I’ve been writing a lot lately about the importance of checking facts and making sure those you’re being fed are actually as represented. Here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. There was a story about George Soros floating around the left and right blogospheres yesterday, that revolves around an interview Mr. Soros gave to Reuters, in which he was asked about the coming election.
The headline on most news stories and blog posts was a variation on “Soros: Not Much Difference Between Him and Romney,” with honest bloggers and publications adding an ellipsis, and the “less honest” adding a period, or implying that was the entire quote. Many of the right wing bloggers put Romney’s name first because, well, they hate Romney. Here’s a Google search on the above headline:
A lot of progressives apparently saw the headline repeatedly and ran with it. Progressives all over Twitter castigated Soros for the statement, and some hysterically called him a "traitor.". It was repeated ad nauseum, as if the headline constituted the content of the entire interview, even though it wasn't even the entirety of his statement. A fine example is the following Re-Tweet of a Daily Caller “journalist” by our friend and self-proclaimed “journalist” Glenn Greenwald. Matt Tweeted the following:
Lewis, as a journalist, even for Tucker Carlson’s rag, should know better. But to his credit, he used an ellipsis at the end of the quote, meaning there was more to it. When you see an ellipsis at the end of a quote, fellow progressives, it should be automatic that you check the quote. It means there’s more to it. Go find out what it is, because in most cases, it’ll put the quote in context.
Here is Greenwald’s “follow up:”
Now, I guess I could applaud Greenwald for at least tipping his followers that there’s more to the story. Unfortunately, he fails on several levels. “He added nuance, but…” is a way to pass on a false narrative without taking any responsibility for it. If Glenn really wanted to tell the truth, he would have challenged Lewis on the concept, especially since it’s not actually truel. Soros would have said that, of course, if he had (God forbid) dropped dead in mid-sentence. And Greenwald's smart enough to know Soros didn’t add “nuance” to the statement at all. Nuance is subtle. He added context. The other words Soros placed around that half sentence put that half sentence in a completely different context.
Here’s a link to the article Lewis cited, and here’s what Soros ACUALLY said:
Chrystia Freeland: I’d like to turn now, if we may, to the United States, where politics and the economy are also quite volatile. You were a very early supporter of President Barack Obama. What report card do you give him now?
George Soros: Well, look, either you’ll have an extremist conservative, be it Gingrich or Santorum, in which case I think it will make a big difference which of the two comes in. If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them. And that’s not very encouraging on either side because Obama’s administration is a bit exhausted — a lot of the talent has left — and the Republicans would have to, or a Republican candidate would have to, bring in probably an extremist vice-president.
Chrystia Freeland: But isn’t there actually quite a big difference between even a President Obama and a President Romney when it comes to questions of taxation, particularly taxation of the so-called 1 percent, issues like carried interest? Do you see any difference there?
George Soros: Well, that is the big difference, and that has led my hedge fund community to abandon Obama in favor of any Republican because they don’t like to be taxed. I personally believe that when it comes to policy, you shouldn’t be pursuing self-interest, but the public interest. And I think that the income differentials are too wide and ought to be narrowed.
Certainly, you can see how context matters. Yes, Soros said that, but that’s not all he said. He said the Republican candidate, even if it’s Romney, will bring a far right conservative cadre and thought process into the White House. And he also said there was a major difference between the two candidates with regard to handling the issues of taxation and income inequality, two issues that are formost in the minds of progressives.
In other words, he acknowledged a major political reality that many self-proclaimed "political junkies" don't understand; the candidates don't stand alone. If Obama and Romney were running entirely on their own, he's right; they're not terribly different, politically speaking. Well, except that Obama's mostly honest with a bit of political BS thrown in for good measure, and Romney is completely dishonest. But they are backed by two different political parties, with completely opposite political philosophies. What they bring with them MATTERS.
In short, he did NOT say "there isn’t all that much difference" with a period after it.
Once again, folks; you don't become smarter politically just because you read a lot. You have to scrutinize what you read, and you have to stop believing whatever anyone with a byline says, without checking things out. Headlines are devices to get you to read the article; they rarely summarize the article itself, and they can often be completely non-representative of the content of the article itself. If you see a headline that seems uncharacteristic of what you know George Soros to be about, you don’t do anyone any favors by simply believing it. Check it out, and you’ll find out that everyone else got it wrong. That really does happen in this era of the lazy media.
Skepticism is your friend, folks. Use it.