When Do Reporters Start Calling Mitt Romney a Liar?

Two days ago, Barack Obama went before AIPAC (which is commonly known as "the Israel Lobby" but would be better understood as the Likud lobby, since it advocates not Israel's interests per se but the perspective of the right wing of Israeli politics, but that's a topic for another day), and said, among other things, the following:

"I have said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table, and I mean what I say. That includes all elements of American power: A political effort aimed at isolating Iran; a diplomatic effort to sustain our coalition and ensure that the Iranian program is monitored; an economic effort that imposes crippling sanctions; and, yes, a military effort to be prepared for any contingency. Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."

This didn't surprise anyone, because it's the same thing Obama has been saying for a while, in scripted and unscripted remarks alike, in both speeches and interviews. Yet later that day, Mitt Romney went out and said the following:

"This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. He's also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it's unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon."

So here's my question: Just what will it take for reporters to start writing about the question of whether Mitt Romney is, deep within his heart, a liar?

Because he does this kind of thing frequently, very frequently. Sometimes the lies he tells are about himself (often when he's trying to explain away things he has said or done in the past if today they displease his party's base, as he's now doing with his prior support for an individual mandate for health insurance), but most often it's Barack Obama he lies about. And I use the word "lie" very purposefully. There are lots of things Romney says about Obama that are distortions, just plain ridiculous, or unfalsifiable but obviously false, as when he often climbs into Obama's head to tell you what Obama really desires, like turning America into a militarily weak, economically crippled shadow of Europe (not the actual Europe, but Europe as conservatives imagine it to be, which is something like Poland circa 1978). But there are other occasions, like this one, where Romney simply lies, plainly and obviously. In this case, there are only two possibilities for Romney's statement: Either he knew what Obama has said on this topic and decided he'd just lie about it, or he didn't know what Obama has said, but decided he'd just make up something about what Obama said regardless of whether it was true. In either case, he was lying.

The "Who is he, really?" question is one that consumes campaign coverage, but in Romney's case the question has been about phoniness, not dishonesty, and the two are very different things. What that means is that when Romney makes a statement like this one, reporters don't run to their laptops to write stories that begin, "Raising new questions about his candor, today Mitt Romney falsely accused President Obama..." The result is that he gets a pass: there's no punishment for lying, because reporters hear the lie and decide that there are other, more important things to write about.

To get a sense of what it's like when reporters are on the lookout for lies, remember what Al Gore went through in 2000. To take just one story, when Gore jokingly told a union audience that as a baby his parents would rock him to sleep to the strains of "Look for the Union Label," everyone in attendance laughed, but reporters shouted "To the Internet!" and discovered that the song wasn't written until Gore was an adult. They then wrote entire stories about the remark, with those "Raising new questions..." ledes, barely entertaining the possibility that Gore was joking. Why not? Because it was Al Gore, and they all knew he was a liar, so obviously if he said something that wasn't literally true it could only have been an intentional falsehood.

That is not yet the presumption when it comes to Mitt Romney. There's another factor at play as well, which is that reporters, for reasons I've never completely understood, consider it a greater sin to lie about yourself, particularly about your personal life, than to lie about your opponent or about policy (I wrote about the different kinds of lies and how the press treats them differently here). Because Romney is lying about his opponent and about a policy matter, reporters just aren't as interested. But at some point, these things begin to pile up, and they really ought to start asking whether this dishonesty is something fundamental in Romney's character that might be worth exploring.

Comments

But that is the problem; lies, outright verifiable lies are currently the bread and butter of the right wing in our nation. The media has generally been cowed by likes of Fox news and right wing echo-chamber to treat outright lies as "the other side." That is not journalism.

If you state "2 + 2 = 4" and I state "2 + 2 = 7" that is not two sides of an issue, rather it is a verifiable fact and a verifiable lie. But the media does not report it that way. They instead now report it as if both statements have equal validity. Calling out politicians, and others, on the truthfulness of their statements is a cornerstone of a vibrant and free press. But it is one that is alive in only a few progressive media outlets, while the mainstream news agencies have generally abdicated this all important role of vetting for truth.

These sanctimoius hypocrites will get the neocons but they would vote for Hitler if he was running.

That's an easy question:

Reporters will start calling Mitt Romney a liar when they no longer crave access to him.

Now can you imagine any reporter, or that reporter's agency, permitting, let alone encouraging, the reporter to call Mitt Romney a liar?

How fast do you get kicked off the campaign media plane?

Next?

There might be a solution to reporters being effectively blackmailed from the get go this way. But I for one have not figured it out. The important result should be that candidates do not have the right or the privilege of excluding reporters they don't like from covering them.

"Who is he, really?" is, ironically, a lie posed as a question. And the liars are reporters. It consumes (or fills, if you will) a lot more air time and/or column inches to keep speculating about something after more than enough evidence has been presented for even the marginally rational to come to a conclusion.

Romney is a liar. I am not a reporter, but I'm happy to help out.

Now even more important is: When and why does Romney lie? Answer, whenever it suits his purposes. He'd be just as happy to tell the truth if it led to the same result. Unfortunately, it often doesn't. And what is Romney's purpose? To get nominated and then get elected. And what will his agenda be if he is elected? To get re-elected.

Doesn't sound much different from other politicians, does he? Here's the difference: With Romney, there is absolutely, positively, no other agenda. He has no particular interest in what happens while he might be in office, other than that he gets to play President. And not reporting this is another big lie reporters are telling, by not reporting it.

Mitt Romney is not a liar in his heart. His heart is simply there to pump blood. Mitt in fact is perfectly amoral. I don't even believe he believes in Mormonism. Mormonism was simply a fact of his existence he had to deal with, and as the supremely ambitious yet vacuous being he has always been, he put himself in the best position to deal with it.

So, why don't reporters call Mitt a liar? For one, they instantly lose access, and their seat on the media plane. Second, in this case, the truth won't fill enough airtime or column inches to satisfy their employers, because how long can they keep their audience watching ads, or clicking through web pages, with a story like that? Literally, the truth doesn't sell.

When will people become capable of admitting that there is nothing about Mitt Romney that is hidden? He is exactly who and what he appears to be: An amorally ambitious organism whose sole purpose is to advance himself in whatever arena he finds himself. There is nothing else.

Romney is doing nothing that should fool any of you. You are all fooling yourselves? Why? Apparently because a lot of people need something to talk about. The obvious conclusion ends the discussion. Then what do you do?

Well, if you are a good reporter, you realize what the real story is, and you report it. And if you are a moral reporter, and maybe even a good citizen, maybe even patriotic, you keep reporting the story.

Just like it is worth reporting every day that Assad is killing innocent people, in the interests of the people of the United States and our way of life, it is worthwhile reporting every day that Mitt Romney is simply an ambitious liar with no other agenda then to advance himself. It is a worthwhile story that whether he does anything good or bad for the country is incidental to his agenda, which is to get into office, and to stay in office, as long as possible. Sorry, and I mean I am truly sorry, but that is all there is.

As a family member said a few days ago, Romney is not only a constant liar, he was a confirmed bully in school. Things are adding up about this candidate that strongly suggest a negative vote for anything as vital to the nation as the Presidency, which calls above all for statesmanship of the highest order.

Republicans who listen to the Liars in their party are just as bad as the Liars are: after all, what good is it, when otherwise honest people repeat lies from their leaders?

This post is helpful with an analysis I am doing for a specific group of people. Do you have any other articles to suggest on this topic? Thanks
Colorado Springs Doctor

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