Friday, August 21, 2009

please don't let me be misunderstood

typically, watching indiana week in review—a show in which two political hacks and three business-friendly journalists get all wonky about the week's news—isn't my idea of fun. but this week, i may need to tune in:

Topics to be discussed on Indiana Week in Review today:

Evan Bayh's voting record. Is there a shift to the right this year?

Cap and Trade opponents rally in Indianapolis

Baron Hill's Tele-town hall plans

André Carson's lack of town hall plans

Dress Code protest at Richmond High School

Mitch Daniels' misunderstood remarks about motorcycle helmet use

emphasis mine. note the framing here: poor misunderstood mitch! all he did was claim that helmets aren't that important for motorcycle safety! never mind that his remarks were plainly, demonstrably false—he's just misunderstood! and this is the frame being advanced not by IWR's resident republican hack, but by the show's host and moderator, jim shella!

to refresh your memory, since i haven't seen this discussed much outside of this blog or a brief mention by doghouse riley—here are the remarks in question:

Asked, though, if those fatalities might be lessened with a mandatory helmet law, Daniels said that "honestly, the data says that's not the key -- that really the key is practicing motorcycle safety and people on four wheels being a little more attentive. That's what will make the difference, just as seat belts have made a difference."

of course, the data says precisely the opposite. numerous studies have shown that:
  • motorcycle helmets save lives and help prevent serious injury
  • mandatory helmet laws encourage more people to wear helmets, thus
  • mandatory helmet laws save lives

in fact, studies have shown that wearing a helmet is the #1 most important factor in surviving motorcycle crashes. anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, plain and simple.

in my previous post on the subject, i wondered why the indy star let mitch get away with such blatant falsehoods. why didn't someone at the star spend five minutes on the NHTSA site, like i did, finding the actual data? after all, when someone tells me something i know is provably false, my reaction is to prove it false, not to simply repeat the false assertion without challenging it. they didn't even bother getting a quote from a motorcycle helmet proponent to counter mitch's claims, which is what usually passes for "balance" these days.

but shella is taking things one step further. if the governor says something that, on its face, seems to be false, shella assumes that the governor must have been misunderstood! because gosh and golly, it's not like a politician would ever lie about something like that.

there are so many ways shella could've phrase that line. here are some examples, any one of which would have been more accurate:
  • Mitch Daniels' recent remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' controversial remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' misunderstanding about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' misinformed remarks about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' blatant lies about motorcycle helmet use
  • Mitch Daniels' second-degree burns after his pants spontaneously combusted while lying about motorcycle helmet use

that shella instead chose "misunderstood" is telling: shella is more interested in covering for the governor than in getting to the truth about motorcycle helmet safety.

it should be interesting to see how they try to spin this one on IWR. i'm also curious to see whether anyone other than ann delaney (IWR's token democrat) bothers pointing out the truth. i'm not holding my breath on that one.


NotMyMan said...

I linked to your piece on Mitch's made-up facts on motorcycle helmets on Twitter, too. From my stats, I see a few clicks, but I'm surprised at how little attention this got.

I think it's just a reflex at this point - Mitch just can't tell the truth about anything. As for the Star, well, I'm still waiting on them to finally call Mitch on his "no tax increases" lie.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Thanks. Just set it up to record. Good question--aside from the three of us, who misunderstood Mitch? Little buzz goin' around from the sort of people Shella hobnobs with? Oh, I mean covers? The sort of thing they say behind the scenes?

Man's a hack, and it's done Channel 8's coverage no damn good to keep him on the same beat for twenty-five years. What kind of "contacts" do you really need to cover a legislature that meets one-quarter of the year?

Here's Shella, for me, in a nutshell: when I was rehabbing my knee a year ago someone would always have local talk effing radio playing in the corner. It was about a week after the Hillary Clinton "shot and a beer" knee slapper, and he and Fat Mike McDaniel were yukking it up over her Limousine liberal choice of Crown Royal. Now, this happens in Indiana; it's in the heat of the first primary race in Indiana to matter since the invention of television, and Clinton's visit was the big news story of the day. You, I, and anybody else half paying attention knew at the time that the bartender had suggested Crown, which is the blue collar drinker's notion of a premium whiskey. If Shella'd missed that, somehow, he'd had a week to catch on as people corrected the Republican "Can You Believe This"? bullshit. Yet there he was, laughing with the Fat Man over her "gaffe".