This woman, Stolberg seems to never have anything good to say. She has been pencil-whipped before by other writers who have found her out. As one writer stated, “In our lexicon, her “political memo” represents an especially noxious example of journalistic “stupidism.””
STUPIDISM V. SILLY-BILLISM: Sheryl Gay Stolberg is a very bad person, as she makes clear again, today.
She is still quibbling that Obama wasn’t born in Kenya – well, why doesn’t she prove that he wasn’t? His Grandmaw said he was – so who would you believe – a person who was awarded the LIAR OF THE YEAR, 2015?
Tell her to try to open that can of worms that Obama paid one million bucks to hide which will tell the real story – since she is talking about lying Obama. Obama was the worst liar in the history of America and even won “the biggest liar in 2015 award.”
Many Politicians Lie. But Trump Has Elevated the Art of Fabrication.
7 / 25
The New York Times
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
President Trump departing for a vacation on Thursday. The sheer magnitude of his falsehoods and exaggerations is giving political historians pause. Al Drago for The New York Times President Trump departing for a vacation on Thursday. The sheer magnitude of his falsehoods and exaggerations is giving political historians pause.
WASHINGTON — Whit Ayres, a Republican political consultant here, likes to tell his clients that there are “three keys to credibility.”
“One, never defend the indefensible,” he says. “Two, never deny the undeniable. And No. 3 is: Never lie.”
Would that politicians took his advice.
Fabrications have long been a part of American politics. Politicians lie to puff themselves up, to burnish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds, including sexual affairs. (See: Bill Clinton.) Sometimes they cite false information for what they believe are justifiable policy reasons. (See: Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam.)
But President Trump, historians and consultants in both political parties agree, appears to have taken what the writer Hannah Arendt once called “the conflict between truth and politics” to an entirely new level.
From his days peddling the false notion that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to his inflated claims about how many people attended his inaugural, to his description just last week of receiving two phone calls — one from the president of Mexico and another from the head of the Boy Scouts — that never happened, Mr. Trump is trafficking in hyperbole, distortion and fabrication on practically a daily basis.
In part, this represents yet another way that Mr. Trump is operating on his own terms, but it also reflects a broader decline in standards of truth for political discourse. A look at politicians over the past half-century makes it clear that lying in office did not begin with Donald J. Trump. Still, the scope of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods raises questions about whether the brakes on straying from the truth and the consequences for politicians’ being caught saying things that just are not true have diminished over time.
One of the first modern presidents to wrestle publicly with a lie was Dwight D. Eisenhower in May 1960, when an American U-2 spy plane was shot down while in Soviet airspace.
The Eisenhower administration lied to the public about the plane and its mission, claiming it was a weather aircraft. But when the Soviets announced that the pilot had been captured alive, Eisenhower reluctantly acknowledged that the plane had been on an intelligence mission — an admission that shook him badly, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said.
“He just felt that his credibility was such an important part of his person and character, and to have that undermined by having to tell a lie was one of the deepest regrets of his presidency,” Ms. Goodwin said.
In the short run, Eisenhower was hurt; a summit meeting with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev collapsed in acrimony. But the public eventually forgave him, Ms. Goodwin said, because he owned up to his mistake.
In 1972, at the height of the Watergate scandal, President Richard M. Nixon was accused of lying, obstructing justice and misusing the Internal Revenue Service, among other agencies, and resigned rather than face impeachment. Voters, accustomed to being able to trust politicians, were disgusted. In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the presidency after telling the public, “I’ll never lie to you.”
President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction in trying to cover up his affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, during legal proceedings. Chris Lehane, a former Clinton adviser, said Mr. Clinton’s second-term agenda suffered during his impeachment, yet paradoxically his favorability ratings remained high — in part, Mr. Lehane said, because “the public distinguished between Clinton the private person and the public person.”
But sometimes it’s easier to tell what’s false than what’s a lie. President George W. Bush faced accusations that he and members of his administration took America to war in Iraq based on false intelligence about whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush and his team emphasized and in some cases exaggerated elements of the intelligence that bolstered the case while disregarding dissenting information, leading critics to accuse them of lying. Among those who said Mr. Bush had lied was Mr. Trump.
Over the past two decades, institutional changes in American politics have made it easier for politicians to lie. The proliferation of television political talk shows and the rise of the internet have created a fragmented media environment. With no widely acknowledged media gatekeeper, politicians have an easier time distorting the truth.
And in an era of hyper-partisanship, where politicians often are trying to court voters at the extreme ends of the political spectrum, politicians often lie with impunity. Even the use of the word “lie” in politics has changed.
“There was a time not long ago when you could not use the word ‘lie’ in a campaign,” said Anita Dunn, once a communications director to Mr. Obama. “It was thought to be too harsh, and it would backfire. So you had to say they hadn’t been honest, or they didn’t tell the truth, or the facts show something else, and even that was seen as hot rhetoric.”
With the rise of fact-checking websites, politicians are held accountable for their words. In 2013, the website PolitiFact declared that Mr. Obama had uttered the “lie of the year” when he told Americans that if they liked their health care plan they could keep it. (Mr. Trump won “lie of the year” in 2015.)
“I thought it was unfair at the time, and I still think it’s unfair,” Ms. Dunn said, referring to Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama later apologized to people who were forced off their plans “despite assurances from me.”
On the theory that politicians who get caught in lies put their reputations at risk, Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College (and contributor to The New York Times’s Upshot) and some colleagues tried to study the effects of Mr. Trump’s misstatements during last year’s presidential campaign.
In a controlled experiment, researchers showed a group of voters a misleading claim by Mr. Trump, while another group saw that claim accompanied by “corrective information” that directly contradicted what Mr. Trump had said. The group that viewed the corrections believed the new information, but seeing it did not change how they viewed Mr. Trump.
“We know politicians are risk averse. They try to minimize negative coverage, and that negative coverage could damage their image over time,” Mr. Nyhan said. “But the reputational consequences of making false claims aren’t strong enough. They’re not sufficiently strong to dissuade people from misleading the public.”
Of course, lying to court voters is one thing, and lying to federal prosecutors quite another. When Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, was accused of a long list of federal corruption counts related to claims that he tried to sell Mr. Obama’s seat in the United States Senate, he was asked quite directly about lying.
While Mr. Blagojevich was testifying under oath, a prosecutor pressed him on whether he made a habit, as a politician, of lying to the public. They sparred over whether Mr. Blagojevich had fed a misleading story to a local newspaper.
“That was a lie,” the prosecutor, Reid Schar, was quoted as saying.
Mr. Blagojevich refused to fess up. “That was a misdirection play in politics,” he answered.
He was sentenced to a 14-year prison term in 2011.
Joel Sawyer, a Republican strategist in South Carolina, said there were two ways for a politician to deal with deceit.
“One is to never acknowledge it, which seems to have been employed pretty successfully by our current president,” Mr. Sawyer said. “The second is to rip the Band-Aid off and say: ‘I screwed up; here’s why. Give me another chance, and I won’t disappoint you again.’”
Mr. Sawyer worked for a politician — Mark Sanford, then the governor of South Carolina — who took the latter approach. On a June weekend in 2009, Mr. Sanford slipped out of the South Carolina capitol and flew to Buenos Aires to be with his lover, but told his staff that he had gone hiking on the Appalachian Trail. His aides, including Mr. Sawyer, unknowingly passed the lie on to reporters.
Mr. Sanford later apologized profusely. Voters eventually rewarded him; today he serves in Congress.
Many of Mr. Trump’s lies — like the time he boasted that he had made the “all-time record in the history of Time Magazine” for being on its cover so often — are somewhat trivial, and “basically about him polishing his ego,” said John Weaver, a prominent Republican strategist.
That mystifies Bob Ney, a Republican former congressman who spent time in prison for accepting illegal gifts from a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, and lying to federal investigators about it. “It really baffles me why he has to feel compelled to exaggerate to exonerate himself,” Mr. Ney said.
But other presidential lies, like Mr. Trump’s false claim that millions of undocumented immigrants had cast ballots for his opponent in the 2016 election, are far more substantive, and pose a threat, scholars say, that his administration will build policies around them.
The glaring difference between Mr. Trump and his predecessors is the sheer magnitude of falsehoods and exaggerations; PolitiFact rates just 20 percent of the statements it reviewed as true, and a total of 69 percent either mostly false, false or “Pants on Fire.” That leaves scholars like Ms. Goodwin to wonder whether Mr. Trump, in elevating the art of political fabrication, has forever changed what Americans are willing to tolerate from their leaders.
“What’s different today and what’s scarier today is these lies are pointed out, and there’s evidence that they’re wrong,” she said. “And yet because of the attacks on the media, there are a percentage of people in the country who are willing to say, ‘Maybe he is telling the truth.’”
Yes, you, my dear, are the fabrication.
STUPIDISM V. SILLY-BILLISM: Sheryl Gay Stolberg is a very bad person, as she makes clear today:
WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2011
Coming across as a fraud: It helps when you have a good candidate! Smiling broadly and speaking clear regional English, Kathy Hochul came across as a superb political figure in her victory speech last night. As county clerk of Erie County, Hochul is an experienced public figure, of course—but beyond that, she seems familiar with life out in the real world.
Hochul came across as a superb public figure. We only wish we could say the same for Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), who appeared on last night’s Ed Show to celebrate Hochul’s victory. Schultz kept the goose-stepping to a minimum—but Israel offered pure twaddle:
ISRAEL (5/24/11): This is not just a win for Democrats and it is not just a win for Kathy Hochul, who will be an extraordinary and independent member of Congress. It is a win for Medicare. And it is a very serious warning sign for Republicans who would continue this reckless scheme to terminate Medicare in order to fund those tax cuts for big oil companies.
I think tonight proves to Democrats and Republicans throughout the entire country that we have better priorities. We don’t need to reduce Medicare, we need to reduce the tax subsidies to the big oil companies. That’s the choice that we presented to the American people and the voters of New York’s 26th district agree with our choice and our priorities.
That highlighted statement is pure perfect garbage. Do we need to “reduce Medicare” in some way? You’ll have to speak to some actual experts. (That would not include Digby.) But if we get rid of those “tax subsidies to the big oil companies,” it will reduce future deficits by $21 billion total, over the next ten years. The current deficit, just for this year, is around $1.5 trillion.
A trillion is quite a bit more than a billion; you can check with your local math teacher. Nor does anyone need to “terminate Medicare” to fund those tax cuts for the big oil companies. Are we really that dumb?
To our eye and ear, Hochul came across as a superb public figure. Israel came across a fraud.
Special report: Any given Sunday!
Part 2—STUPIDISM V. SILLY-BILLISM (permalink): Sheryl Gay Stolberg is a very bad person. This morning, she puts the culture of American political “journalism” on vivid, depressing display.
Stolberg’s piece appears on page one of the New York Times, one of the most famous newspapers in the declining collection of duchies still known as “the United States.” In our lexicon, her “political memo” represents an especially noxious example of journalistic “stupidism.”
Here’s how the nonsense starts:
STOLBERG (5/25/11): All That Glitters May Redefine Run by Gingrich
To the long list of rich-guy foibles that turned into defining campaign moments—John Edwards’s $400 haircut, John Kerry’s kite-surfing, John McCain’s inability to remember how many homes he owns—let us now add Newt Gingrich’s using $500,000 revolving line of credit at the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Company.
Like the hapless Bob Schieffer before her, Stolberg has a large cow today over one of the candidates’ jewels. In her noxious opening paragraph, she recalls other recent cases where the culture of stupidism helped “redefine” a White House campaign.
Example: During Campaign 2004, Candidate Kerry dared to go wind-surfing—and someone even took his picture! In response, hapless boobs like Stolberg told us what this troubling conduct showed us about Kerry’s character. Four years earlier, this same collection of half-witted mutants lectured the world about Candidate Gore’s buttons and boots—and about his polo shirts, and about the fact that he wore a brown suit when he debated Candidate Bradley!
In each case, Candidate Bush ended up in the White House.
This morning, the stupidists are at it again through the labors of Stolberg. In fairness: As she pushes that cow out into the world, she does at least acknowledge her agency:
Let “us” add Gingrich’s line to the list, this high-ranking stupidist says.
Having explained who’s creating the list, Stolberg continues her stupidist narrative, crafting a prime example of the way this cult’s adepts “reason.” Note the slippery, nuanced way Stolberg discusses the voters:
STOLBERG (continuing directly): The way Mr. Gingrich sees it, as he said on ”Face the Nation” on Sunday, he’s ”a guy running for president who pays all of his bills,” who lives within his budget and who is in fact ”very frugal.”
The way some voters out in the rest of America might see it, he’s a guy who paid more for jewelry than some people pay for their houses.
Wow! According to Stolberg’s reporting, voters see Gingrich as a guy who paid more for jewelry than people pay for their houses! Well, not exactly: According to Stolberg, some voters see Gingrich that way; well actually, some voters might do so. (More precisely, this undisclosed number of voters might see Gingrich as a person who paid more for his jewels than some people pay for their houses.) Of course, some voters might see Gingrich as the second coming of the Buddha. We’ll assume that Stolberg won’t waste our time thrashing that “story line” (to use her own chosen term).
Simple story: Stolberg’s piece is part of a post-journalistic culture which took full form during Campaign 2000: A culture in which “journalists” seize upon some trivial matter to drive pre-existing tales about character. Often, the “facts” about these trivial matters will be fudged, invented or redefined to drive the pre-existing tale. Let’s get clear on the stupid way Stolberg does that today.
In her opening paragraph, Stolberg tells us that Gingrich used a “$500,000 revolving line of credit at the luxury jeweler Tiffany.” Like you, we have no real idea what that actually means—but so what? Stolberg quickly tells us how “some” voters “might” see this troubling matter.
Gingrich used a revolving line of credit! In a true journalistic culture, the journalist wasting her time on this matter would try to explain what that murky phrase means. Not Stolberg! This is the best she does at explaining this basic point, in two separate stupid passages:
(And who cares, if he wanted his wife to have fine jewelry? Stolberg does! In fact, it rubbed her the wrong way so much that she is ragging about it – jealous woman.)
STOLBERG (continuing directly): It has been a week since Politico broke the news that while working for the House Agriculture Committee, Mr. Gingrich’s wife, Callista, filed forms for 2005 and 2006 disclosing her husband’s ”revolving charge” of $250,001 to $500,000 with Tiffany. Mr. Gingrich, insisting his jewelry buying habits are his own business, has declined to say what he bought.
On CBS News’s ”Face the Nation,” Mr. Gingrich called the credit line a ”standard, no-interest account.”
The Tiffany spokesman, Carson Glover, said the company offers customers a ”revolving credit card agreement” with state-specific rates; those who hold such cards are eligible for up to 12 months of interest-free borrowing if they spend more than $1,000 on an engagement ring or $5,000 on other merchandise.
Do you know what a “revolving credit card agreement” is? We don’t know either! That said: As best we can tell from that puddle of muddle, Stolberg has no idea how much jewelry Gingrich ever bought, though he did spend more than $1000. In her attempt to explain why this piffle matters, the stupidist soon offers us the highlighted statement, hiss-spitting as she goes:
STOLBERG: But the glittering strand of diamonds that Mrs. Gingrich wore last month to the Washington premiere of the couple’s latest documentary movie looks strikingly like one that Tiffany advertises for $45,000. And Time magazine’s Web site on Tuesday posted a slide show of Mrs. Gingrich wearing various baubles that seemed straight out of the Tiffany catalog, including what looks like a $22,000 pair of diamond and gold starburst earrings ”inspired by electrons orbiting in the nucleus of an atom.”
Tiffany’s or knockoffs? The Gingrich campaign won’t say. But at this point, it no longer matters, according to political strategists of both parties. What matters, they say, is that the Tiffany story is sticking to Mr. Gingrich, helping to define—or perhaps redefine—him in the critical early days of his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
As House speaker, Mr. Gingrich preached the virtues of fiscal conservatism; now he is struggling to explain how spending large sums on jewelry fits in with that philosophy. And while a spokesman for Tiffany confirmed Tuesday that Mr. Gingrich had paid the debt in full, with no interest, parrying questions about a six-figure jewelry bill is hardly what his campaign needs at a time when many Americans are out of work or have lost their homes.
Did Gingrich “spend large sums on jewelry?” Stolberg doesn’t quite know. (She does know what a “knockoff” is, having looked in the mirror each morning.) But assuming that he actually did spend such money, the stupidist is required to show why this discussion is actually relevant. Stolberg pretends to do that in the highlighted passage, in which we’re invited to imagine a troubling contradiction:
Gingrich preaches the virtues of fiscal conservatism—but he spent large sums on jewelry! With respect, might we offer a point? If you see a contradiction there, then you’re too stupid to play this game! The next time political discourse breaks out, please just stay in the house!
No, there isn’t an actual contradiction between fiscal conservatism and buying a necklace. But by law, the stupidists have to pretend that they’ve spotted a troubling problem—and they’ve been building this culture since Campaign 2000, when they kept it up so long that Bush ended up in command.
By the way: Gingrich said amazingly stupid things all week about very important policy matters. Have you seen a front-page report about that? No! By the rules of stupidism, Stolberg must instead finger his jewels! By definition, the stupidist rarely notices, or cares about, the stupid remarks of others.
Stolberg’s very stupid report is matched by Maureen Dowd’s column today; we’ll discuss that stupid pile tomorrow. But Stolberg’s stupidism is only one part of post-journalistic culture. A related culture, “silly-billism,” was on vibrant display in Sunday’s Outlook section.
The Washington Post still carries a reputation as our leading political newspaper, but it has sunk into cosmic dumbness over the past many years. Any given Sunday, you can see this culture of dumbness in full flower in its high-profile Outlook section. In a rational world, this section would be a weekly salon for very smart political discourse. But consider some of the silly-billism found in its pages this week:
Read this lengthy piece, if you can, about a woman who spent a whole year doing everything Oprah told her. (Our remark is not intended as criticism of Oprah.)
Read this piece, in which Chris Cillizza (briefly) discusses the stupid things Gingrich said about policy matters last week. Predictably, Cillizza fails to tell us that he himself, just one week before, hailed the “considerable strengths” of this long-time ninny, citing the fact that Gingrich is “widely regarded as the brightest policy mind in the [Republican] party” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/13/11).
Most punishingly, fight your way through this long piece about the various Republican candidates. The piece was written by a sitcom producer. Accompanied by a massive graphic, it was Outlook’s featured front-page report. It’s silly-bill crap from beginning to end, reflecting an apparent belief that Post readers have low IQs.
If you can read that featured piece all the way through, you win a silly-bill merit badge for completing a long hard slog. For extra credit, scan this piece, about how we should get rid of lawn-blowers.
Let’s establish the difference between these two schools: Stupidism drives a political point. By way of contrast, silly-billism simply wastes everyone’s time with utterly pointless blather. Any given Sunday, these complementary cultures are found all over Outlook.
This Sunday, the Outlook section’s featured piece was a dumb-brick review of Republican hopefuls. In the next two days, we’ll review two additional front-page Outlook efforts—pieces which truly show us the broken soul of American post-journalist culture.
Tomorrow: Good lord—Sissela Bok on James Stewart!
From the looks of things which are attributed to Stolberg, she needs to be writing a comic strip – when will this writer give us an article that has some real news, especially since there is so much to cover.