Question: if a reporter sets out to fact-check a document wherein no facts in fact exist, has he still engaged in fact-checking?
Pity the hapless AP worker-bee on whose desk this assignment fell. It's not a job I'd want to take on, not unless my desk was like the one in that Quit Smoking commercial that's currently airing--in other words, well-stocked with a large vat (or three) of something strong, a selection of pretty cocktail umbrellas, and an industrial-strength blender. For starters.
And really, isn't the entire book a lie, given that it's written in the "voice" of Sarah Palin (my apologies to anyone who experienced involuntary shrinking of his masculinity upon hearing the phrase The Voice of Sarah Palin) but was in fact "written"--with written, in this case, defined as Set forth into print a series of words in an order that closely resembles understandable human language--by a hombigoted conspiracy theorist who, unlike her boss, is possessed of rudimentary grammar and spelling skills?
I'd say yes. The whole book is lie.
In this country, however, we have a longstanding tradition of giving our politicians a pass when it comes to expecting them to actually write their own stuff, as it were. I'm not talking about having speechwriters, either: I'm referring to the sorts who get book deals, and whose through-the-screen projection skills and starburst-generating notoriety translate to the kind of handsome, seven-figure advances actual writers could only envision in their wildest dreams, you know, those booze-fueled flights of fancy to which writers treat themselves every once in a while, and you can tell that's what they're dreaming about because they'll be mumbling things like, Yes, Oprah, it was painful, but in the end, it was all about the journey... as drool starts to trickle from their motionless, slightly-parted lips, at which point the whole sorry tableau shatters when the landlord comes to call and his incessant door-banging startles the writer into knocking over what was left of the Don Eduardo.
But if we're going to be broad-minded here, and do away with that particular conceit--that people who go on book tours as authors ought to be, you know, authors--there remains a body of work, just the same and regardless of who actually tapped on the keyboard, which custom, propriety, and (oh gawd) journalistic ethics dictate ought to be critically examined and fact-checked.
Which brings us back to our hapless AP reporter. Or reporters, plural, because I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the sheer volume of lies shoehorned into Going Rogue had inspired the Associated Press to summon an unprecedented number of lie detectors to the task force room, lay in a couple of crates of the aforementioned Don Eduardo--and probably an assortment of pharmaceuticals, just in case--and ask them to read Going Rogue, first as a fact-checking exercise, and later, no doubt, in the interests of upholding basic workers' rights to not be tortured, as an order to just aim for the goddamned needle-in-haystack goal and see if they could locate, within Palin's book, anything reality-based whatsoever.
Thus far, quelle surprise, the falsehoods are winning at a rate that would threaten to short circuit every bulb on the LIES side of the scoreboard.
Sarah Palin's new book reprises familiar claims from the 2008 presidential campaign that haven't become any truer over time.
Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer's dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition.
Palin goes adrift, at times, on more contemporary issues, too. She criticizes President Barack Obama for pushing through a bailout package that actually was achieved by his Republican predecessor George W. Bush – a package she seemed to support at the time.
In the interests of not short-circuiting my own meager equipment, I won't even attempt to print out the long list of lies contained in the Vincent/Palin propaganda vehicle. (And that's what they are, folks--lies. Can we please do away with mealy-mouthed euphemisms like misrepresentations, inaccuracies, and distortions?) But if you're interested, The Huffington Post has published the AP's initial findings.
There are going to be a lot of homes in this country owning their second book very soon.Also at Cogitamus.