Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Jack Shafer misses the damn point

Today, in his Slate column, Jack Shafer tries to make it sound like liberal writers are just using the word liars to sell books:

(L)ibs and lefties have generally shied away from calling conservatives liars—at least on their dust jackets. But no more. Having realized their side is getting whupped in the court of TV, three liberal/lefties who are talk-show regulars have incorporated the "L" word into the titles of their new books. Comedian and former Shorenstein Center fellow Al Franken takes on Republican politicians and the greater media culture, including Hannity and O'Reilly, with Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. New York Observer columnist and Clinton apologist Joe Conason holds the laughs as he surveys similar territory in Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth.

He goes on to say how much liberals are going to hurt their credibility if they keep this up, but I think he's sadly off-base in his arguments here, at least when it comes to "Mighty" Joe Conason (I haven't yet read Franken). Anyone who's read Big Lies knows that Conason isn't really going after individuals and calling them liars, but is attacking the unfair stereotypes with which liberals are painted due to 30+ years of conservative screeching. He's a) right on target and b) conscientious about pointing out that sometimes, and when speaking about specific people, conservatives have their moments of lucidity, too.

Even a first-year English major could do a better job of describing the theme of Conason's important book than Jack Shafer.


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