Home Media NY Times Asks: Should They Tell Readers When Politicians are Blatantly Lying?

NY Times Asks: Should They Tell Readers When Politicians are Blatantly Lying?


So, the New York Times’ public editor is asking – seriously, this is not an Onion parody – “whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.” Again, this is not meant as a joke; he’s really asking the question.  Let me help you, Mr. Brisbane.


Was that a clear enough answer? No? OK, then, here are a few examples to illustrate.

1. A politician, almost certainly a Republican’t, claims that there’s no scientific consensus on global warming (oh yes there is, big time!), or that there’s some big conspiracy/scandal about a few random emails climate scientists sent (oh no there isn’t!), or whatever other crazy/idiotic/ignorant/fallacious comment the Republican’t politician made. In the article, you quote the Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “of course, as everyone knows, THAT IS NOT TRUE, in fact it is a OUTRIGHT LIE.” Got it?

2. Another politician, against almost certainly a Republican’t, claims that “Obamacare” (not its real name, which should also be pointed out as a lie) increases the deficit.  In the article, you quote the lying Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “of course, as the non-partisan CBO says, THAT IS NOT TRUE, in fact it is an OUTRIGHT LIE.” Got it?

3. Yet another politician, amazingly yet again a Republican’t (sensing a pattern here?), claims that up is down, black is white, hot is cold, Obama’s a Kenyan anti-colonialist, Democrats are really socialists, there’s no such thing as evolution, the recession didn’t start under President Bush, blah blah blah. Again, in the article, you quote the crazy/lying liar Republican’t, then immediately say something like, “yes, these people are utterly nuts, factually challenged, pathological liars, etc.”  Got it?

Then, the media might actually start to regain a bit of the credibility it’s utterly lost in recent years, by its constant perpetuation of an absurd and false “balance” between “both sides” of any “argument” (e.g., one side says the earth is flat, the other says it’s round). But will they do that?  I mean, reporting the facts and letting readers know when someone’s telling a lie is just so hard, it would require reporters and editors to get off their fat behinds and actually do what they are getting paid good money to do. What a concept, huh?

  • kindler

    …until I followed the link, expecting a nuanced, thoughtful piece. Uh, no — you’re right, the dude really is asking whether the media should report facts or just, y’know, type up what people say.  Without a whiff of irony.

    This really says a lot about the social and political challenges we face, and why the Republican party has fully succumbed to a takeover by the ignorant and delusional. People don’t know what truth is because nobody has the guts to tell them anymore.

    And then you have Democrats who come up with “solutions” in response like not talking about climate change, so as to not upset the liars on the matter and all the people they’ve duped.  Truth ends up dumped on the side of the road like the victim of a mafia hit. Oy.

  • The Richmonder

    Of course responsible journalists should call out falsehoods.

    But remember Politifail’s “Lie of the Year,” or as Yoda said: “remember your failure in the cave!”

    The Mainstream Media has a long track record of not only not telling the truth, but of knowingly spreading disinformation.

  • AndySchmooklerforCongress

    That a “serious” journalist would think it necessary to ask that question speaks volumes.

  • Progressive86

    it’s a matter of integrity, integrity that a strong republic needs. As soon as the sheep begin to lay down with the lions, its only a matter of time before one consumes the other (good metaphor?).

  • Teddy Goodson

    the NYT or any newspaper actually follows your recommendations (i.e., pointing out the lies, backed up with documented facts), I predict it will have no, repeat no effect whatsoever on the third of the population which has been brainwashed by Fox News and their hirelings. Why? Because they have already been innoculated against the “liberal” media, and nothing will make them believe what contradicts their authoritarian-based acceptance of the Republican lies…. any such effort at Truth will be summarily dismissed, more evidence of the “liberal” bias of the media.

    That does not, of course, mean that the journalists should not reform their reporting to include pointing out the lies.