Did the media just enter age of ‘post-truth politics’ with Paul Ryan speech?

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Paul Ryan’s speech to the RNC Wednesday night “pushed the debate onto a higher plane,” David Gergen told CNN. It also, as the Associated Press put it, took “factual shortcuts.” Josh Marshall says members of the news media must now decide whether Ryan’s higher plane is so high the truth can’t possibly be expected to take root there:

The real question to watch over the next 24 hours is whether that lying thing breaks through into its own issue, as something reporters who are afraid of getting smacked around by campaigns are actually willing or feel they need to discuss.

It’s not any great feat Thursday morning to find fact-checks and blog posts strafing Ryan’s speech. (Here are a few: 1, 2, 3). What’s rare is The Washington Post’s excellent “Say What” feature about the speech, which breaks it down line by line and has a collection of popular tweets about the speech and in-line links from Post writers, the paper’s fact-check blogger and others. There’s also one of those charts that shows how many tweets were sent at various times during the speech.

Before Ryan spoke Wednesday, The Atlantic’s James Fallows said the old ways of reporting politicians’ claims are no longer working and that the mainstream media is “adjusting to the realities of ‘post-truth politics.’”

When significant political players are willing to say things that flat-out are not true — and when they’re not slowed down by demonstrations of their claims’ falseness — then reporters who stick to he-said, she-said become accessories to deception.

Is Fallows suggesting reporters become truth vigilantes? He salutes the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and NPR for reporting on lies in real time rather than kicking them down the road to be picked up by sites like PolitiFact, which is owned by Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times.

On NPR’s Morning Edition Thursday, Mara Liasson rebutted several of Ryan’s points. Also on that program, Politico reporter Jonathan Martin talked about how Ryan used the news media to rise to power in a party he characterized as “royalist” — one where people traditionally wait their turn.

Martin said Ryan “Really leveraged his way into power [in Congress] not by playing the traditional inside game…but by working folks on the outside. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, The Weekly Standard, The National Review.” Ryan has “gotten well over 100 mentions in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages alone,” Martin said. Ryan’s path, he said, reflects a new political reality where “The way to obtain power increasingly is by getting these outside validators developing a profile with them, and then your colleagues who see these people and respect their views ultimately have no choice but to include you at the table of leadership.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Brown/508342691 Tom Brown

    I hardly think the Ryan speech is any kind of a turning point in political lying. Too bad the mainstream media, especially the NY Times, wasn’t as vigilant when lies about weapons of mass destruction were being circulated by the usual unnamed senior administration officials.

  • http://twitter.com/seanpcarr Sean P Carr

    Shouldn’t facts matter? Not varying intrpretations of the nuances of policy implications. I mean actual, verifiable facts.

  • http://twitter.com/seanpcarr Sean P Carr

    Shouldn’t facts matter? Not varying intrpretations of the nuances of policy implications. I mean actual, verifiable facts.

  • Daniel Valentine

    Remember back when a reporter could simply listen and investigate and then print the quotes they knew to be true?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Egg-Man/681171228 Egg Man

    David Gergen could get HIS messages across better if he owned up to that ridiculous combover he sports, which is apparent to all TV viewers that he is bald through that web of fair, and just face the cameras like Ari Fleischer and Ali Veshi at CNN as a good bald man. Why on earth does a PR man with a therapist wife continue to wear that silly combover? It belittles him!

  • Anonymous

    Analysis on Fox News web site:

    “Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words … dazzling, deceiving, distracting.” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/

  • Anonymous

    Analysis on Fox News web site:

    “Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words … dazzling, deceiving, distracting.” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/

  • David Brandt

    I agree with Dan. It’s as though the media culture at-large has shifted to only covering an event rather than providing complete story or analysis. It’s like they’re giving politicians – especially Ryan – a free pass. If the news media do their job properly, then politicians and other public figures will recognize that the best option they have for credibility is to tell the truth – even if the public won’t like it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/samdijk Samuel Dijk

    A nice heterogeneous melange of cites to articles that trash Ryan–without ever discussing the merits of those arguments. Waste of time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=717583338 Karl Idsvoog

    The next journalist who interviews Ryan needs to ask a simple question: why did he knowingly say things in his address to the nation that he knew were not true? Journalists have to stop being human microphone stands. When journalism fails, bad things happen.

  • Anonymous

    absolutely. each time. if “the media” is not about truth, then wtf IS it about?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dan-Berman/100000669729095 Dan Berman

    I’ve never understood this truth vigilante stuff. I worked at newspapers for a quarter century. We always pointed out factual discrepancies in speeches. Ryan barely opens his mouth with out telling a lie. He surely knows what he is doing. The media needs to mention it each time.