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WaHoPo joins Tea Party
by Gene Lyons


Only a devout Jeffersonian romantic could imagine that human beings govern themselves according to
the dictates of evidence and reason. Even so, I've always adhered to the quaint view that journalists
should avoid disseminating false information, particularly on the opinion pages. An argument that can't
be won without cheating should properly be lost.

Contemporary political journalism, alas, has very little to do with such antediluvian values. Even among
Sarah Palin’s so-called lamestream media, the surrender to unreason and partisan tribalism appears to be
all but complete. Consider, for example, the Washington Post’s recent publication of an Op-Ed column
by Alabama Tea Party congressional candidate Rick Barber.

Barber, who was defeated in a GOP runoff on Tuesday night, nevertheless attracted attention due to a
couple of very odd TV and Web commercials in which the ex-Marine is depicted talking to actors
portraying George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, among others...

Alas, we've all grown accustomed to hearing such superheated humbug from right-wing talk radio and
Fox News' resident Chicken Little, Glenn Beck. There’s always been a large audience in the U.S. for
apocalyptic melodrama. Many of the same people who spent the last decade engrossed in Tim LaHaye's
dreadful "Left Behind" novels have turned in their confusion to persecution narratives of the crudest sort.

As the alternative would be to recognize how badly the Republicans failed under President Bush,
and how poor a fit GOP policies -- particularly in the realm of taxation and economics -- make with
the visible world, many have simply withdrawn from reality. Having lost an election, they complain
of tyranny. Hard times evoke tribalized fear. Versions of Barber's mad list appear in letters columns
from sea to shining sea.

But a newspaper like the Washington Post used to be owes its readers more than that. Every item in
Barber's list of "totalitarian" outrages is sheer make-believe. As Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen
pointed out, 'these aren't subjective questions, judgment calls, or matters of opinion -- the observations
he states as fact are demonstrably false.

I agree with Gene.

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