Misstating The State Of The Union

misstating.jpg According to a recent Gallup poll, a staggering 42% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Given the 9/11 Commission’s findings to the contrary, it would be fair to say that these 42% of Americans are, well, misinformed. And who can be blamed for it but the media? Newspapers, magazines, and especially TV media seemed so eager to play nice with the administration that they blindly reported President Bush and Vice-President Cheney’s claims that Saddam had links with Al-Qaeda.

In this climate, a book like Misstating the State of The Union becomes a must read. Prepared by the Media Matters Network, it provides a catalog of all the distortions, obfuscations, omissions, or outright lies told by right-wing commentators like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or (my personal favorite) Bill O’Reilly. Among the false claims propounded on fair and balanced news: that Bush inherited a recession (it began after he took office); that he is fiscally conservative (under his leadership, the U.S. went from a $200B surplus to a $400B deficit in just 4 years); that the war in Iraq was necessary (the country did not have weapons of mass destruction); that Bush cares about education (he under-funded his own No Child Left Behind act); or that he is tough on crime (the number of violent crimes has risen under him.) As we head into what is sure to be a contested election, voters would do well to read up on the real record of George W. Bush, not the one fabricated in Karl Rove’s office and repeated on Rupert Murdoch’s stations.

To be fair, though, Misstating the State of The Union is also a book with an agenda. Besides exposing lies or fabrications, it also wants to prove that things were better under President Clinton. I should say en passant that I was not a huge fan of Clinton (and, boy, did my Republican friends love me then!) and while I agree that, by nearly every possible measure, America was better off four years ago, I’m not convinced that it’s all attributable to Clinton (as opposed to other factors that worked in his favor.) Still, at least he had people laughing at us, an immeasurably better reaction than hating us.