George Graham

Shouldn’t the Press Set the Record Straight When Candidates Lie?

I don’t know whether the so-called journalists who host television shows and debates are being overly careful about appearing to be impartial or whether they’re just plain ignorant, but a lot of BS is going unchallenged during this election season.

Case in point:

energyVice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin claims that drilling for oil in Alaska’s national parks will help make America self-sufficient in energy. But, as reader Jan points out in a comment on one of my blogs, that’s pure fiction. Jan explains that Alaskan oil goes to Japan, not to the United States because it is “dirty crude,” which U.S. refineries aren’t equipped to handle. Jan, who is an award winning environmental journalist (many times over), knows how this stuff works, and she points out that American refineries have to import sweet crude. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of barrels of U.S. oil are exported each month to other countries. You see, oil is bought and sold on a world market, and goes to the highest bidder, regardless of what country produces it.

Also, Presidential candidate John McCain repeats the T. Boone Pickens canard that America buys $700 billion worth of oil a year from hostile Middle East countries. But most of our oil comes from Canada, South America and Britain. Besides the figure is about $536 billion a year.

The drill-booby-drill duo don’t mention that America has less than 5 per cent of the world’s oil reserves and consumes 25 per cent of global oil production. Even oil billionaire Pickens concedes that “we can’t drill ourselves out of this mess.” The answer to America’s oil crisis is obviously urgent development of renewable energy sources, which McCain has voted against repeatedly in the Senate (but pays lip service to in his campaign).

So why doesn’t anyone correct these two Jabberwocks? They are so wrong on so much. I’m not talking only about the deliberate lies – you know, the ones about Barack Obama’s “radical history,” which they totally made up, or about his health care proposal (Obama is not going to “fine” small business owners who fail to provide health care insurance for employees – he’s going to offer them a 50-percent tax credit). They also make up “facts” – so many that it would take a full-length book to document them all. Their entire energy proposal is based on fiction (they don’t seem to know how long it takes for a nuclear plant to come on line and how difficult it is to dispose of nuclear waste, or how long it takes for oil to make it from the well to the gas pump, for example).

I wouldn’t pretend that Obama or Joe Biden is 100 per cent accurate 100 per cent of the time, but you should take a close look at those “fact-check” stories in the news yesterday. The media are so intimidated by the McCain crowd and their right-wing vigilantes that they feel obliged to present one Obama error for every McCain error to make it look as if both campaigns are equally mendacious. But on closer examination, you will find Obama is occasionally “misleading,” while McCain is a barefaced liar. Here’s an example of Obama supposedly “stretching the truth”:

Obama said McCain’s proposal to give people a tax credit in exchange for treating employers’ health insurance contributions as taxable wages amounts to “what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away.” The facts are that McCain offers families a $5,000 tax credit to help them buy health insurance and critics figure the corresponding increase in taxable wages would result in a smaller cost than the value of the tax credit, at least at first.

Now here’s a McCain whopper:

McCain said Obama had voted for tax increases “94 times.” In truth, an analysis by found that 23 of the votes were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all, seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, and 11 would have increased taxes on only those making more than $1 million a year.

I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture. America is afflicted by lousy journalism. But what do you expect when global corporations own America’s press?

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for