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Everyone in the news media with a functioning brain knows by now that the Republican slime job against the Syrian leg of Nancy Pelosi's trip to the Mideast is bogus.   It has been documented to a fare-thee-well by ThinkProgress and other outfits that:

  • A Republican congressman, David Hobson (R-OH) was part of her entourage.
  • Republican Congressmen like Joe PittsFrank Wolf, Robert Aderholt and Darrell Issa have spent the past few weeks and months racking up tons of frequent-flyer miles going to Syria to do what Bush won't do openly:  Work with Syria.
  • Bush was given a chance to object to or even stop Pelosi's plans to visit Syria, and said nothing.

So, everyone knows all this by now — at least, everyone in the press should know this.  My hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis StarTribune does — or at least their blog watcher, Tim O'Brien, does.

Which is why it was such a shock to see, in the print edition of the StarTribune, a letter to the editor that was nothing but a tissue of GOP lies from start to finish:

PELOSI IN SYRIA

Sounds like treason

What a great job Nancy Pelosi is doing as speaker of the House.

She is spending the taxpayers' money by flying around the world, consorting with sworn enemies of the United States and doing her best to undermine the president and his foreign policies. She is fueling the fires of the radical extreme Muslim terrorists who have sworn to bring down the United States and the Christian world as a whole.

In years past and during previous wars, such actions would be considered treason and the person would be prosecuted.

PAUL BAKER, RICHMOND

Here's why this really frosts me:

As a little fledgling, well before I had molted into my adult Phoenix plumage, I remember writing my very first letters to the editor.  My first attempt produced a phone call from a nice, patient lady who explained to me that even though letters were opinions, they had to have some basis in fact or they couldn't be published.  If I said something, I had to document it. 

This was reinforced repeatedly over the years, with a variety of newspapers, as I grew more loquacious and cussed and disputatious.  Always, I was told:  We can't publish your letter unless you can show what you're saying is true.  We don't want to be caught printing lies.

So from that day to this, whenever I say something, be it a letter to the editor or a piece at FDL or my own blog, I do my level best — using web links when possible, cites from print copies of books or periodicals when not — to back up whatever it is I'm saying.

And now I find that, at least where Republicans are concerned, they can say anything they damned well want, true or not — even when everyone knows it's a lie — and the paper will still publish it.

Why?

I know I shouldn't be shocked by this.  I know it shouldn't surprise me that even the StarTribune, which is constantly under attack by right-wing nutjobs for no decent reason, cowers whenever Republicans clear their throats.  (Especially since the former editor, Anders Gyllenhaal, was into treating irrefutable facts as he-said/she-said, and prone to jump when the local arm of the Republican Noise Machine ordered it; it was under his watch that the paper hired longtime archconservative D.J. Tice to run the paper's political coverage, added more syndicated wingnuts to its editorial page, and even hired a complete ninny by the name of Katherine Kersten to provide the latest in barely-filtered Republican talking points to the Strib's largely liberal readership.)

But still, I can't help asking:

Why?