Thursday, January 07, 2010

Words matter...

Here's another reason to hate political talk shows these days, as if we needed them.

I was dial-hopping late Wednesday night when I tuned into Laura Ingraham's show. I've never heard it before, although I've seen her briefly on television a few times.

The subject of the day was health care -- surprise! More specifically, it was Nancy Pelosi's quote that "There has never been a more open process for any legislation."

Ingraham then went on and on about how this statement was a lie. This was repeated a few times, and posted on her Web site under "Lie of the Day" for emphasis.

Well. It struck me that Pelosi made a judgment about the process, and that Ingraham disagreed with Pelosi's assessment. OK, that is the right of the talk-show host.

However, there's a huge difference between "You're wrong" and "You're lying." The latter not only isn't accurate, but it turns up the volume on the discussion and makes it much less civil and much more personal.

Ingraham has other "lies" posted on her Web site. One is from President Obama on winning a Nobel prize: "I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility." Now, how would you know this is a lie without being a mind-reader? She could argue, rather successfully, that he didn't deserve the Peace Prize, but saying he's lying about being honored and humbled merely hurts that argument.

I'm only picking on Ingraham because I happened to hear her. Political analysts on the left also use this sort of logic. Heck, I've heard it come up in sports. One time Sabres coach Lindy Ruff made an opinionated statement about a player, and a reporter told me privately that he thought Ruff was lying -- when that was a giant leap to take under the circumstances.

But it seems to come up far more in politics, where commentators are desparate to be heard above the noise. No wonder liberals and conservatives can't get together on much at times. No one seems to speak English.

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