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Loonies on the right, loonies on the left

November 09, 2012|By Alexandra Le Tellier

Both Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, in their shows this week, went after that contingent of Republicans who seem to have trouble telling fact from fiction.

On “The Daily Show,” Stewart zeroed in on Fox News' Megyn Kelly, who interviewed Karl Rove on election night about Ohio’s inconclusive -- at least in Rove’s view -- election results. Kelly asked Rove, “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?”

Stewart had a field day with this, concluding: "By the way, ‘math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better’ is a much better slogan for Fox than the one they have now."

The whole segment is worth watching.

Meanwhile, Maddow sought to put an end to the right’s wild conspiracy theories.

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to over-sample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing! And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone's guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial-services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Here’s the segment in full:

Of course, there are people in all areas of the political sphere who choose to believe in conspiracy theories, hype and good-old fashioned hunches over facts and science.

I was treated to some fringier liberal types after writing about Proposition 37 and why, though I care about health and transparency, I felt uncomfortable voting for warning labels to be placed on food that had no proven health risks, at least according to credible scientific studies. (Remember: Proposition 37 wasn’t about banning pesticides or protecting the environment; it was about warning people against GMO health risks that haven’t been proved.)  

One person called to ask who’d paid me off. Another, in an article for a left-leaning niche website, accused the Los Angeles Times of shilling for Monsanto, among others. Similar accusations populated my inbox and flooded our comments boards.

And yet, we’re the same newspaper that displayed website ads for Proposition 38 after the editorial board endorsed against it. That’s because journalists don't write in the interest of advertisers. There’s a church and state divide between the editorial and business sides. Crossing that line would totally undermine our credibility; readers wouldn't be able to trust us.

But I digress. I also got notes from people detailing conspiracy theories and pointing me to scientific studies that have been debunked.

I don’t mean to pick on the Proposition 37 folks. (And there are some wonderful people I heard from and enjoyed talking to, people who disagreed with me but were eager to exchange information and thoughts.) I’d just like to remind everyone -- in a week that hasn’t been particularly kind to Republicans -- that the left has its share of wishful thinkers too.


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