Columns » Hightower

Ignoring the Big Lies of 2012




It's not easy to get in the face of power and defy the conventional wisdom — you can quickly get to feeling like B.B. King when he sings: "Nobody loves me but my mother, and she could be jivin' too."

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein know that lonely feeling. This pair of think-tank political pundits has long been popular on Washington's insider talk-show circuit as cautious, middle-of-the-road voices of conventional thinking. But then they went rogue.

Recently, Mann and Ornstein charged that the elite media deliberately failed to cover the biggest 2012 election story of all — namely that the Republican Party and its nominees were flagrantly running a campaign of lies. The duo was surprisingly blunt, noting that the GOP was not just practicing politics as usual (with a fib here and a prevarication there), but an orchestrated strategy of dumping bald-faced fabrications wholesale on the voting public.

"It's the great unreported big story of American politics," said Ornstein.

While the Democrats, too, tossed out some falsehoods, there was no comparison between them and the Republicans' ideologically extreme perversion "of facts, evidence, and science."

Yet, reporters and their bosses, fearful of being accused of taking sides, failed to make a distinction — which, after all, is their job. "They're so timid," Mann said. And a timid press is a weak one. "You're failing in your fundamental responsibility," Ornstein said of them, asking the obvious question: "What are you there for? Your job is to report the truth."

As their reward for daring to tell the truth about the mainstream media's abject failure, Mann and Ornstein have been blackballed. They're no longer invited to talk on the insider shows, nor have those shows even mentioned the media's pusillanimous role in abetting the Big Lies of 2012.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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