Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The crux of the biscuit

Today's letter from Kevin Goss has sparked a remarkably revealing discussion in the comments.
    Goss calls out the paper for regularly carrying the columns of Susan Stamper Brown either despite or because of the misinformation and disinformation she features in them to make her points. He then dismantles a couple of examples in one of the columns using straightforward facts.
    Commenters who have regularly demonstrated suspicion or animosity toward the administration that's been the target of Brown's attacks have piped up to defend Brown's right to lie in public, blasting Goss for asking that the paper stop buying her stuff, calling that "censorship." They seem to completely miss the importance of using lies to sell opinion.
    I'm continually amazed when partisans of any stripe blithely accept and support the use of disinformation in defense of their cause. It's so completely stupid. When you're in a game in which winning depends on reaching hearts and minds, above all you have to be trustworthy. Any kind of lie in your materials, even the little white variety, is guaranteed to turn your targets against you once they find out. And they will, more so now than ever. Ask Bill Clinton or Dan Rather.
    As a corollary to this, the paper that carries the lies, slugged as opinions or not, guarantees the loss of readers who discover them. It's not just stupid, it's bad business. Editorial integrity is all a news organization has to sell, really. From the editor's standpoint, cleaning this crap out of the paper isn't censorship, it's a survival imperative — or it should be.

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