And he sucked. He couldn't sing, wasn't very rhythmic -- you certainly couldn't dance to it. His serious pieces were a mess; his pop and rock stuff of no significance. Yet the local alternative rag promoted and praised his every appearance. Even the mainstream newspaper in town would include frequent friendly references to the "local legend" and his perseverance on the music scene, sometimes bemoaning his inability to break out to some unfortunate national audience.
But this is what local media outlets always do to hometown talent that deservedly stay that way. They aren't going to run a review of some local band and rant about how much they stink. The protection of local acts is understandable, but it gives them an unrealistic impression of their self-worth. When they finally strike out to Nashville or wherever and get laughed off the stage, they don't understand why.
The same process has happened in reverse for Congressman Paul Ryan, the right-wing Republican darling, who serves as the pretty face for the Dark Side of the once and future Republican agenda in Washington. Soon after parts of the national mainstream media settled on Ryan as the only Republican they could talk to without throwing up, the Journal Sentinel climbed on the bandwagon (more like a Red Rider, really) -- the local boy done good, a serious player in Washington, and blah de blah blah.
Never mind that, after Ryan presented his vaunted Roadmap, the GOP leadership ran screaming from the room, lest they be tainted with Ryan's radical ideas to at least partially privatize Social Security and shuffle future seniors from the safety of Medicare into the desperate hell that is the private health insurance market. Although they continued to claim the nice-looking (if you like that sort of thing) young man with greasy hair (I haven't seen hair that wet since my sisters' experiments with Dippity Doo) as a present and future star of the GOP, they wouldn't touch his radical Roadmap with a 10-foot pole. But the J-S had their local star in Washington and they weren't going to let a little thing like the facts get in the way of their fawning coverage.
So, when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran a perfectly legitimate ad in David Obey's district, pointing out that former reality TV boob Sean Duffey pledged fealty to the Roadmap and therefore correctly stating he "backed a plan to privatize Social Security", the Journal Sentinel got back on its hind legs to kick the DCCC back from whence they came. How dare they attack Duffy by attacking Ryan's Roadmap!! We'll show them: Liar Liar Pants on Fire!
Trotting out its newly-purchased PolitiFact® trademark, the paper distributed its first full-throated j'accuse at the DCCC for the temerity of calling Ryan's radical plan to take billions out of the Social Security lockbox and dump it into the stock market a form of privatization. Of course it is, and the article strangely admits as such:
"For some, personal investment accounts -- even if they are overseen and managed by the government -- are private, especially when compared with the current system. For others, the accounts are 'privatized' when they are managed by a Wall Street firm. That sounds like the definition Democrats are using."OK, so fair argument, right? Wrong, claims the J-S. For one thing "an earlier Republican plan calling for 'private' accounts was tweaked after pollsters found the public was more comfortable with the term 'personal' accounts." So, Frank Luntz gives the Republicans some more friendly language to use for the same thing, and its suddenly not private? Oh, and Duffy swears up and down he's not for privatizing Social Security. At least, that's not what he wants to call it.
Since when is something not what it is just because a politician says is isn't? Isn't that what this supposed PolitiFact® bullshit is all about -- sorting out what a candidate says from what the facts really are? Not to the Journal Sentinel. Not if it means that the DCCC can beat up on a Republican by tying them to the political poison that is Ryan's Roadmap. If that's the way it's going to be, they are willing to suspend the facts and pretend the Roadmap is not the privatization nightmare that it is.
The paper continues to do everything it can to protect the Republicans. If this is the way it's going to be with the local version of PolitiFact®, it is going to be a long slog through the Journal Sentinel's political agenda all the way to November. Perhaps the St. Petersburg Times may want to recall its PolitiFact® trademark back from the J-S, lest the Pulitzer committee come looking to get their 2009 award back.
In the meantime, it appears the Journal Sentinel version of PolitiFact® needs a fact checker of its own. I'm here to help. We rate this PolitiFact® report on the BullshitMeter® as: