June 8, 2010

(h/t Heather)

John Amato and I frequently Monday morning quarterback the news shows and the pundits invited on to represent the "left" side of the conversation. Most of the time, I'll admit, we're puzzled by how that particular person is considered on the left (Joke Line, I'm looking at you). John has done some media training and I'm just dipping my toes into the media appearances (you can hear my segment discussing the Sunday shows on The Nicole Sandler Show live every Monday at www.radioornot.com or check out the podcasts) because we both feel so passionately that we need strong, unapologetic liberal voices out there to pierce through the right wing noise.

So I'm thrilled that we're seeing high visibility liberals like Arianna Huffington and Markos Moulitsas on This Week on a semi-regular basis. For years, it wouldn't have happened.

But after watching this clip, the substance of which Heather discussed on Sunday, I want to speak to a fatal flaw in appearances like Arianna's and Markos's.

As I expected, both of them did their homework and were armed with facts to support their side. That's what we do: we present facts and hope that the other side will observe the rules of debate. But look who they were debating. Do you honestly think that Liz Cheney is going to argue fairly? Of course not. She lies right in the faces of Markos and Arianna (and more importantly, the viewer who may not have those facts in hand) when she says it's absolutely not true that Halliburton was fined millions of dollars for defrauding the federal government. Note how Arianna laughingly says she can't wait for Politifact (a supposedly non-partisan fact-check organization through the St Petersburg Times) for their verdict on her factual accuracy. As of this writing, more than 36 hours from the broadcast, and Politifact has remained suspiciously silent on Liz Cheney, but only too happy to go after Markos for a slip of the tongue that he immediately acknowledged afterward.

So clearly, having the grasp of the facts and/or counting on the anchor/fact check organization to expect truthfulness from their guests doesn't work. Nor does expecting Liz Cheney and George Will to be fair, and not dismissive, as they trot out the strawman that liberals even blame the demise of the Gore marriage on Bush, something Liz Cheney thinks she read on Daily Kos. All snide insinuations to dismiss, belittle and render non-credible everything else they say.

Well, liberals, let me tell you right now: It's time to put away those Marquess of Queensbury rules. Stop smiling as they lie to your face. But don't get caught in some distraction (the last vestige of a Republican scoundrel: focus on some picayune aspect and steer the conversation away from anything of substance for which they have no defense). Keep hold of your head, your calm and your facts and cut them off at the knees, rhetorically speaking.

There's no reason, for example, why Liz "Spawn of Satan" Cheney should have any credibility to appear on these shows. She is a veteran of an administration widely considered the worst in modern history and of the department that pushed a foreign policy that has failed us, at the cost of thousands of American deaths, tens of thousands of devastating injuries and one trillion dollars of American taxpayer money. Her latest gig is at the head of a think tank formed with another neo-conservative (Bill "I'm always wrong" Kristol) to push a failed foreign policy that has been soundly rejected by the American people and to throw as much crap at our current president to see what sticks. That's it: she is on TV to push for more destruction. Why the hell aren't we impeaching her credibility by pointing out this FACTUAL information?

C'mon, Markos and Arianna, she's done nothing to earn your (or the audience's) respect. She feels no compunction about belittling you on air. Stop being polite. Be honest. And make that torture-apologist, war-mongering shrew and her partisan-motivated propaganda talking points radioactive on these shows.

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