On Using Talking Points

Media Matters was just bursting with pride yesterday. The liberal watchdog group had caught Fox News using “GOP talking points” as their own research.

I scanned the piece from top to bottom, looking for a report about inaccuracy in these GOP talking points. Failing to find that, I looked for an insinuation that any of the facts/figures were subject to discredit, controversy, challenge, contention, dispute…anything. Couldn’t find any of that, either.

Nevertheless, that is a little bit on the slimy side. I’m inclined to give MM the point. Although it would be a much better point, more in keeping with the grandstanding headline, if Fox News recycled Republican talking points as fact in the middle of some kind of argument between the two parties. That would be a clear-cut case of deciding-instead-of-reporting. Not the case here.

But what does that then say about the Sacramento Bee’s headlines tonight. The story underneath carries the byline of “Bee News Services” although it matches word-for-word the first paragraph of a Washington Post story, here. But look how this Sacramento Bee editor chose to present it to the world:

Two logjams broken
Leaders in House, Senate OK blueprint for recovery
MEASURE IS UNPRECEDENTED AND ITS IMPACT UNCERTAIN

Yup, they’re talking about the stimulus plan. The trillion-dollars-worth-of-condoms plan.

Okay, I exaggerate, it isn’t $1 trillion worth of condoms. It’s actually a little less than a trillion, and some of the money goes to things with more of a “stimulative” effect than condoms. There’s lots of good stuff…like…the National Endowment for the Arts…TV conversion…global warming…the Department of Education…

Let’s bottom-line it. You gotta be more than just a little bit left-leaning to think of this as a real “blueprint for recovery.” You gotta be out of yer gourd.

I anxiously await the power, profile and gravitas of Media Matters, showing up to join me in my call for the Sacramento Bee to reverse their cranial-rectal inversion process on this one. This is the front page to the major newspaper of a thriving industrial valley, capital city of one of the nation’s largest and most prosperous states. It’s not a children’s fairy-tale book.

And if it’s wrong to put Republican talking points on the airwaves even when they are not subject to dispute, it’s wrong to put democrat talking points on the front page of such a high-profile newspaper — that are.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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