Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Feel a Lot of Sympathy for This Guy

Anthony Weiner explains his outburst in the House of Representatives today in a NY Times Op-Ed. I don't know enough about this specific piece of legislation or the procedural rules involved but I am in full sympathy with his frustrations. I do fully agree that we'd be better off if people broke decorum now and then to say what they really think. This should go for more than just members of Congress though, we've been too silent for too long about those that would abuse the procedures and institutions that have made our country so great. Once the Republicans are back in power I urge them to remember this message too.

My favorite quote was this:

Meanwhile, conservative television and talk radio programs are full of false anger, intended to scare Americans. I think some genuine frustration at this misleading tactic is overdue.

Too few people are willing to come forward and be blunt about this, despite the fact that we all see it, whatever our political persuasions are (though depending on that some are more likely to dismiss its corrosive effects than others). We need truly accountable news media. Their even-handed whatever the merits standard procedures have proved themselves open to abuse. They need to start casting doubt where it's due, though I'd like it if they avoided playing up people too much for saying something likely to be accurate; it's the attitude towards falsehood and abuse of institutions that has to change, the mirror image of this, rewarding someone simply for following the rules would be a very bad road to go down.


  1. I am very interested in studying what the best tactic is for politicians to take in these circumstances. Bluntly denying the reality of inflammatory lies, as produced by Fox, actually has the effect of reinforcing them. But ignoring them can allow them to spread. It makes the politician seem weak and allows them to be defined by their opponents. The only recourse is to replace the message with something slightly different without directly addressing the attack. So, these outbursts are bad. Democrats should more or less keep quiet about Fox.
    It should be within the realm of Congress' power to force Fox News to "act in the interests of country" since they control a large percent of total media. I would prefer that they were broken up actually, but that's less likely to happen. Fox can have opinions, but they often knowingly give factually incorrect information. In the 1990s, a court decided that the news charter (that they must act in the nations interests) allowed this. Congress could rewrite the charter or the president could challenge that decision and take it to the Supreme court, though I think he would lose the case maybe.

  2. SirW,

    I don't think I'd like the idea of a court challenge against Fox. I really don't like that they don't play by the rules but the rules kind of require an unspoken gentleman's agreement. Usually enforcing these kind of rules require a tit for tat payback to work so the side deviating realizes it's costly. I don't think the rest of the media has made a serious attempt to do this to Fox and I'd prefer to see a tussle among equals before the state steps in.