The lines are usually attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts.”
But suppose there arose on the political scene a practical caucus for the opposite view. We are entitled to our own facts, and we will show you what we think of your attempt to “check” us. If that happened, would the press know what to do?
We hear quite a bit about the partisan divide in Washington and around the country. We hear a lot less about the divide around Moynihan’s famous lines. Those who think you’re not entitled to your own facts vs. those who dispute the statement. Or feel unbound from it. Or they simply run right over it trying to win today’s battle or deliver today’s news.
“Hey, you’re not entitled to your own facts…” vs: That’s your opinion. Kiss my ad. Read my poll.
Dear media critics: OK, entire news media called Romney’s welfare attack a lie. Campaign still pushing it. Now what?
I don’t know the answer. I do know that it’s troubling to other journalists sifting through the 2012 campaign. Two weeks ago a bureau chief wrote to me for comment on a story he was doing about the same development. My reply:
If we start back in the 1990s and read forward to the current campaign, we see distinct phases of innovation as political journalists react to misleading ads: first, the ad watch phase in the 90s; there was some mention of misleading elements, but the final tally was about effectiveness, or what I call “savvy.” The limitations of the ad watch led to direct fact-checking by the press, where actual grades are handed out. The emphasis is on judging truth and falsehood, not assessing effectiveness. So now we’re in a new phase: fact checking alone is not enough. The campaigns seem able to override it, which does not mean they override it equally or with the same vengeance. So what’s the next innovation?
He wrote back: right, well what is the next innovation? Again: I don’t know. (Hit the comment button if you do know.)