Wednesday, September 10, 2008

When Misinformation Abounds in Election Coverage, the Real Victims are the Voters

Recently there has been a lot of bullshit being fed to the American public. Campaign ads, misinformed media personalities, random internet rumors, and the like have all clouded the pool of truth in the presidential election. From focusing on lipstick to talking about sex with kindergartners, the election coverage has devolved into a daytime soap opera with shittier acting than the actual afternoon dramas. Just because one person says something that is repeated over and over again, it does not make it true. It may have worked for Iraq, but hopefully we're smarter than that now.

That said, let's look at the claims being made on the campaign trail and the realities of the situation.

CLAIM: Sarah Palin stood up to the "big boys" in Juneau and changed the way that Alaska did business. Notably, she cut the fat off of some bogus Alaskan spending (like putting the state's private jet on eBay) and stood up to corruption and "politics as usual."

REALITY: While Palin may have done some fighting of corruption, her record against "politics as usual" is hardly anything to write home about. As mayor of Wasilla, AK (population: ~8,000) she hired a lobbying firm run by a former staffer of Ted Stevens - yes, THAT Ted Stevens - and got about $27 million. While it is unclear how much of that money went to Wasilla specifically, if you divide the money she got earmarked by her constituency, that's $3,375 per constituent. Additionally, a loophole in Alaska's "per diem" allowance system allowed Palin to bill Alaskan taxpayers while she worked from home for "travel expenses." Also, don't necessarily buy the bit that she sold the jet on eBay: she put it up on eBay, no one bought it, so she sold it cheap (at a $600,000 loss). And then, there's the "Bridge to Nowhere."

CLAIM: Obama supported comprehensive sex education for kindergartners as a state senator in Illinois.

REALITY: Obama voted for a bill that outlined sexual education for grades K-12, with age-appropriate topics. The reason that kindergarten was included was to ensure that the young children knew what kind of touching was appropriate between kids and adults; in other words, it was to make the children aware of pedophiles and child molesters. The McCain ad is downright wrong.

CLAIM: Obama took a backhanded swipe at Sarah Palin when he described McCain's policies as putting "lipstick on a pig."

REALITY: Obama was using an age-old phrase that McCain himself had used to describe Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan. In fact, CBS asked that the ad be pulled from YouTube because it used Katie Couric in it in a "misleading" fashion. Couric is seen discussing sexism in the campaign, but was referring to Senator Hillary Clinton and not Governor Sarah Palin.

CLAIM: As mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin either tried to band books from the local library or was successful in doing so.

REALITY: There is no proof that Palin did such a thing. While there was a time when banning books was discussed between Palin and Wasilla's librarians, it appears it was more of a general line of questioning to better understand the process than to ban individual books.

CLAIM: Obama's attacks on Governor Palin are "completely false" and "misleading" according to, a non-partisan site that corroborates or debunks claims made in political campaigns.

REALITY: Obama never made any of the attacks that FactCheck found to be "completely false" and "misleading." The attacks that the FactCheck article quoted in McCain's ad refer to were found in e-mail chains and random internet postings. In fact, FactCheck itself states that "The McCain-Palin campaign has altered our message in a fashion we consider less than honest."

You can see where I am going with this. This is politics; you really think everyone tells you the truth? My advice is this: don't believe everything you see and do a little research of your own to find out the truth about things. I will overwhelmingly recommend after browsing through it. It's non-partisan, it cites its sources, and it lays everything out very plainly. This is a heated race, and quite honestly, closer than it should be. Like David Eisenbach and Mike Gravel say in their book, if something is repeated in the "media echo chamber" enough, it eventually becomes fact when in reality it is far from the truth. Peace.

Photo - Obama and McCain (

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