Barber and the ghosts of Washington Post op-eds past: why the old media deserves to die

At a time when a majority of respondents apparently believe Obama is a socialist, the Washington Post decided that it would be a good idea to give column space to a crazy, quasi insurrectionist whackadoodle Alabama congressional candidate best known nationally for cheezy commercials featuring himself in flustered conversations with bad actors portraying the founding fathers — ‘gather your armies’ — and another one in which he talks to an actor portraying Lincoln and equating paying taxes to being held in slavery.

Steve Benin notes the ridiculousness of it all:

Today, Barber has an op-ed in the Washington Post, defending the “politics of fear,” and rationalizing his hatred for America’s leadership.

Over the past 18 months, the federal government has sought to seize or has seized control of the health-care industry, the financial industry, the mortgage industry, the automobile industry, student loans, broadband Internet and the energy sector through cap-and-trade legislation.

If this were true, it might help shed some light on why right-wing activists like Barber are so hysterical. But here’s the thing: these complaints are gibberish. His indictment of the government is based on observations with no foundation in reality.

The federal government hasn’t “seized control” of the health care industry — it approved modest reforms of a dysfunctional system, the kind of reforms many Republicans supported up until very recently, while leaving private control intact. The federal government didn’t “seize control” of the financial industry — the Bush administration bailed out the industry to prevent an economic collapse, and Democrats approved some new safeguards to protect consumers, but left private enterprise in private hands.

And on and on. The mortgage industry has not been nationalized. The automobile industry was rescued, is paying the taxpayers back, and will return to private control. The government was subsidizing student loans anyway, we just ended needless and expensive taxpayer-financed giveaways to banks. The Internet and the energy sector are no closer to government ownership than they were before.

In other words, given a high-profile platform, Rick Barber’s case against the Obama administration and congressional Democrats is patently ridiculous for anyone who takes reality seriously. These aren’t subjective questions, judgment calls, or matters of opinion — the observations he states as fact are demonstrably false.

Which leads to the obvious questions: why on earth is the Washington Post publishing an op-ed with claims the editors surely know to be wrong? How does it inform the newspaper’s readers to present them with delusional assertions with no basis in fact? [Emphasis added]

When people talk about how much poorer the world will be when these dinosaurs finally go extinct, remember decisions like this.

Leave aside the normal rightwing game of telephone that is the Washington Post opinion section; what good does giving this hysterical loon possibly do?

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