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Where's the truth in the show?



The Tampa Bay Times' Eric Deggans on Gwen Ifill's Friday stop in St. Pete:

Welcomed with a blast of music as organist Paul Dixon played the show's theme, Ifill was a warm and charismatic presence — even when a set of technical glitches delayed parts of the show.

Once the conversation started, Ifill questioned her panel on everything from Florida's importance in the coming election to the fruitless effort by Republican leaders to push Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin out of his race after his comments on "legitimate rape."

It was kind of interesting to sit there in the Palladium, lovely as always, and watch what Ifill called the "sausage-making" of TV, what with the lights, the cameras and the prompted clapping. But the most interesting thing, at least to me, was the audible frustration and disappointment in some of the audience members' questions about all the attack ads that are (1) just nasty and base and (2) often untrue. One of them asked: Do they even WORK? To which Amy Walter of ABC News responded with the obvious answer: "Yes. Yes."

So: "What can be done about the lack of consequences for political lies?" another woman asked.

Other than ... nothing? "Ultimatley," Walter said, "it comes down to you as a voter to get as educated as you can."

Rebecca L. Johnson of New Port Richey has the right idea:

I do as the letter writer does with my sample ballot: I read as much as I can and mark it in the comfort of my home. I continue to gather information right up to Election Day and then take my sample ballot to the polling place.

My reason for going to the polls on Election Day is that information on the character and positions of the candidates continues to emerge right up to that day. If I vote early enough to get my ballot mailed in time to be counted, I miss several days or more of important information about the candidates.

We need an informed electorate. The earlier the vote, the less information the voter has.

There's a word for this. Citizenship.

It's work. Has been forever. But it's more work now. So much talk in this RNC run-up about the show, the stage, the message, the story, and what ran through my mind during the proceedings at the Palladium was this admittedly alarmist phrase: death of truth. It's not exactly right. The truth exists. It always will exist. But maybe it's not utterly unreasonable to ask: At this point does the truth even ... matter? Or does it matter as much as it used to? Did you see this phrase in Alex Leary's story in this morning's Times? Mindful of the optics of partying during a storm. Mindful of the optics. How things look over how things are. Anyway, the ads are lies, and part of me wants to say to the very earnest, very well-meaning askers of these questions: OF COURSE THEY'RE LIES. THEY'RE ADS. But still. The ads are lies, or some of them are, and they just keep running, and they just keep running because people just keep watching. The TV's always on.

[Last modified: Saturday, August 25, 2012 10:01am]


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