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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Sargent: Overhyped Scandals Backfiring

Greg Sargent’s “Is GOP hyping of scandals prompting a media backlash?” credits Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee with “a moment of fine concern-trolling” in his statement that,

…You know, when you look at the IRS and you look at the Benghazi issue and you look at the AP issue, I think the trouble here isn’t even the individual specific scandals, it’s this broader notion that there’s a pattern of this activity. I think that’s what concerns people because what you don’t want to have happened is Americans lose faith and trust in their institutions…

Sargent responds that Roger’s dicey meme represents “a critical moment of candor. The most important thing here is not the individual scandals; it’s the sense of a “pattern” of activity that creates the risk.” Sargent adds that “The goal is to create an overarching atmosphere of scandal, because this intensifies pressure on news orgs and reporters to hype individual revelations within that framework with little regard to the actual importance or significance of each new piece of information.”
But Sargent sees “stirrings of a media backlash to the GOP overhyping of all of these scandals.” He notes that both the Post and the Times have not taken the GOP Koolaid and have instead responded with nuanced reporting taking a more sober perspective, debunking exaggerations and putting the incidents in historical perspective. He notes that even moderate/conservative journalists, like Howard Kurtz and Ron Fournier are refusing to take the GOP bait and blasting the Republicans for their flimsy, overhyped evidence.
Sargent reiterates that “The goal of Issa and others here is to create an atmosphere of scandal, with the deliberate aim of obscuring the importance of the details of the actual scandals themselves.” When all of the “scandals” have run their course, voters may decide, along with a growing chorus of the media, that Republicans have squandered their taxes on bogus investigations with no results, rather than legislating needed reforms.

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