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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

Last night I moderated a California Progressive Caucus-sponsored panel of experts discussing withdrawal from Iraq, and why it should happen much sooner than later. The word "immediately" was heard often.

What made this meet-up different from the usual call for get-out was that both Democratic and Republican voices were heard. And unlike the blather the pollutes the airwaves, the speakers were armed with facts, not opinions. How refreshing: Reality, not fabrication, and truth, not lies. Exploring evidence rather than disseminating the sort of ignorance that talk radio/TV thrives upon -- and which this administration has joyfully embraced.

What this administration calls "truth" ought to cause Truth to sue for irreparable damages. Like when a federal study and our top general say that the military is stretched beyond its capabilities and a Secretary of Defense -- who admits he hasn't read the study -- says that's not true. Or when the Bush Department of Word-Mangling shifts the rationale for war from finding WMD to finding WMD-related activities. Or when Democrats can't be smeared for taking Abramoff donations (sometimes known as bribes), the burden of guilt widens to include Abramoff client-related donations. Come to think of it, the word "related" should get a kickback from this White House.

We've let the talk show mentality bastardize the truth in a political shakedown of obscene proportions. We've stood by quietly, letting snake oil salesman like Hannity, O'Reilly and Limbaugh poison the debate under the guise of truth-telling; using circuitous arguments that are an insult to anyone with a single brain cell; twisted logic so tortured that the Geneva Conventions would object.

And that's not the worst of it: We've allowed the Right to bully the fourth estate into thinking political balance means that lies must get equal space with the truth. Call it the talk show-ization of the mainstream media.

Under fear of being called biased by the biased Right, the LA Times gives the vicious David Horowitz space on the front page of the Sunday op-ed section. Right wing apologists like Max Boot and Jonah Goldberg spread propaganda on the Times daily opinion pages while condescending blowhards like Dennis Prager and David Gelernter spit out their divisive rants under the pretense of speaking the word of God.

The Today Show brings on Bill O'Reilly to give us intellectual insight into the news. CNN brings on Bob Bennett. Headline News, obviously forgetting the brilliant MSNBC Michael Savage experiment, brings on Glenn "Hate The 9/11 Families" Beck.

The supposed watchdogs for the public, the (excuse me while I wretch) liberal media -- except perhaps for NBC's David Gregory and absolute goddess, Helen Thomas -- have let us down. The rest of the White House press corp sits back while Scott McClellan is allowed to stonewall that "There is a serious investigation going on so we can't comment further." If that's the truth, they'll never be able to comment on anything because everything this White House does needs serious investigation.

Every Sunday morning news talk show anchor poses debunked RNC talking points as if they're legitimate questions, and the guests let such outrages pass unchallenged. Just last week on Meet The Press, Senator Barack Obama fell into the right wing talking point trap by intimating that, re: Abramoff scandal, "The problem of money in politics is bipartisan."

Senator, by conceding that you only gave this Talkization of America credibility. Instead of letting Tim Russert or Brit Hume or George Stephanopolous or, God forbid, even a Hannity, frame some RNC talking point in the context of an acceptable question and just responding it, the answer must begin with a complete dismissal of the question.

"Tim, Brit, George, Seanie, why would you take an already confirmed misrepresentation and hold it up as a legitimate question? Surely your crack research staff could have easily checked this out and found it to be wholly untrue long before you embarrassed yourself by asking it on your show. Next question."

So here's a memo to Dean, Perry, Biden, Obama, Shumer, Durbin, Gore, Clinton, and everyone else: instead of reacting to some fiction that isn't worth valuable network time, call 'em on it. Then turn to the camera or lean into the microphone and tell America the truth.

Steve Young, author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" can be read every Sunday in the LA Daily News Op-Ed page (right next to Bill O'Reilly)

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Albion Monitor   January 29, 2006   (

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