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 December, 2009


 2009's "Lies of the Year" are Highlighted

A Lie, is a Lie, is a Lie

The words “You lie,” comprised the indignity heard ‘round the world on September 9th.

South Carolina’s Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress, wasn’t only dumb – it was flat-out wrong.

Obama truthfully claimed that illegal aliens wouldn’t be mandated coverage under any of the pending healthcare reform bills floating through Congress. He was right. There was no such mandate.

Wilson’s half-apology later that night, curiously didn’t carry with it any admission that he hadn’t, himself, been telling the truth.

But that wasn’t even the most spectacular departure from truth this political year. Wilson’s boo boo was minor compared to Sarah Palin’s invention – the so-called “death panel.”

That’s not my assessment. The non-partisan, fact-checking web site Politifact.com crowned Sarah Palin’s “death panel” statement the “Lie of The Year.”

On August 7th, Palin’s careless online claim that, “Seniors and the disabled will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care," was a complete falsehood.

Yet, the two words “death panel” served as an incendiary device that engulfed serious healthcare debate and even found their way into the halls of Congress.

Within days, Iowa’s Republican senior Senator, Charles Grassley (R-IA), told a town hall rally that, “We should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on Grandma."

Rightwing tea party organizers used it as a catch phrase designed stir their gullible followers into drowning out civil discourse during town hall meetings across the nation.

After repeated denials that any such “death panel” provision even exists – Palin supported her “death panel” lie, with even more outrageous claims.

That’s why when 5,000 people voted in the nationwide Politifact.com poll, 61% of them voted Palin’s nonsense the “Lie of the Year.”

Runner-up “Lies of the Year,” included the claim by professional liar Glenn Beck, who told his audience that Obama’s chief science advisor had “proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in drinking water to control population.”

Beck’s fib ranked second at 12.3 percent.

Knowing Beck, he’s probably upset that none of his daily prevarications earned him the top spot.

But he should be heartened by the results of Media Matters’ “Misinformer of the Year”

MediaMatters.com monitors statements made by conservatives in the media. It then contrasts those statements with the facts by presenting videotaped proof. (Needless to say, Media Matters has no shortage of material.)

Beck’s constant tirades directed at the Obama administration have become an ill-conceived comic drama. When he isn’t comparing Obama to Hitler, he’s showing off some chart that reveals Obama is a closet Marxist.

Whatever Obama says, Beck swears the devil said that too.

He’s gotten into trouble with his sponsors by claiming (and without a shred of evidence, that Obama is a racist). At last count 80 sponsors have removed themselves from Beck’s show on Fox News.

Of course, few of Beck’s assertions are grounded in fact. They seem to grow out of the depths of his REM sleep.

That’s why it’s rather astonishing that he didn’t rate any higher than second place in that Politifact.com poll.

Others who made that list include Orly Taitz, the “birther” who keeps challenging Obama’s citizenship, long after sane people have moved on to more serious topics.

Taitz pulled in 8.7 in that “Lie of the Year” vote, because she produced a “birth certificate” that supposedly revealed that President Obama was born in Kenya.

It only took a day or so before it was discovered that piece of paper was a complete forgery.

And proof the poll and the web site is, indeed, non-partisan was the person who followed Taitz on the list – President Obama.

His claim that “preventive (health) care saves money,” was refuted. For that claim, Obama earned 7.1 percent of the “Lie of the Year” vote.

If he keeps that up - and whether he’ll know it or not - he’ll be a Republican.

Edward A. Owens is a three time Emmy Award winner and 20 year veteran of television news. E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net