This Krugman column reminded me of the strange role of lies in politics. With some they just roll along. Everyone knows them but they’re not election issues. Then others become election issues. Read the Krugman column below the fold, but it put me in mind of a very strange interview on the 7.30 report. Kerry O’Brien was interviewing Swan and (I think) he raised the claim that 70 percent of the ALP front bench are former union officials. Swan said that the number included him but he’d never been a union official of any kind. Kerry brushed this off as a minor detail – and indeed Swan accepted this premise and went on defending the ALP against the point – which presumably stood as a revised figure of 67 percent union officials or whatever.
What gives? Since when was a research mistake (at best) then continued as a routine lie in politics something that the media plays along with?
Krugman is beneath the fold.
Postscript: this story is written on a false premise as my comment 12 makes clear. The 70% union officials claim appears to be correct. Krugman’s comments survive. NG
My chance of surviving prostate cancer and thank God I was cured of it in the United States? Eighty-two percent, says Rudy Giuliani in a new radio ad attacking Democratic plans for universal health care. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England? Only 44 percent, under socialized medicine.
It would be a stunning comparison if it were true. But it isnt. And thereby hangs a tale one of scare tactics, of the character of a man who would be president and, Im sorry to say, about whats wrong with political news coverage. … Mr. Giulianis claim is wrong on multiple levels bogus numbers wrapped in an invalid comparison embedded in a smear.
Mr. Giuliani got his numbers from a recent article in City Journal, a publication of the conservative Manhattan Institute. The author gave no source for his numbers… And theyre just wrong.
You see, the actual survival rate in Britain is 74.4 percent. That still looks a bit lower than the U.S. rate, but the difference turns out to be mainly a statistical illusion. The … chance of dying from prostate cancer is about the same in Britain as it is in America. So Mr. Giulianis supposed killer statistic about the defects of socialized medicine is entirely false…
Anyway, comparisons with Britain have absolutely nothing to do with what the Democrats are proposing. In Britain, doctors are government employees; despite what Mr. Giuliani is suggesting, none of the Democratic candidates have proposed to make American doctors work for the government.
As a fact-check in The Washington Post put it: The Clinton health care plan which is very similar to the Edwards and Obama plans has more in common with the Massachusetts plan signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney than the British National Health system. Of course, this hasnt stopped Mr. Romney from making similar smears…
But heres what I dont understand: Why isnt Mr. Giulianis behavior here considered not just a case of bad policy analysis but a character issue?
For better or (mostly) for worse, political reporting is dominated by the search for the supposedly revealing incident, in which the candidate … reveals his true character. And this incident surely seems to fit the bill.
Leave aside the fact that Mr. Giuliani is simply lying about what the Democrats are proposing; after all, Mitt Romney is doing the same thing.
But health care is the pre-eminent domestic issue for the 2008 election. Surely the American people deserve candidates who do their homework on the subject.
Yet what we actually have is the front-runner for the Republican nomination apparently basing his health-care views on something he read somewhere, which he believed without double-checking because it confirmed his prejudices.
By rights, then, Mr. Giulianis false claims about prostate cancer which he has … continued to repeat, along with some fresh false claims about breast cancer should be a major political scandal. As far as I can tell, however, they arent being treated that way.
To be fair, there has been some news coverage of the prostate affair. But its only a tiny fraction of the coverage received by Hillarys laugh and John Edwardss haircut.
And much of the coverage seems weirdly diffident. Memo to editors: If a candidate says something completely false, its not in dispute. Its not the case that Democrats say theyre not advocating British-style socialized medicine; they arent.
The fact is that the prostate affair is part of a pattern: Mr. Giuliani has a habit of saying things … that are demonstrably untrue. And the American people have a right to know that.
The Rudy campaign has now blithely confirmed that they are going to keep on telling this lie [about health care]. …[C]heck out this little nugget at the end of the piece about Rudy spokesperson Maria Comella’s response to all this:
Asked if Mr. Giuliani would continue to repeat the statistic, and if the advertisement would continue to run, Ms. Comella responded by e-mail: “Yes. We will.”
Memo to media: Rudy and his campaign think you’re a bunch of chumps. … Maybe it’s time to get serious about what this guy is up to….