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Seeking the truth

September 16, 2008

Re "Veering from the truth? It works," Sept. 14

It is good to see The Times acknowledging the untruths put forth by the McCain campaign. However, in seeking journalistic balance, John McCain's falsehoods are juxtaposed unfairly with Barack Obama's statements.

Your article clearly pointed out six provable McCain lies -- that Obama supports sex education for kindergartners; that Obama said Palin is a pig; that Palin sold the state plane on EBay; that Palin turned down the money for the "bridge to nowhere"; that Palin didn't ask for earmarks as governor; and that Obama would raise everyone's taxes.

To counterbalance, you mention Obama's opinion that McCain doesn't understand voter concern about the foundering economy and his statement that McCain "has refused to support loan guarantees for the auto industry."

An opinion isn't a falsehood -- McCain doesn't seem to understand economic concerns. As for the second point, it is accurate to say that McCain refused to support the loan guarantees, without going into detail that he flip-flopped and now holds the opposite position.

Journalistic balance is good, but one candidate saying that the sun rises in the east does not give license to provide equal time for his opponent to maintain the opposite. Facts are facts.

Ann Cook

Studio City

Why does it work? Well, let's start with the misleading headline. Instead of using plain English (Lying -- it works), The Times opts for a spineless euphemism. Notice the placement of the piece on page A33. This certainly isn't where a story about the McCain campaign's blizzard of lies would be if the paper really considered the matter important.

McCain and the Republicans know there is no political penalty for lying. They know from observing this nation's broken civic discourse.

Our country's dysfunctional press have abdicated their responsibility to fearlessly illuminate the truth. The result is a nation of political illiterates, and a political class that has no respect for the offices it aspires to, the people it claims to serve or the lap dog press that serves it.

Michael K. Finnigan

Encino

Two thoughts from professor Martin Medhurst toward the end of this article perfectly sum up the problem of campaign rhetoric.

Medhurst says that the candidates are merely giving voters what we want, and that "we want simple narratives. We don't want complexity."

Unfortunately, political, socioeconomic and environmental issues are often complex. That's why they pose enormous challenges.

But I'm failing to keep it simple. Who was it who said, "Don't confuse me with the facts"?

David Slay

Seal Beach

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