Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Believing lies...

I feel a bit bad for Joe Klein, here.

Not really bad; as Glenn points out, he printed lies about the Democrat's bill to change FISA, claiming it "would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court". These lies were published by Time, and people will read them, and believe them. He's done something really, really bad.

But I'm sure he didn't intend to print lies. I bet he heard a lie, from a person or several people he's come to trust. So he assumed it was true, or, at worst, a different interpretation. And without checking his facts - who would say such a thing if it wasn't true? - he wrote the story.

And now he has to face a challenge to his world view. He either has to assume that the grapevine that he's come to know and trust will make up, or repeat, some vicious, unfounded lies, or he has to assume that there's a great deal of confusion around this issue. And, alas, there isn't much confusion about the issue. When two folks in foreign countries are talking, the government has full authority to spy as needed, and the Democrats' bill even loosens some of the technical restrictions that some judges pointed out. It's only when US persons are involved that the FISA court gets involved, and, IIRC, they're loosening the restrictions on that, as well.

It's not a difficult issue; it's not hard to find out the truth. But it would require Mr. Klein to recognize that he's being lied to, in a situation where most folks wouldn't expect it.

I mean, it's one thing to tell a nasty lie about someone... it's another to tell a nasty, and completely unfounded lie about someone. But it takes a particularly nasty person to spread a nasty, completely unfounded lie, when the truth can be easily discovered. Your instinct is not to check something like that... who would risk the humiliation of being caught lying under those circumstances?

If you had to be skeptical that people would, in fact, tell lies like that to score political points, you'd have to pretty much question your entire world view, and likely end up feeling like you were played as a fool and a sucker.

And that's never a pleasant feeling, especially when it's true.

That's why I feel a bit bad for him.

That bad feeling will evaporate if he decides that the problem is the big meanies like Glenn Greenwald pointing out his errors, rather than his willingness to be trusting of the wrong kinds of people.

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