Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The MSM Media's Love Affair with Politicians Who Spew Lies... 31 January '12
There's one industry - just one industry - that's specifically mentioned in the United States Constitution - and that's the press.
That's because the founders knew how important a free, open, and diligent press is to keeping a too-powerful government in check and for a population informed enough to make a democratic vote.
As Thomas Jefferson said:
[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
That's how crucial the press is to our form of government.
That's especially true during an election year - when politicians will throw whatever lie they can at the wall - hoping that a few of them will stick to sway voters.
It's up to the press to make sure that none of those lies stick.
Unfortunately today - the press is dropping the ball.
For example, on Sunday's "State of the Union" morning show on CNN - Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told this whopper of a lie to Candy Crowley:
They've been trying to pretend like the President just showed up yesterday, just got sworn in and started fresh. In fact, he's been in office for three years. He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years
A completely compliant Congress for two of those three years?
Then why is it that Mitch McConnell himself led his Republican minority in the Senate to shatter the record for the most filibusters in one session of Congress, a record that goes all the way back to the George Washington administration?
Obama didn't get everything he wanted from Congress - far from it.
From the very beginning he had to negotiate down his stimulus package - and make a full third of it tax cuts just to get 3 Republicans - Susan Collins - Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter - on board with it.
And when it came to health care - did President Obama REALLY get everything he wanted from Congress?
He didn't get a public option.
And he sure as heck didn't want the Cornhusker kickback that so-called Democratic Senator Ben Nelson demanded - or the Louisiana purchase that so-called Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu asked for in return for her support.
Yet that's exactly what Congress gave him.
He didn't get cap-and-trade energy reform legislation through the Senate - as he wanted - because he couldn't overcome a unanimous Republican filibuster.
He couldn't get the DISCLOSE Act requiring full disclosure of who's spending how much money in our elections post Citizens United - because it too couldn't break a unanimous Republican filibuster.
He couldn't get comprehensive immigration reform - and legislation like the Dream Act, passed - again, thanks to a unanimous McConnell-led Republican filibuster in the Senate.
And he couldn't get legislation through the Senate to end tax breaks for corporations that outsource American jobs - a bill named the Creating American Jobs And Ending Offshoring Act.
All of these bills I just mentioned passed the House - had more than 50 percent of the vote in the Senate - but couldn't break Mitch McConnell's unanimous Republican filibuster which set the bar at 60 percent rather than a simple majority.
And all of these bills would have yielded tremendous benefits for our nation.
They would have put jobless Americans back to work - they would have provided health insurance for 53 million uninsured Americans - they would have put our nation on track toward clean energy - they would have strengthened our democracy - and fixed a broken immigration system.
So what the hell is Mitch McConnell talking about when he says that Congress gave the President everything he wanted in those first two years?
He's lying - it's a complete and utter lie - and it's up to Candy Crowley to call him out on it:
Mitch McConnell: He got everything he wanted from a completely compliant Congress for two of those three years. You don't hear him mention any of that.
So what he's been engaged in since the bus tours began last August is try to convince the American people that somebody else is standing in his way.
Candy Crowley: But doesn't that seem to be working?
Doesn't it seem to be working?!
Are you serious?!
So after McConnell just lied to her face - Crowley takes the bait - accepts the lie - and then asks if President Obama's strategy to re-write history as asserted by McConnell is working.
That's not journalism, it's stenography.
Not challenging the assertion that Congress gave President Obama everything he wanted is like agreeing that President Bush had reliable intelligence that Saddam Hussein was making nukes and chemical weapons.
Both couldn't be farther from the truth - yet both echoed across the airwaves on the mainstream news to the point that most Republicans - and a few Independents and Democrats - believe them to this day.
In defense of Candy Crowley, this is nothing unique to her or her show.
Meet The Press, Face The Nation, every single show on Fox News - you name it, and you'll find Republicans - and occasionally Democrats - flat-out lying to journalism school graduates who don't blink and don't call them on their lies.
And why don't they call out lies? Because they are afraid the big-name politicians will refuse to come on their shows in the future, and those shows are set up in such a way that if they don't get the big names, the show goes down in flames.
It's called "needing access," and it's why networks pressure good journalists to let a few lies slide.
This is why the mainstream media has such a bad reputation today.
They've given up their job that Jefferson envisaged of adversarial, keep-them-honest journalism - and handed the role of fact-checking off to political talking heads who often have no interest in the facts at all - especially during an election year.
And since they've dropped the ball - others have had to pick it up - like Julian Assange at Wikileaks.
He's not an outlaw - he's a journalist who's doing the job that the mainstream media should be doing - speaking truth to power and giving people the facts to make informed decisions.
And there are other independent media outlets doing the same thing - like
Democracy Now! -
Free Speech TV -
Current TV - and independent websites like
Democratic Underground -
Raw Story - and
Alternet - among others.
It's time to turn the "mainstream" TV off - and turn ON those who are reporting news in the same spirit Thomas Jefferson envisioned.
Our democratic republic will be the better as a result.
That's The Big Picture.