There’s a lot of subtle lying that goes on in politics. Many in the media have a way of skewing the truth in such a minute way that you almost fail to notice it. Almost.
The last two weeks of this campaign have been like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Donald Trump says something about Ted Cruz, then the media either repeats it or ignores it. No questions. No investigation. No earnest attempt to dig up the truth.
After Make America Awesome, an anti-Trump Super PAC, ran an ad in Utah featuring a nude photo of Melania Trump, the media rushed to pin the blame on Ted Cruz. Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren all claimed that the Melania ad was from a pro-Cruz Super PAC, and Hannity even implied that Ted Cruz himself may have played a part in its distribution.
Let’s start with Lou Dobbs, who said:
“…Cruz began the exchange with a Super PAC attack on the Donald’s wife, Melania.”
Here’s what Hannity said:
“Things got pretty nasty between Trump and Cruz. Now, I guess it was a Super PAC that supports Ted Cruz [that] went out there with a photo…of Melania Trump…It’s really a low blow to go after somebody’s wife–and I know that legally speaking, Super PACs are not supposed to coordinate with campaigns–what do you think the odds are that that happened?”
Then Greta tweeted:
Candidates love their supporting SuperPacs but then when SuperPacs go off rails, say "I didn't do it"
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) March 24, 2016
Really? This isn’t some Twitter troll, or your dimwitted relative on Facebook; these commentators spend all flipping day steeped in politics, yet they couldn’t be bothered to do a two-minute google on the Super PAC that released the ad? Had they done their job, and stopped salivating over Trumpian ratings, they would have quickly discovered that the PAC wasn’t pro-Cruz.
To his credit, Sean Hannity later retracted his statement on Twitter. For future reference, however, my advice going forward would be this: Be better at your job, Sean. It is what you do, like, as a profession, and it makes an impression on millions of viewers and listeners.
Many people won’t see the retraction on Twitter. Once something is said by Hannity, or Greta, or Lou, the majority of viewers and listeners will take it as gospel because they’re under the sadly false impression that these people fact-check.
Fast-forward. Trump saw the ad, got butt hurt, and retweeted a composite featuring a beautiful photo of Melania and a badly screen-grabbed image of Heidi Cruz.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Ted Cruz responded, as you do when your wife is attacked:
Cruz hit Trump, not Melania. He denounced the ad, and even tweeted the following:
Donald, real men don't attack women. Your wife is lovely, and Heidi is the love of my life. https://t.co/pprXhIMzUT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 24, 2016
It couldn’t be more clear. Donald Trump attacked Heidi Cruz without provocation from Ted Cruz, and Ted responded to Donald, and Donald only. But listening to the pundits, you’d think both candidates were in the gutter together.
The following is an exchange between Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee:
CARLSON: “The Trump versus Cruz controversy, each one saying ‘Your wife is unattractive. Mine’s better looking’…for our viewers trying to pick a side here. Who’s right? And who’s got the more virtuous position? What’s your view?”
HUCKABEE: “None of the above. Once you start getting the families and the wives into the fray, you’ve really taken the whole thing off the rails…The single most disgusting thing you ever deal with [as an office holder] is when your families get unfairly brought into a campaign…and whether it’s done by surrogates–that candidates can say ‘I had nothing to do with it’–or whether it’s some of the candidates themselves, this is simply something that ought to be off limits…”
CARLSON: “I remember when people affiliated with the Romney campaign went after your family in the ’08 election.”
Repeat after me. Ted Cruz is not affiliated with Liz Mair’s Super PAC. Not only is it required by law that the Cruz campaign not coordinate with Super PACs, but this PAC isn’t even pro-Cruz. Moreover, Liz Mair herself said the ad was hers, and hers alone. Has that sunk in, Tucker? Just in case English isn’t working, here’s the phrase in multiple languages:
Ted Cruz est pas affilié à Liz Mair Super PAC
Тед Круз не связан с Лиз Маир Высшего качества PAC
Ted Cruz ei ole sidoksissa Liz Mair Super PAC
Ted Cruz δεν είναι συνδεδεμένες με Liz Mair Σούπερ PAC
This is the skewing. Americans who aren’t deeply involved in politics will listen to people like Lou Dobbs, and believe that Ted Cruz started this fight. Then they’ll listen to people like Carlson and Huckabee, and believe Cruz is in the gutter with Trump, attacking Trump’s wife. This stuff leaves a deep footprint in the political landscape–and it’s just not true.
So please, Tucker, Sean, Greta, Lou, Huck, and anyone else who continues to propagate these subtle lies: STOP. Not only are you damaging your own credibility, you’re being actively destructive. You’re lying. Try to stop lying.