Edison Lee coincides with something I was thinking about just yesterday, because our public radio station has been airing a series of interviews with political candidates, and pre-primary candidates are sometimes, well, a little unpolished.
Which is to say, it's rare that you get a Sarah Palin on the actual ticket, someone who will say goofy, counterfactual stuff, but it happens all the time before the voters have weeded them out. (Bearing in mind that Palin didn't have to survive primaries to get on the ticket.)
I wish one of our esteemed candidates would declare a Martian invasion, because I'd like to see how NHPR handles it. And I say that with respect, because I consider fact-checking candidates a real issue.
Specifically, we had one congressional candidate who, in the course of her NHPR interview, promised to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on the basis that, in New Hampshire, it has cut out most hospitals and has offered people no choice of carriers.
Which was true the first year but, as we approach the next enrollment period, is no longer the fact.
Then, in yesterday's interview, the candidate promised to fix the immigration issue, because, he said, our current policy is that a person from Nicaragua can simply say their homeland is poor and will be allowed to come in and stay here.
Which, no matter how much you allow for expected, permissable oversimplification and spin, simply isn't the case.
I don't like to see misstatements of basic, readily-checkable facts go unchallenged, but, at the same time, I don't like to see interviews turned into debates either.
David Gregory, recently deposed moderator of Meet The Press, has a confrontational style I find unacceptable, as does George Stephanopoulos.
But it may be that much of the problem there is on the other side of the table: That their guests are all just reciting canned talking points instead of engaging in real conversation.
Fareed Zakaria will challenge a statement, politely but firmly, and it seems to work, but maybe what works is that he books people onto his show who actually come there to talk to him, and so are willing to respond with a thoughtful explanation rather than simply spinning their scripts.
In any case, when a fact is beyond reasonable dispute, I think it would be fair to ask, "But with the changes in the ACA in New Hampshire, all hospitals are now included and many more companies are in the mix. Does that change your position?" or "The proposed amnesty only applies to those who came here prior to 2007. How do you feel about the policy for recent immigrants?"
As I said, it's a very real issue. Journalists should not be passive conduits for errant twaddle, but neither should they turn every interview into a debate.
For which reason Candy Crowley was perfectly correct to interject a fact-check into the presidential debate, despite the howls from Republicans.
It wasn't a matter of her being "biased" towards anything more than keeping to the facts: Despite Romney's assertion, Obama had called the attack on the Benghazi consulate an act of terrorism within 24 hours, not 14 days later, and it doesn't impugn anyone's neutrality to point that out when it's simply a matter of checking the transcripts.
For all the good it did.
I heard the "14 days" claim presented as fact again this week.
I don't know how dangerous it is for a candidate to pin his hopes on the votes of fact-resistant screwballs, but I know how dangerous it is for the country.
Then there's this: One principle of editing is that, in correcting an error, you should simply state the correct fact -- "John Smith was misidentified in yesterday's report. He is the company's president." -- without repeating the mistake, because studies show that people get confused and will walk away "remembering" the error as fact.
People still trot out that 14-days non-fact, but, so far, I haven't heard anybody repeat Romney's assertion -- unchallenged by that debate's moderator, Bob Schieffer -- that Syria and Iran share a common border.
Today's Luann got a big laugh. Rosa and Gunther are taking a gap year to go to Peru and work in a health clinic, and this isn't what they had in mind.
We can excuse Gunther on the basis of his being traditionally clueless, but apparently even the more steady and well-versed Rosa had a romantic, one might even say "stereotypical," idea of what her parents' homeland was like.
Yes, I'm sure there are backcountry clinics. But, if you want to work at one, you should ask.
Where reality never intrudes
Dear little Agnes lives in a world of her own, which is, I suppose, the only way she can cope with the drab, unpromising world she's actually been given.
A brilliant, unsung strip and today's put me on the floor.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Red and Rover takes place in a vaguely defined nostalgic past that somewhat matches my own, and I remember knowing that country kids in books went barefoot, but it never quite worked for me.
And Homer's Adirondack paintings were pretty nostalgia-based, too, for that matter.
On the other hand, the whole flip-flop thing for modern girls -- including ones of a somewhat advanced age -- is out of control.
Workplace safety aside, I'm thinking that the whole "Dress For Success" thing is pretty much dead, right?
Ah well, it was probably just a tool of the patriarchy or something anyway.
Now here's a little something for the old folks:
(Yeah, that looks like the mashed potatoes to me, too. Heard Carole King one time talk about how they'd write a song about a dance -- in her case, "the Locomotion" -- and then have to come up with an actual dance that somehow followed the instructions in the lyrics. This one is mercifully non-specific, once you've got your shoes off.)