aNewDomain commentary — Ted Cruz seems to have been watching the Trump and Carson campaigns. He’s observed that the more these gentlemen make false statements, the more attention they get. And the more outrageous the statement, apparently the better.
That’s my best guess for why. Cruz has started to sling around some well-documented untruths of his own.
It would be nice if we could call baseless his claims that most violent criminals are Democrats … but we can’t. There is a basis for this accusation.
Which doesn’t at all mean it isn’t bullshit.
The political right in fact has blog mills where they crank out Internet memes and blogs and misleading statements that can later be cited (vaguely) in “news” stories.
“Merchants of Doubt” calls out some of this trolling, which even includes exactly reproducing climate reports but with opposite conclusions, for the expressed purpose of misleading congressional voters.
This misinformation makes it as far as the regular nightly news, with Brian Williams reading off bits about “climategate,” a fake controversy put together by corporate activists to make it seem that climate science is hoaxing us.
Such trickery doesn’t just stay in the climate arena but crosses into race reporting (such as blogs claiming that the PP attacker reporting represents a war on white Christian men, claims that the Congressional Black Congress is racist, long, tortured claims about our President’s ancestry, religion and political affiliations. And a thousand other things meant to rile up the base).
I accidentally watched Fox News today. Why the police station has Fox News playing in the lobby is another story, and another set of questions. Like, what about some semblance of political neutrality? Or, how about, in a climate of racialized policing, maybe the station that paints Black Lives Matter as the bad guys isn’t the thing to have on.
Anyway, it was on mute, which is the only reason I didn’t pierce my eardrums with something sharp on the spot. So I didn’t catch the names of all the pundits.
But The Washington Post did some fact-checking on this and found that the actual study Cruz seemed to be referencing was limited in scope, that red versus blue states had different patterns of voter registration, that subsequent studies found no pattern in post-release voter registration, that the samples included both violent and non-violent offenders, and that a pervasively racist criminal justice system incarcerates more black than white people – with black people voting Democrat more often than Republican.
The upshot was this: One of the pundits said, “Trust The Washington Post to racialize the issue.”
This is Conservative media: Misdirection, away from the facts of the matter, towards spurious, sophist and false conclusions.
But there’s more going on here than one mis-cited study. The Conservative blogosphere, again, engages in active misinformation.
One such site is PatriotUpdate.com. Patriot Update here makes a claim that mass killers are always Democrats. The claim is line-by-line completely false. But people who are very political don’t dissect news stories for truth, and they choose to believe the ones that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs.
The author of this blog (Jay Taylor) is up-front about being a Republican lobbyist and part of a Conservative think-tank, though.
Which is all to say this: When Cruz and other such politicians make these claims, they aren’t making them up on the spot. They’re orchestrated, mulled carefully to match the naivety of certain voting blocs, and based on prior claims that can withstand only the most modest of scrutiny.
Do Republicans lie more than Democrats? An evaluation of Politifact rankings seems to suggest yes.
There are some lying democrats but most of the lyingest politicians evaluated are red, and most of the most truthful are blue. Here is a ranking of presidential candidates in this respect– and here is one of the most important affiliated people.We like to think that politics is a choice between the least of two evils, that Dems and the GOP are equally liars, crooks and villains.
But this is objectively not the case.
Certainly one can find cases of Democrats who troll their opponents.
But the media is rife with Republican crookery. This is the party that stays in power by suppressing the black vote, that claims climate change is a hoax, that thinks holding cops accountable for shooting unarmed black men represents a war on police. This is the party who tells black voters their white candidate is black and letter-bombs neighborhoods with incorrect voting days.
As covered in a number of previous articles, holding on to hard right planks requires ignoring a lot of facts. Tax cuts for the wealthy do not produce job growth, for example, and the Bible isn’t literally true.
We can test these claims with some measure of objectivity. Sure, Politifact isn’t perfect – but this is not a small effect size we’re looking at.
No, Democrats and Republicans are not just as bad as one another.
I’d like to offer you this principle to think by: Whenever an article seems to confirm your biases, that’s exactly the time to be the most skeptical.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.