News & Politics  
comments_image Comments

16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe -- And the Right-Wing Lies Behind Them

We’ve gone beyond Stephen Colbert's' truthiness' into a 'truth-be-damned' environment.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share
 
 
 

“...by a two-to-one margin likely voters thought their taxes had gone up, when, for almost all of them, they had actually gone down. Republican politicians, and conservative commentators, told them Barack Obama was a tax-mad lunatic. They lied. The mainstream media did not do their job and correct them. The White House was too polite—"civil," just like Obama promised—to say much. So people believed the lie.”

We’ve entered a bizzarro world in which calling out lies is considered rude, says Perlstein, so liars are allowed to sit tight and dominate the discourse. This gels with Bill Maher’s critique of the Rally for Sanity, that calling for “balance for balance’s sake” ignores two important aspects of news reporting: facts and evidence.

Blaming Americans for being ignorant unwashed masses--or taking potshots at an education system that doesn’t teach critical thinking-- would be the easy answer to this conundrum. 

But the reality is that if messaging has such a big effect on Americans, then messaging matters. Folks on our end have to counter the lies with well-told, unabashed unironic, truth-telling. And we have to demand that our media, and our politicians, call out the other side. As Perlstein notes, “When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes 'uncivil' to call out liars, lying becomes free.”

Even worse, once lies begin to spread, they become more than rumors--they become permanent beliefs.

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at Alternet, an RH Reality Check staff writer and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work can be found at www.sarahmseltzer.com.

 
See more stories tagged with: