Saturday, June 14, 2003

Like many amateur media watchers I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about the nature of truth. I remember being about four years old and insisting to my parents that my father's skin couldn't possibly be called black because anyone could see that it was actually reddish-brown; and later noting that water wasn't really blue and the sun actually seemed more white than yellow. But accepted truth is more compelling than found truth and it's easy to get tired of insisting on your own reality and accepting the more popular version. I think this is why, even despite the lies and deceptions, people expect to have truths told to them rather than seeking out there own answers.

This is why the "Well, the President says..." are the four most infuriating words in the English language today. We know that people lie and yet almost always expect to be told the truth. While it's comforting that finally people are beginning to take notice, it's hard not to want to shake people for being so gullible.

Broder has recently discovered how easy this actually his.

What has been said:

In his two most recent State of the Union addresses and in dozens of speeches around the country, this president has urged Americans to devote time and energy to community projects. And he has pledged his best efforts to expand government programs of national service.

What the reality is:

At his road stops, Bush likes to introduce AmeriCorps workers, while telling audiences that "we'll increase AmeriCorps by 50 percent." That goal was also set forth in the president's budget for fiscal 2004, which administration documents said would take AmeriCorps up from 50,000 to 75,000 people.
But despite the rhetoric, skeptics noted that Bush actually reduced his request for AmeriCorps grants from $364 million for fiscal 2003 to $324 million for fiscal 2004. When asked how they expected to expand the program by 50 percent at lower cost, AmeriCorps officials said they have "achieved a lot of efficiencies" and have found that many of the local groups that get AmeriCorps workers are willing to subsidize their living expenses, reducing the cost to the government.

Welcome to our world Mr. Broder. It sucks! It's a place where we can every good reason, and every piece of evidence, and still be stopped by those four words: "Well, the President says..."

UPDATE: Josh Marshall, blogging from the West Coast, has more on truth telling, the media, and the Bush Administration.

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