Thursday, April 14, 2011

Incompetency or a lie? Jon Kyl confuses 90% with 3%

Really, I doubt this is really a flat out lie, instead I suspect that he was just making a common mistake in stating that "most" of what Planned Parenthood does is provide abortions, when the reality is very different than the perception.  Unfortunately, when things are put in to the record on the House floor, they tend to carry the weight of fact, so when mis-statements like this are made, the myth is strengthened as well as perpetuated.  So, while I doubt that Kyl's statement was a flat out, intentional lie, I'd still think that a competent person would check their facts before giving a speech on the floor.  But who said that competency was a requirement for election?

I also think this illustrates how misinformed most men are about women's health issues.  I would include myself in this category to some degree.

The Daily Show does an excellent job calling Kyl on this.  I really couldn't add anything more.

Colbert vs. Kyl and spread of 'misinformation' (By John P. Avlon, CNN Contributor April 15, 2011 1:40 p.m. EDT)

...the facts are inconvenient, and so they are ignored. Instead, talking points taken from talk radio are repeated until they take on a life of their own and eventually get the validation of a U.S. senator.

The news wasn't that Kyl made a mistake; it was his staff essentially acknowledging that in the current hyper-partisan environment, facts are a secondary concern, even on the floor of the U.S. Senate, even when they are paraded as statistics. The important thing is to scare the hell out of people so that they remember your political point and pass it on.

Using the Twitter hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement, Colbert unleashed a steady stream of Jon Kyl mistruths with the requisite denial. Among my favorites:

• Jon Kyl developed his own line of hair care products just so he could test them on bunnies.

• Jon Kyl can unhinge his jaw like a python to swallow small rodents whole.

• Every Halloween Jon Kyl dresses up as a sexy Mitch Daniels.

• Jon Kyl sponsored S.410, which would ban happiness.

• Jon Kyl let a game-winning ground ball roll through his legs in Game 6 of the '86 World Series.

• Jon Kyl once ate a badger he hit with his car.


Exhibit B this week: Donald Trump's re-enflaming of the thoroughly discredited birther conspiracy theory. When he repeats this falsehood in interviews, he is too often treated as a man with an unorthodox opinion, not someone repeating a lie on national television.

"Misinformation" is a fancy word for lying with an ideological agenda in mind. It has become more acceptable and more influential with the rise of partisan media. It preys on the gullible and the stupid and the ditto-head alike.

But the misinformation percolating around the fringes of hyper-partisan media is creeping into state capitals and the U.S. Congress. Ignorance and incitement begin to blur, compounded by the civic laziness of speakers who don't care to fact-check.

"Not intended to be a factual statement" is an instant dark classic, a triumph of cynicism, capturing the essence of Michael Kinsley's definition of a gaffe in Washington: when a politician accidentally tells the truth.


And don't be fooled. There are real costs to this careless courtship of the lowest common denominator. Without fact-based debates, politics can quickly give way to paranoia and hate. Our democracy gets degraded.

Americans deserve better, and we should demand better, especially from our elected representatives. Empowering ignorance for political gain is unacceptable.

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