Rachel Maddow didn't have any trouble taking Rep. Duncan Hunter apart last week for his fearmongering, evidence-free claim that ISIS members had supposedly been apprehended at our southern border, but apparently that was asking too much from ABC's Martha Raddatz and Matthew Dowd.
This is taking the “both sides” frame native to cable news to the point of absurdity.
On its perplexing Facebook tie-in segment Sunday morning, This Week wondered whether Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) “went too far” in his claim that ten ISIS members were apprehended at the border, a claim he’s been unable to support and one that was categorically denied by the Department of Homeland Security. Outside news studios the word for that is “wrong,” but in the strange epistemologically-agnostic zone of news commentary, where both sides always have equal weight even if one is a lawmaker expounding unsubstantiated claims, there’s no wrong, there’s just “going too far.”
I think the word for that is lying, but they didn't want to use that word either. Here's Raddatz and Dowd doing their best to pretend there might have been some validity to Hunter's claim:
RADDATZ: Trending right now: our Facebook find of the week. What's burning up news feeds? A high stakes faceoff over the ISIS threat.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter alleging members of the terror group were apprehended trying to sneak across our southern border.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.
RADDATZ: A stunning claim, but is it true? Not according to the Homeland Security Secretary.
JEH JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We have no credible, specific intelligence to that effect. Let's not unduly create fear and anxiety.
RADDATZ: But Hunter insists he's right. His spokesman firing back, "it makes sense that the left hand of the DHS doesn't know what the right hand is doing. It's been that way for a long time."
Did Congressman Hunter go too far with his new claims? Let's take on our Facebook find of the week.
RADDATZ: And the roundtable is here. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile. And ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd. Welcome everyone.
No one seems to have any evidence to back up Hunter's claims. Is he just seizing on people's fears? They are pretty high this morning.
MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, yeah, they're very high this morning. And I -- I don't want to conflate the two things with Ebola and this, but many times fear doesn't have to be real to be powerful. And in the context of it, we don't often have to have facts to back up our fears. We respond to our fears.
I think everybody has the right to say what they want to say, but they have the responsibility to say what may be they believe to be factually correct. The congressman says he believes it to be factually correct. But at a time like this with terrorism and, as you say, with the Ebola thing, we should counsel our fears and look for the fact sets.
I'll let Digby take it from here:
"Is it true?" There's no evidence that it is. But let's "ask the question" as if there's a possibility. Matthew Dowd certainly didn't disabuse anyone of it, did he?
According to him, Hunter says he believed this to be factually correct and that he has a right to say what he thinks he believes but he should only say it if he believes it to be true, which he does. But we should look for fact sets. (And by the way, Kristol immediately conflated ISIS with Ebola when they turned to him...)
They all know they are being irresponsible. But they just don't give a damn.