the secrecy. That hardly qualifies as congressional oversight.
The cavalier attitude toward the checks and balance of a democratic society is a pattern with this administration. Bush and Cheney regard Congress and the judiciary as obstacles, not as equal branches of government. The polls show that a majority of Americans no longer trust this team, which is why Bush and Cheney are hitting back hard at their critics. If they lose this round over spying, the spillover effect will be devastating for their war policy and on any domestic agenda they hope to salvage. We have no mechanism to deal with a president who has lost the trust and confidence of the American people and has three years remaining in office. Impeachment is a nonissue; it’s not going to happen with Republicans in control of the House and Senate.
What will happen is more open insurrection on the part of senators—both Democrats and Republicans. Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito are scheduled to begin the first week in January. In the weeks since being named by Bush, there have been a series of stories about Alito’s early writings as a member of the Reagan administration. Alito wants us to believe he was a callow young thirtysomething who advocated far-right positions to curry favor for a job. The White House is telling senators that Alito didn’t mean all those things he wrote about disregarding privacy rights and overturning Roe v. Wade—another big lie. No wonder this year’s list was so easy to put together.