Hurley unfair, and wrong

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To the editor:

It is normal for propagandists, but not for journalists, to cry, “Shoot the messenger,” when they don’t like the news [“Liberal media attempting to select Republican presidential nominee” – Harry Hurley, Dec. 8].

The “liberal media” are no more responsible for the current state of the Republican presidential campaign than a rooster's crowing is responsible for the sunrise.

Mr. Hurley says the Republican candidates have been “savaged” by a “countless number of debates” “dominated by” the “Democratic media outlets.” But his list of sponsoring organizations shows that Republican or Republican-linked sponsors, such as Fox News, the Heritage Foundation, the Michigan Republican Party, etc., etc., outnumber the “liberal” sponsors (there are no formally “Democratic” sponsors) by at least two to one. And if candidates don’t like the forum, or the sponsor, they are certainly free not to attend, as most apparently have done with Donald Trump’s trumped up debate.

In fact, by far most of the “savaging” has been done by Republicans themselves, in reaction to a flood of untrue and just plain silly statements made by the Republican candidates themselves. To give just one example, Mr. Hurley says the liberal media “made instant Texas toast” of Herman Cain. But Mr. Cain’s campaign was brought low by his problems with accusations of sexual misconduct and his hugely embarrassing inability to answer the simple question, “So you agreed with President Obama on Libya, or not?” It was Karl Rove – not exactly a bastion of the liberal media – who summed things up by saying Mr. Cain is “not up to the task.”

One of the main reasons that the Republican campaign is where it is, is because the candidates keep saying things that aren’t true, like Michelle Bachmann saying the HPV vaccine can cause “mental retardation,” or Rick Perry misstating the voting age, and the date of the election, and the number of Supreme Court justices – and so many other things.

But then Mr. Hurley does much the same thing.

Example: He says, “Obama declared that terrorists would be read their Miranda rights immediately upon capture. That’s plain dumb.”

It’s also plain wrong. Obama has repeatedly rejected the idea that terrorists captured on the battlefield have Miranda rights, and there has been absolutely no change in U.S. policy on this since the Bush Administration.

Example: Mr. Hurley says, “Unemployment during the past three years is actually higher than during the Great Depression when Obama’s fuzzy math for reporting jobless figures is honestly calculated. Obama has created a magic trick called the ‘discouraged worker.’ It’s easy to qualify for. All you have to do is be out of work and just stop looking for a job. Then Obama simply erases you from the report.”

The only problem is: None of that is true. In the first place, “discouraged workers” and “underemployed workers” have been excluded from official U.S. unemployment statistics for decades. Obama had absolutely nothing to do with how the Labor Department calculates the statistics. In the second place, the official unemployment rate now is 8.6 percent. When you include the “underemployed” and “discouraged” workers – what economists call the “U-6” rate – total current unemployment is 15.6 percent. In 1932, 25 percent of all American workers and 37 percent of all nonfarm workers were unemployed. Nobody would argue that current unemployment is low enough, but the political debate is not advanced by people who make up numbers.

Republicans have also gotten some heat for saying things that are silly, like Newt Gingrich saying he committed adultery – on numerous occasions with different women – because of "how passionately I felt about this country.”

Then there are things that are crazily unfair:

Mr. Hurley says President Obama should have been criticized more by the “liberal media” for playing 88 rounds of golf since his inauguration. But a whole bunch of newspapers and TV news programs have looked at presidential vacations. As of August 2011, President Obama had taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At the same point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days on vacation, and Ronald Reagan had taken 112.

There’s much more in Mr. Hurley’s piece like the above, but I’m sure dispassionate readers get the point.


George Lesser

Cape May

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