01/11/2012 02:03 pm ET

New Hampshire Television Stations Find Politifact's 'Lie Of The Year' Argument Lacking

One thing that should, by now, be painfully obvious to any political observer who's mastered some basic achievements in cognitive development is that GOP lawmakers, given the opportunity, would opt to discontinue programs like Social Security and Medicare in their current form. While the public platform of the party treats the matter with vagueness, ending the New Deal-era social welfare programs is a basic goal of the Republican party. They've fought numerous hardscrabble political fights to accomplish this. One imagines that there are many dedicated Republican voters who go to sleep at night content in the knowledge that the legislators they favor are striving mightily to bring about the end of federal entitlement programs.

Yet when Democrats made the painfully generic observation that the GOP was working to discontinue Medicare in its current form, the factcheckers at Politifact lost a screw or two and decided that this was crazy talk, labelling the claim their "Lie of the Year" for 2011. It was an odd decision, considering that it benefitted no ordinary Americans -- the traditional beneficiary of journalism. Democratic party-backers were left angered, and one has to imagine that Republican party backers were royally confused to learn that the people they'd voted into office with the understanding that they'd vote to end Medicare as we know it weren't actually doing that.

But armed with Politifact's strange ruling, the campaign of Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) attempted to get advertisements sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which rapped Bass for voting to "end Medicare," pulled from two New Hampshire television stations, WMUR and WHDH. Here was the first critical acid test of this Politifact ruling. However, as Greg Sargent reported yesterday, officials at the two stations found the Bass campaign's assertions wanting:

“Our lawyers looked at the ad and concluded it’s within the bounds of robust public debate,” Jeff Barlett, the general manager of WMUR, tells me. “If Charlie Bass and his supporters disagree with this, they’re free to create their own ad and tell their side of the story.”

In the case of WHDH, the station’s lawyers insisted on a very slight tweek [sic] to the ad — the new version added an on-screen quote from Paul Krugman agreeing with the “end Medicare” claim — but left the charge completely intact.

A thought exercise: given the opportunity to "tell [his] side of the story," does anyone think that the Bass campaign would put up an ad promising that the he would vote to preserve Medicare in its current form? Surely not!

TV stations refuse to yank Dem 'end Medicare’ ads [The Plum Line]

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