BILL MOYERS: Welcome. The presidential campaign is off and running; off and running from one fundraiser to another. President Obama has already set a record: the "Financial Times" reports almost 200 events at which he’s rattled the tin cup, more than his four predecessors combined. He’s ahead overall – with $104 million the last time papers were filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s ten times more than what Mitt Romney’s campaign had in the bank.

But Romney is the darling of the super PACs: Pro-Romney PACs have collected ten times as much from the friendly rich who prefer to give anonymously. And even when he’s the draw, you don’t see much of the candidate: At a New Jersey fundraiser the other day, Mitt Romney vacuumed up $400,000 in one hour at a private home while the press was safely cordoned off by police. No peeking allowed.

But while only a few people will actually see the candidates up close between now and November, we will be seeing the commercials that all that money is buying. They’re coming at us now fast and furious:

MITT ROMNEY: I balanced the budget every single year.

NARRATOR #1: You don’t quit and neither does he.

NARRATOR #2: Job creation numbers fall for the third straight month.

BILL MOYERS: But don’t despair. You don’t have to watch all of them. Because we have Kathleen Hall Jamieson for that. Our master media decoder and her vigilant team at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center scarcely miss a bobble along the political beat. At the websites and the new, their job is to critique, watch, analyze and share what they find out.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, thank you for being with me.


BILL MOYERS: One of the big stories this week was the defeat, in the Republican primary, of Senator Richard Lugar after 36 years in the Senate. And he attributes his defeat, in the statement he made after his concession, to the determination of conservatives and right wingers to bring him down. And he says it was because of his vote for the TARP program, for government support of the auto industry, for the START treaty, and for the confirmation of two of Obama's nominees to the Supreme Court, Sotomayor and Kagan.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: We have now lost an individual who was willing to do what he thought was right even when that meant working across the aisle. He's a conservative. He wasn't a moderate by most definitions. And as he notes in his statement, during the Reagan period, he was the reliable Reagan supporter. You'd call him a Reagan conservative now, which tells you how far the party has moved.

By losing him in the Senate, what we've lost is a person who has dedicated much of his life to nuclear non-proliferation, to try to make sure that those dangerous weapons don't get in the wrong hands and that we have fewer of them overall. He worked with Barack Obama on that. And the Obama campaign in 2008 featured that in ads.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The single most important national security threat that we face is nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. What I did was reach out to Senator Dick Lugar, a Republican, to help lock down loose nuclear weapons.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: That fact was used against Senator Lugar, the fact that he worked with someone across the aisle.

BILL MOYERS: So what does this mean for the polarization that already has caused such disaffection among the American people? What does it mean for solving-- resolving something like nuclear proliferation?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: It means that if you're going to get action, you're going to have to have both parts of Congress and the presidency controlled by the same party because you're always, under this set of assumptions, going to produce gridlock otherwise. And you're going to condemn anyone who tries to break that gridlock by reaching across the aisle in order to find a point of common ground. Essentially, Senator Lugar was defeated because of his efforts to find principled common ground on issues that he thought were important.

BILL MOYERS: Many people I respect, including you, say that this period between the election in November and the inauguration of either President Obama again in January or President Mitt Romney is a very dangerous period because the Bush tax cuts expire. The deficit has to be dealt with. There are other issues that cannot wait any longer and that there's going to be a roadblock in that period of time unless, somehow, they do find the Richard Lugars. Where are they going to come from?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I don't know. But we're facing what some have characterized as a fiscal cliff. This country has got to find a way to grapple with these issues at a time in which our system has proven to be dysfunctional because of the driving force of polarization.

BILL MOYERS: So what do people watching, regular voters out there, ordinary citizens who don't have much time for politics, what do they-- what should they be doing between now and then?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: First, we have to do everything that we can as a journalistic and academic community to focus this election on things that matter and to focus on issue distinctions between candidates that can actually translate into governance. There is a piece that the Obama campaign put up this last week that was called "Life of Julia" that projects from the age of three through 67 how Julia would be affected by various government programs that are actually already in effect.

BILL MOYERS: Frame Julia for us. What Julia are you talking about?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Julia is a two-dimensional figure created on a slideshow by the Obama administration as a means of showing what government currently provides under the Obama administration. And so Julia at three has Head Start.

And as she ages, she benefits from the fact that she gets to stay on her parents' insurance thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

When Julia faces potential pay discrimination, she's protected by the Ledbetter Act, the first act signed by President Obama.

BILL MOYERS: Which means?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Which means that she can file a discrimination suit if she is not getting comparable pay to a man who's doing the same kind of job. And she doesn't have an odd notification period requirement, meaning you could be discriminated against, not know it, and as a result lose your right to sue.

When she reaches Medicare and Social Security age, she's able to retire. And so it's an attempt by the Obama administration to say what does government currently do for you and with you?

And in the process, they're making some assumptions that are suspect assumptions. The Republicans respond by saying that's the nanny state and that's the--

BILL MOYERS: Culture of dependence.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Culture of dependency. And they lay up their alternative about what they think would happen if the Republican scenarios played out, better job growth, et cetera, et cetera. The Libertarians come in and do something that's very interesting. They basically say both of you are part of the nanny state, you Republicans and you Democrats. And we marginalize Libertarians a lot. The Libertarian critique is actually an important critique.

One of the things the Libertarian take on Julia says is her father is, you know, smoking marijuana. He gets arrested and put away. We're still fighting two wars we're not paying for. There basically is this other third critique out there that looks at the long term and says we can't sustain these things.

That's what makes the Julia narrative, for me, very valuable. It casts the long term as our perspective, not the short term. And if you look literally at what the Obama tracking of Julia's life in the slideshow does, it says this is what government currently does. How much of it are you ready to give up if we can't afford to sustain it? That's my reading on Julia.

The Obama people want me to read that and say, "Vote for Obama, you get to keep it." Vote for Obama, you don't get to keep some of it because its economic assumptions are not consistent with what we know the real world is. But I like the fact that we're asking the question: how do we afford this level of government if we want to keep it? Do we want to keep it? How are we going to pay for it? If we're going to cut, where are we going to cut? Those are key questions. And that's what this election should be about.

BILL MOYERS: But do you hear or see Romney and Obama addressing these tough choices--


BILL MOYERS: --in ways that reassure you?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: No. And if we have an election campaign in which they don't and they act responsibly, we're going to disconnect campaigning from governance. And when we have a campaign in which they don't, it's less likely that they will. And as a result, we run the risk that we are actually going to hurt the country dramatically because the polarization is making it much, much more difficult for people to find the common ground that they need.

When Speaker Boehner and President Obama came as close as they did to a grand bargain, we were seeing the possibility that government could work. When on each side the people from the left and the right said, "No, you can't give that," "no, you can't give that," we saw the problems of polarization. The leadership impulses of the speaker and the president were the right impulses. How do we draw them forward in order to get the right decisions for the country in an environment in which we cannot continue to do what we're doing?

BILL MOYERS: I'm going to get a lot of emails from my viewers saying, "Please don't have that woman again."


BILL MOYERS: "She's making me think too much. She makes my head heart," because these are tough choices.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: They're extremely tough choices. And we can't afford not to make them because if we don't make them the alternative is unsustainable for the country. And the people who say, "Well, we're going to find a way to cut," should be explaining why that's enough.

And we've had an interesting moment in which the-- Governor Romney was caught on a microphone in which he said, "Well, we'll cut housing. We'll cut education." Well, I'd like to see him say that in public and explain why. I'd like to see both sides say, "With Social Security here's what we should do." I'd like to see them debate Simpson-Bowles.

BILL MOYERS: That's the commission that recommended compromise on both spending and taxes.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes, and had distinguished individuals from both political parties. It is-- it makes tough recommendations. And I would like to see in the absence of the candidates having the courage to take the position, someone lay out the case for the Simpson-Bowles alternative so the public understands what it is so that we begin to build some consensus about what the trade-offs look like, what the costs are going to be, and what we need to do to sustain this country for future generations.

BILL MOYERS: But how do we do that?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I think we do it by having the media feature it intensely as an alternative and explain why it is important.

That's what we need to do in the presidential debates. We're going to have them. When they don't answer the question, the next person up should forgo his or her question and ask the question again. And if the entire debate simply has to ask the question then let's ask, what about Simpson-Bowles don't you like, Mr. President? You know, Governor Romney? What about it do you like? Are you ready to advance-- to say that we should move the Social Security age to 70 in some kind of a phased-in structure?

Should we be doing means testing in some ways? What are your alternatives? When you say you're going to reform the tax code, is that an excuse for saying you're going to do nothing? How much money can you get out of the reforms that you were offering? And what are you going to eliminate and what are you going to cut? Right now we're playing this game. Right now you've got the Ryan budget proposal.

BILL MOYERS: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Uh-huh. And to his credit, there is a proposal there. The first thing the Democrats did a response was to say, "Ha, we're going to assume he's cutting everything across the board." So they started pushing on the assumption that this good thing is going to be cut. This good thing, this good thing by “X” percent.

Congressman Ryan responds, "No, I'm going to get rid of some things entirely, and I'm going to preserve some things entirely. And I'm going to cut some things." That's actually the beginning of a productive exchange. Now the question is what for both sides? And let's get the public on board to accept that there's some things we take for granted now we're not going to have. There's some costs we're not now paying that we're going to have to pay. It's necessary to preserve our country.

BILL MOYERS: I understand that. But I don't know how realistically we make it happen unless there's perhaps a popular movement to require Romney and Obama to meet every week for six weeks before the election on debate terms, not of the parties' choosing, but of some independent group like we used to have with the League of Women Voters, that requires tests, probe, expects and demands that they answer these questions.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I think the debate structure is the possible-- is the place where we've got the possibility of the solution. I would like to see a proposal that Harvard floated a number of years ago, that we devote Sunday nights, from the beginning of the general election period through the election, to intensive discussions with presidential candidates about the serious issues of the day.

I think you'd find an attentive audience for that. And I think the person who's elected would find that he was better able to govern if the public had had that opportunity. The public isn't stupid. The public actually is smart in some important ways.

But it needs help in getting up to speed.

BILL MOYERS: Are we close to de-legitimizing the American political system? Is it possible we could reach a point in our political system where it collapses of its own absurdity?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: We're close right now to having a campaign run on attack and irrelevant arguments that are highly deceptive and, as a result, make it extremely difficult to solve the problems facing the country, which is what all the concern about money and politics is well justified and why we ought to worry about trying to vigilantly hold the super PACs and the third-party advertisers accountable.

Now, what are the consequences of high level of attack? You don't have a reason to vote for someone. You're only being told why to vote against. Hence, no projection of what the alternatives are and no understanding of the trade-offs in government. And the danger is, with all of this unaccountable third-party money, that we're going to have high levels--

BILL MOYERS: You mean super PAC money, special interest money.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Political party money, special interest money as well as super PAC money. We're going to have high level of attack; hence, no relevance to governance and votes against. And that we're going to have high level of deception; hence, people who feel betrayed once they see actual governance or who vote against a candidate they might otherwise support.

We have got to worry about this as an issue. And as a result, trying to ensure that people understand the facts under the ad's critical. Important that the ads not distract us from the central issues. All of this is a journalistic function. And important that, when there is deception, the candidate carries the burden.

If you'll remember 2000, Al Gore was hurt as a result of the way in which he campaigned against Bill Bradley. He made some claims that were considered illegitimate by those who were tracking the campaign. He carried that penalty forward. And the Bush campaign capitalized on it, in some ways, illegitimately to attack him in the general election.

What happens when a super PAC deceives? The pro-Romney super PAC not only outspent the pro-Santorum and pro-Gingrich super PACs, it outspent them 20 to one in deceptive dollars. Those are dollars spent on ads that were deceiving. So what happens when that super PAC carries all that deception? Do we say about Governor Romney he deceived and, as a result, he carries a penalty? No, we don't. And as a result, there's no penalty structure put in place to create a structure that dampens down the deception. BILL MOYERS: Since we last talked, the Wesleyan Media Project, I'm sure you're familiar with that, has given us some grim facts about how the campaign advertising dollars are being spent. First, it says, this campaign is shaping up to be an overwhelmingly negative one, much more negative than 2008. So far, says the Wesleyan Project, 70 percent of the ads are negative. Talk to me about that.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: What we do know this year is that we've had a high level of attack and that we've had a high level of deception. And I separate the two because you can have deception in ads that make the case for a candidate that aren't simply ads that attack. And what happens when you have a high level of attacks and a high level of deception is that you disassociate campaigning from governance. And you minimize the likelihood that the candidate who is elected has made a case for a presidency that he can actually act on and mobilize the American people on behalf of.

BILL MOYERS: So negative ads are alright if they’re true, right?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: I don't like to use the word "negative" because it conflates legitimate and illegitimate attack and because negative to most people means duplicitous. It means you're not looking at the ads that make the case for a candidate that may be deceptive.

But the-- one of the problems with high levels of attacks is that it doesn't give you a basis to vote for a candidate. One of the advantages of attack at some level is it creates legitimate issue distinctions. When it's fair and accurate in relevance to governance, attack is what makes politics work.

I'm not going to tell you bad things about me when I'm running. You're going to tell voters things that are accurate if you're running a good honorable campaign to create a legitimate issue distinction. Sometimes candidates attack others for things they've actually done themselves.

And also you're going to make a case that has-- translates into governance so it gives people some reason to vote for you and against me. Those contrast ads are actually the strongest form of advertising we have because they tell you on an issue where there's a distinction where I stand, where you stand. And if that relates to a real decision in governance, that helps people vote.

BILL MOYERS: What's your response to these numbers? Outside groups including super PACs have sponsored almost 60 percent of the ads aired compared with three percent! Three percent of the ads in 2008. One group alone, Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, has aired nearly 17,000 spots mostly against Obama.

And all together there have been 33,420 anti-Obama pro-Republican spots run compared to 25,516 anti-Republican, pro-Obama spots. What do you make of that?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, first, third-party advertising, that's non-candidate advertising, has historically been more attack driven and more deceptive. And that's true this year as well. Secondly, when there are imbalances in money tied to messages, the side with the higher dollar amount of messaging has the advantage.

We showed this in 2008, interestingly, when the advantage was with the Obama campaign, which in some media markets outspent John McCain four to one. We documented the effect of that difference in the presence of controlling everything else that might have affected voters. And we showed a difference in vote choice based on the amount of money-- differential in the amount of money spent by the two campaigns.

And the biggest problem occurs when there's a differential in spending and a high level of deception tied to a high level attack because now you have the worst possible consequences. The whole electoral environment becomes more attack driven with deceptive content that might mislead voters into voting against a candidate they might otherwise support.

And it, by divorcing campaigning from governance, it invites cynicism about our political process. Why, after all, if when you're told all these things that are deceptive and then you vote and you don't as a result see forecast governance, should you vote the next time? And that's the theory behind the notion that maybe it does demobilize. There is some evidence of that.

BILL MOYERS: So if I had more money than you and I spend more of that money on negative ads and I run more negative ads than you, I have the advantage?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Assuming that you've got a comparably effective message. Yes, redundancy is correlated to retention.

BILL MOYERS: How do beleaguered, busy, besieged voters sort out the BS from the truth? I mean, I brought with me two ads I want to play side by side. One is from Americans for Prosperity, funded by in part by the super-rich Koch brothers. And it attacks President Obama's record on energy.

The other which I’ll play right after is an almost instant rebuttal from the Obama side. And it features someone most people have never seen, the deputy campaign manager for Obama's reelection. So let me play these two ads and then we'll talk about them.

NARRATOR #3: Washington promised to create American jobs if we passed their stimulus. But that’s not what happened.

Fact: Billions of tax payer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries. The Obama administration admitted the truth that $2.3 billion of tax credits went overseas. While millions of Americans can’t find a job. $1.2 billion to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.

Half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland. And tens of millions of dollars to build traffic lights in China. President Obama wasted $34 billion on risky investments. The result: failure! American tax payers are paying to send their own jobs to foreign countries. Tell President Obama: American tax dollars should help American taxpayers.

BILL MOYERS: And now here is the almost the almost instant rebuttal.

STEPHANIE CUTTER: Hi, I’m Stephanie Cutter. I’m the Deputy Campaign Manager here at Obama for America, and I wanted to arm you with the facts about the latest attack from Big Oil. You may have heard of the Koch brothers. They’re secretive oil billionaires bankrolling Republican campaigns and now they’re backing Mitt Romney. Pretty simple reason for this, President Obama would take away billions of dollars in unnecessary oil tax breaks – Mitt Romney would protect them.

So now they’re spending six million dollars on an ad that is so blatantly false the Washington Post said they have no shame.

Let’s get the facts out because it’s important that you guys know the truth. President Obama has helped create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs. Projects in all 50 states. And the way these oil billionaires and their front group completely ignore the truth is breathtaking.

Let’s take some crazy examples from their attack ad. They claim the administration gave money to build electric cars in Finland. No, the Department of Energy’s funding was specifically for U.S. jobs at U.S. facilities. Sure enough the company is employing 700 workers in California and their planning to build a plant in Delaware.

Okay, another ridiculous claim: they said we sent money to China to build traffic lights. That’s wrong again. Those traffic lights were assembled here, in this country, and helped expand our light manufacturing industry in this country.

They said we gave money to a company building solar plants in Mexico. Nope. Wrong again. Our money is going to a solar plant here in America with American workers.

These guys are going to say whatever it takes to tear down the President. They will literally say anything. They oppose expanding clean energy. They oppose higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. So we’re going to call their BS when we see it. And we need your help to call them on it too and to set the record straight.

So share this, Tweet it, Facebook it. I keep hearing about Tumblr and whatever that is, please use that too. And thank you, for all of your help.

BILL MOYERS: Two totally different kind of ads. One's slick, highly produced, all that music and sound bites and the drama of it. The other one just straightforward, some young woman talking into camera. How do you evaluate the techniques there?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Well, first, the second is a web video and it's consistent with the ways in which the Obama campaign talked to supporters in 2008. Very straightforward. Someone comes on camera and says, "Here's the way we see the facts."

The produced, the highly visual, very evocative produced content is almost always more effective because it's more memorable. The visuals, the music, and the words underscore each other. Under both of these, however, are problematic claims. And so if you say, "I really like Stephanie Cutter. She seems really credible. I guess I'm going to believe her," or, "I really buy into all this fancy produced content in the third-party ad," you've made a mistake.

What you need to ask in both is what are the patterns of deception and how can I detect them? So let me give you some quick guides. The Koch brothers aren't big oil. The Koch brothers are little oil. They run all sorts of things, but the percent of their income that comes from oil, small compared to big oil.

She's calling them big oil because you're afraid of big oil. Big oil is negatively cast. And it's much easier to say bad thing, big oil and tie it to Koch brothers than to say highly diversified, lots of things that they run, Koch brothers. So first move, when somebody uses a single scary something and attacks should ask is that right? And what does that mean? On the other side, when people make categorical claims, do you think it's really plausible? So no jobs created by the stimulus? That's not plausible. Everything about economic theory would say it must have done something.

Well, the CBO, Congressional Budget Office, says that the stimulus created or saved 1.2 to 3.3 million jobs. That's not a small number. So test the plausibility. When people make categorical claims, they're usually false. Now, I notice I didn't say always false because that would be a categorical claim.

Then when visuals pop up on the screen, as you see words or you hear words, ask whether the visual is driving a false inference. You saw Solyndra pop up on the screen. Solyndra has failed. You heard 34 billion and the word "failure." Now, you're not-- you're processing rapidly. It's going like this in the ad. You're not likely to say 'cause you know Solyndra was a failure. That was Solyndra 34 billion? Was everything else 34 billion a failure? When you see a visual that's strong and you associate it with something that is accurate, ask whether the rest of what you're processing is coming along is misleading you.

Of the rest of that money, Solyndra and a group, I think it's called Beacon Power, are the two that have failed. We may, as a country, get back some money from them in bankruptcy. But let's assume that we don't, we lose all of those loan guarantees. If we do, it's two percent of the money that's been spent.

But that piece is not going to let you ask that because it's moving so rapidly. You've already processed the whole thing has failed because Solyndra is so visible and available. And we've heard about it in news. And it is legitimately a failure for the Obama administration. And we tend to over-generalize. So what's the bottom line with this? And there's one more, by the way. Whenever somebody says "jobs overseas," stop. We're in a global economy.

It's virtually impossible to spend a large amount of money on something major and not have something that's going overseas. We've got things that are plants in the United States that are owned by people overseas. We've got people in the United States who own things but the plant is overseas. And in many of the big products that we assemble, automobiles, you've got parts coming from all over.

So did the jobs all go overseas? Or in a global economy would some of it have gone overseas and some of it come here? Now, once you make that inference, you can tell why the Democratic response and the ad are both telling you a partial truth. Some of that money did create jobs overseas, but some of that money created jobs here. The ad only tells you half. The Democratic response only tells you half. But since you know the economy is global, you know there is some truth in both.

BILL MOYERS Is it true, by the way, that fact checkers forced Mitt Romney to back away from his claim that he had net-net increased jobs by 100,000 while he was running Bain Capital?

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: Yes. And when people say fact checking doesn't matter, here's a case study. Fact checking often hits a brick wall. That is the campaigns believe that they can restate so often with evocative ads that they override it. But when it is persistent and when you have debates to personally hold a candidate accountable and when the other candidates are doing it as well, it can succeed. And that's how the process is supposed to work.

BILL MOYERS: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, we'll be seeing how this plays out over the next coming months. Thanks for joining me.


Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Election 2012 Media Tactics

With the 2012 campaign season moving from primary to election mode, Bill invites back to his studio master media decoder Kathleen Hall Jamieson for a closer look at the role misinformation will play in the Obama vs. Romney TV ad slugfest. Jamieson, who runs the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, including the sites and, discusses the sharp increase in deceptive advertising in the 2012 race, and equally-alarming new obstacles to campaign ad transparency.

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  • John Pearson

    I normally love Kathleen Jamison, and it was an interesting discussion tonight, though I was disappointed that she talked about Simpson-Bowles as though there actually was a Simpson-Bowles report (and that Bill didn’t call her on it). There was of course no report because the full committee could not agree on it. The two chairs did make a recommendation together, and that is far different than a true report and recommendation from the full committee. I was also disappointed to see her give some credence to the Ryan budget, rather than acknowledge the numbers in the budget which show it would essentially eliminated all of government except Social Security, Medicare, and the military. She made it sound like a reasonable starting point where it is actually the most radical proposal ever made in congress (or close to it). And she acted like it was the only budget plan out there, ignoring the People’s budget put out by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She is right on when it comes to discussion the money in the campaigns, and seemed to get off track when she strayed from that. It would have been interesting to see her challenged more on her assumptions. It would have made an interesting conversation even more worth watching.

  • doggirl

    Does Ms. Jamison really  beleive that the media (Fox, PBS, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC)  is going to step up to the plate and ask the tough questions during the Presidential debates?  I almost laughed out loud when I heard her propose that this is what needed to happen–as if this was acutally something we could fathom ever happening? I wish that she would explain how she would  see this playing out–that David Gregory or Katie Couric or Brit Humes would have the audacity to pin them down and repeat questions until the Candidates would answer them honestly?   This seems like stuff of pure fiction. 

    Unless the moderators at the debates will be  Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill and Glen Greenwald whose leg is Ms. Jamison pulling here? 

  • Ford Prefect

    Hall Jamieson is correct in focusing on “campaigns separated from governance.” She asserts that polarization is the cause of this, but I take issue with that. 

    One of the causes of these vapid campaigns is the fact that both parties essentially agree on things like Simpson-Bowles. Both parties want to cut Social Security. Both parties want to preserve defense spending at higher levels than exist now. Both parties want to stick it to the middle-class to pay for it, while lowering taxes on the rich.

    Hall Jamieson takes the “centrist” position that two parties should debate S-B, but she also limits the frame to how both parties want to move forward on “tough decisions.” Within that narrow frame, it is of course not possible to debate the wisdom of S-B itself. She takes it as a given that this is the only way forward and she’s just plain wrong in that assertion. In this instance, she is making a right-wing argument while claiming it’s just practical necessity. 

    When both parties’ leadership essentially share the same priorities and when those priorities also seem to poll rather poorly, they absolutely have to campaign on the most cynical grounds possible: vapid personal ad hominums that have little or nothing to do with reality. That is where the real cycnism is, not on the part of voters watching their (and their childrens’) futures being flushed down the loo.

    If there are presidential debates, they will take on the tone of competing as to which candidate will be more warlike. Which will lower the standard of living further. Which will do it more quickly. Who will lob the most drones at countries most Americans have trouble finding on a map?

    Neither  candidate thinks “government can create jobs,” even though both have had government jobs for much of their lives.

    The real problem with our discourse isn’t what’s in it. It’s what’s missing that matters most. Real solutions can’t be discussed because the Washington Consensus forbids it and both parties agree on that much.

    There is no longer any basis for real debate. It is because our only choices now are essentially, “Coke or Pepsi?” And this is how you separate campaigns from governance.

  • fedupwithpoliticians

    The political process has already been so saturated with deception that most educated people that I know don’t even “want to hear it”. As Hacker and Pierson pointed out, most voters make political decisions based on the “flimsiest of evidence”. And, the parties know that passive obstruction and deception about that wins 2 out of 3 times. 30 years of lies while they gave tax cuts for the wealthy and also bankrupted the nation have put the tax burden on what is left of the middle class.

  • JonThomas

    I’d like to believe that M(r)s. Jamieson framed her
    comments as she did because of the present, practical dynamics.

    But I
    agree with the comments before me, until the discourse leaves the 2 party framework and opens up to
    include a richer range of ideas, the American people will not be served
    by any pundit who continues to keep public thinking constrained and “forced” by exclusion into accepting the
    current political paradigm.

    In other words…stop feeding us the 2 partied polarized pablum!!!!!!

    Mr. Moyers, you know this, and you too believe what we are saying, please continue to stand up and challenge your guests.

    I like M(r)s. Jameison, and think she has a lot to offer, but she too
    needs to stop defining the debate by what the current 2 party garbage
    offers. Such limitation chain our minds and our intellectual innovation!!

    The proof of the only 2 parties, and ‘that’s all you’re allowed to hear
    from,’  system being promulgated by the media is the ignoring of
    Representative Ron Paul.

    I like many Libertarian viewpoints, yet there are some things with which I disagree.

    Yet, he was all but ignored or made to look insignificant.

    If he ran as a Libertarian candidate, and not as a Republican, he would have been ignored completely.

    His views aside, what his campaign has shown is that it’s not the
    American people who aren’t willing to think out of the 2 party system
    box. Rather, it’s the media, political “experts,” and the monied interests who control the
    debates and the players. Such control, along with who gets funding, what sets
    the stage and limits our choices to the 2 parties, both controlled by
    special interests…2 sides of the same golden coin.

    The Occupy movement is the 2nd bit of proof.

    The Occupy movement is either ignored, or as was seen last week, depicted  by the media as violent,  ineffectual, or silly.

    The media accomplishes such dismissals by reporting fewer numbers than
    those that are actually showing up for events, focusing on the small
    amount of vandalism as compared to peaceful, meaningful messages, and by
    characterizing them with denigrating labels.

    The Tea Party had to join with their ideological cousins, the
    Republicans to gain attention and legitimacy, and as was recently shown
    in Indiana with Sen. Richard Lugar they are now causing dilemmas for the Republicans.

    The point is…the 2 parties no longer, if they ever really did, serve the interests of the American People.

    The media and political experts need to take the lead in bringing
    attention to other viewpoints. If they neglect that responsibility the
    public will continue to suffer under the monied interests which continue
    to constrain the American political system and discourse.

  • Karl Hoff

    I liked the guest two guests, but liked what Bill Moyers said more. When I hear that the way to solve problems is to get more money and disperse it to those who need it, is like Robin Hood, that live in the forest like a camper. At that time I believed they lived under the feudal system, so the act of robbing from the rich and giving to the poor would only result in more money that could be taken by the rich from the now not so poor. This is how I see an improvement could be made. Hang in with me…it will seem strange. I believe our loyality to any cause is in what we believe before their is trouble with the direction we take. I was always puzzled as to why a cat that is pampered would sometimes run away and one that is badly abused would stay. Than I noticed that humans do the same thing. Do we pamper the 1%? Totally! Is the 1% abusing the 99%? Totally! Maybe more of us should listen to E.O. Wilson as he brings to light the similarities between Ant and Human behavior. Some ants kill to survive and some protect to survive. Do they really know whether their way is best? Do we really know which way is best in the way we live? The difference between ants and humans is that ants are born programmed and only live a short time and humans are born a mental blank and are programmened by their environment which is different for everyone. Ants unlike sea turtles that live a long time never see their parents, yet know exactly what to do to survive. Humans sometime don’t know that much at 40 yrs. of age. I know that I am a product of what I was programmed in the time I lived by my parents and my community and changing my programming is very difficult. So, as I see it we need to change ourselves from people that do what we do by our gut feeling (programming), to people that realize that the reason change hasn’t worked well is because our gut feelings often  leaves out the feelings of others in far too many cases. That’s why so many well meaning people go from trying to solve a problem to being part of it.. Ants are stuck with their programming, we are not.

  • Ed Bodine

    I am sad to see Dick Lugar go, but being a Hoosier, I have to agree he has not spent much time connecting with his people Back home in Indiana the last few years.  However I do see this as an opportunity to dethrone Mourdock as Indiana State Treasurer.  We have had a financial mess in Indiana since he has been State Treasurer and Indiana’s education system has paid the price.  Here are Highlights:

    Mid December, 2009, Mitch Daniels announced a $300 million cut in public education funding:,0,7603383.story
    Dec 15th,2011, Governor Mitch Daniels says the state found an extra $300 million and it’s an early Christmas present for Hoosiers:
    Apr 5th, 2012, Indiana budget officials say $206 million communities could have spent on public safety, streets and other services residents expect was mistakenly kept by the state:

    New Albany, IN



  • jon-edmond abraham

    Ach! I really ache from listening to your two main guests today, Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Ms. DeMoro, heroic and inspiring though they are indeed.  Sometimes I’m near tearful from your interviews, and I have deep, abiding  respect for Mr. Moyers.  Still, I honestly believe as a result of listening closely to these two interviewees, that we Americans need a revolutionary passion to gut all that keeps government of, by and for the people from government of, by and for THE PEOPLE.  It is presently of, by and for the FEW.  I especially resent when (mostly) the political classes invoke “Americans” or “the American People” as though they’re speaking for all Americans.  Their heads are up their collective asses when they say that, because of the nature of their politics and the people and political organizations who pay them to opine.  I’m an American, too.  I was born here.  I’ve never seen such cancerous greed and political cowardice  from just a few powerful, well-connected families and corporations till now.  The Supreme Court doesn’t support America, Americans or anything more than they support Conservative and quasi Catholic Conservative positions.  They seem more dedicated to their personal political agenda than allowing our democracy to flourish, as do most elected politicians any more.  It all makes me ache terribly, especially considering how betrayed most of us feel.  I see the pain every day here and my next thought is “no one really cares” who is elected to do anything substantive about it anymore.  Money owns politics and politicians and government, too anymore.  I civil insurrection needs to ensue to correct the course of our democracy.  It was never meant to be of, by and for the rich and powerful only.  Not for only the banks and corporations, either.  I for one never took stock in the personhood  of corporations, as did the US Supreme Court all those years ago.  Corporations are fictional, people and citizens are not, and the Court has had it wrong several times before, especially as in the issues of personhood of black people.  But I am in despair, for I see no other way through but real gut wrenching, messy revolution to keep what  President Lincoln won from the extremeist factions who say, “The rest of you can just eat cake” or something  just as hateful and mean spirited.  Talking doesn’t work, because you simply cannot trust your efforts to do any good except for the well connected, well funded, well off politicians who we elect and betray WE THE PEOPLE almost all of the time for their own selfish, get reelected interests, and those of their friends.

    I still ache.  

  • Karl Hoff

    Sorry for your aches.You say talking doesn’t work, but I’m listening and I believe others are too. It is the selfish that get much of the attention, but not mine. You get my attention. I have long ago realized that the rich don’t need our praise………they need our help. I spend much of my time trying to make up new phrases to show them what we all know and that is that wealth is bad for those that don’t have it, it is bad for our environment, and it causes much bitterness between the rich and poor. I often think if I hit the mother-load, all I need is to pay that huge fee to start a bank, then I would give 0% interest to those who put their money in the bank and charge 0% on loans. Why would that stop the rich banks from getting richer? They make their money on high interest. I would need to make no interest, rememberI hit the mother-load. And you guessed it. Cut off their income & you create a world that no longer needs credit because the reason people needed it was because the rich took all the money that would soon be in the hands of all rather than a few.

  • Mark Z

    I appreciated, as always, seeing and hearing Kathleen Hall Jamieson. However, I wish you had asked her to respond to statements from the left regarding the “Grand Bargain” that Obama and Boehner almost made, saying that Obama was prepared to give up way too much. I felt it was important for her to analyze those statements in the light of the failure to reach any real agreement. Perhaps the next time she’s on the program, you could ask her. I would appreciate that!

  • Hopie

    Bill, what I love about your show are the interviews with people who offer alternatives, hope and often, humor. I just don’t find Kathleen Hall Jamieson doing any of the above. Almost anyone can find fault with contemporary politics, especially campaigning, and indeed there is much to find. But rather than succumb to woeful proposals and suggesting that Simpson Bowles had it all correct, (When Social Security is called an entitlement and offered in exchange for maintaining lower taxes, it failed.) then I have doubts about her perspectives.  I’m focusing on our local elections and Bernie Sanders Progressive Budget. Pie in the sky perhaps, but much more hopeful than Jamieson’s dour view of our future.

  • Nagus

    I was already planning on writing in the names of Alan Simpson  and Erskine Bowles for President and Vice President in the 2012 President election.   I want my leaders to tell us the truth.

    I am sick of both the Democrats and Republicans not working together to insure America’s future but rather denigrate each other for political advantage and keeping their jobs at the expense of future generations.

    Einstein said:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results”  …..  along with “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

  • John Earl
  • lgfromillinois

    I find Katheleen Hall Jamieson’s comments fair and balanced.  Neither major party candidate gives us solid analysis and proposals to ameliorate current adverse economic conditions.  It is sorry state when candidates believe saying the hard answers to problems is not a positive election strategy.

  • Justintime

    Not just election media our daily media

    This is why its RT TV on the you tube that is truth to power

    Max Keiser , Lauren and Alyona 

  • David F., N.A.

     Thanks for providing the link to Glenn Kessler’s article at thinkprogress.  It  agrees with Jamieson’s findings.

    The Koch video rightly dings Cutter for labeling them as “oil billionaires,” noting that “Koch companies have a broad portfolio of businesses, including energy and chemicals used in manufacturing, fertilizer, pollution control, and more — oil refining is just one part of what we do.”  But the rest of the video is basically one long non sequitur.

  • John Earl

    David, the TP Progress article does not support Jamieson’s statement!

    It said: Koch Industries has produced its own video claiming it doesn’t deserve the label of a secretive Big Oil corporation.Shockingly, and the Washington Post have taken up Koch’s wrote that despite Koch’s $100 billion revenue, the corporation’s diverse holdings mean “it is hardly in the league of the truly ‘big oil’companies.” The Washington Post Factcheckertook the same angle.While it’s true the most profitable U.S. corporations — ExxonMobil and Chevron — are larger than Koch, using this standard to claim the company isn’t Big Oil is incorrect.

  • Donald Shank

    As long as we have a campaign system driven by large cash donations and media advertising blitzes, we will continue to see our elections driven by deceptive statements and attack ads. I liked Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s  idea of having regular Sunday night interviews with the candidates, especially if the interviewers come from third party, non-partisan groups like the League of  Women Voters. I’d like to see the presidential debates moderated in the same way. How can we trust members of the commercial media to moderate against deceptive claims and false, misleading or irrelevant attacks when their corporations are the immediate beneficiaries of the tidal wave of cash that is flooding our political process?

  • Ford Prefect

    Indeed, we can’t trust any of it, for precisely the reasons you cite.

    We’re talking about billions of dollars in ad revenues alone. We’re also talking about six corporations, with interlocking directorships to some extent, owning 85+% of the nation’s media outlets (thanks to Bill Clinton’s Telecom Act of ’96!). One cannot speak of “media” without talking about the corporate interests that own that media. 

    It’s no accident that the LoWV essentially disappeared from the “debate” landscape following the Telecom Act of ’96. All national “debate” became nothing less than a form of corporate agenda-setting. The LoWV was disowned by both parties for largely that reason.

    Everyone in politics understands perfectly well who butters their bread. Everyone in politics understands the interests, above all else.

    It’s perfectly clear that We The People simply don’t count in any of it. Perhaps that’s ultimately where the lack of trust originates…… 

  • Chris Lowe

    We don’t need hard answers, we need truth.  Professor Jamieson in this instance was promoting lies about Social Security (Simpson-Bowles simply lies about it) and accepts the framing that other problems are a revenue vs. tax “balance” when in fact key issues like Medicare should be solved with structural re-organization, specifically single payer Improved Medicare for All which would redress Medicare’s problems as a high-risk pool by creating a universal risk pool and cutting out massive private bureaucratic waste needed to administer private health insurance, while creating leverage to change physician compensation and make provider pricing transparent by ending cost-shifting.  Health care is a human right!  Everybody In, Nobody Out!  Good jobs, not cuts!

  • Chris Lowe

    Simpson-Bowles lie about Social Security and have the wrong answer on Medicare, the right one is Improved Medicare for All, single payer structural reform of health care.  

  • Chris Lowe

    I was deeply disappointed that Bill Moyers appeared not just to be polite in listening to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, which I expect from his unfailing courtesy, but to agree with her false assertions about what constitutes realism and hard choices.  Simpson and Bowles have lied flat out about Social Security.  It was sad to see Bill apparently promoting the Pete Peterson agenda.  

    As for Medicare, the real answer there is full structural reform of health care and including seniors in a universal social insurance risk pool (rather than institutionalizing adverse selection for the profit of private insurers) administered by an efficient public single payer system, cutting out the hugely wasteful private bureaucracy needed to administer fragmented and incomplete private insurance and billing at the insurance companies, the doctors’ offices, the hospitals and employer personnel departments.  Such a system would also create the leverage to reform provider compensation and health care delivery.  

    I think Bill Moyers knows this, and has publicly supported such reform.  His other guest, Rose Ann Demoro, certainly does, as National Nurses United is one of the most energetic national forces for single payer health care reform.  I believe she has even been a guest on a past show on exactly that topic.  Demoro is one of my heroes.  

  • John Earl

    I thought she was wrong to put Simpson-Bowles in a centrist category. It’s actually a pretty conservative approach. I prefer the practical ideas of Bernie Sanders and The Progressive Caucus. In a sane world those viewpoints which are very sensible would be mainstream but the political paradigm has shifted so far to the right that there is no real center.

  • Chris Lowe

    Well said.

  • Anonymous

    I like Hall Jameson, but it really bugs me when people talk what’s going to be cut and what’s not exclusively in the context of social programs.

    Why not apply those same questions to defense and corporate welfare?

    Over half a trillion dollars—60 percent of the total annual budget—goes to defence. Homeland Security, a bloated bureaucracy invented by Bush-Cheney in their hysterical response to 9/11, received over $47 billion in 2011 and requested a budget of $57 billion for 2012—a $10bn raise perhaps to throw a party to celebrate the death of bin
    Laden and the near demise of al Qaeda.

    Corporate farm subsidies and subsidies to Big Oil should go, while protecting social programs—even increasing the ones that go to the most needy. Subsidies to oil and farming would cover these additional costs at least ten times over.

    In 2011, corporate farms received $16 billion in aid. The most controversial of these programs are the $5 billion in annual so-called direct payments to farmers of corn, soybeans and other crops, awarded simply for owning tillable farm land, even if they do not plant on it.

    The American Coalition for Ethanol estimates that when combined with state and local government aid to large oil companies, subsidies amount to anywhere from $133.8 billion to $280.8 billion annually from all sources of taxpayer aid that goes to the oil and gas industry. The three largest oil companies combined made $80 billion in profits in 2011, which amounts to $200 million PER DAY.

    Hall Jameson is a media specialist. Perhaps Bill should invite a welfare specialist to compare the two welfare programs.

  • John Earl

    I’ve been reading William Hartung’s book “Prophets Of War” about the military-industrial complex, which is based on the incestuous relation of Lockheed Martin to the US government.It seemed that the big problem with Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform” was that it demonized poor women but failed to deal with the real “welfare queens” of corporate welfare. The book is replete with stories about excess in defense procurement. As the world’s major arms merchant, the United States has made low rate loan guarantees to other countries so that they were able to purchase weapons manufactured by US companies without any reasonable expectation of those loans being repaid. In other words our tax dollars have enriched defense industries by buying weapon systems for other countries. The expansion of NATO into former Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe was seen as a enormous opportunity for defense industries to reap profits by replacing Soviet aircraft and other equipment with with systems compatible with those of NATO member states. Of course the Clinton administration signed on to a loan guarantee.While moving poor women off the welfare roles and subsidizing arms sales, the Clinton administration was providing potentially lucrative new avenues for profits to defense industries  such as Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin’s attempt to be social services provider by screening applicants for food stamps, welfare and Medicaid  through the Texas Integrated Enrollment System ultimately wound up in controversy. One of the ads run by the Texas State Employees Union had the sound of a toilet flushing with a voiceover that said, “Remember the company that brought us the $3,000 toilet seat? Now they want to run public services in Texas.” As a result of a public outcry the Clinton administration denied a federal waiver to Texas to allow a private firm to determine eligibility for cash assistance, food stamps and Medicaid.All privatization of government services ( the military, the prisons, schools, etc. ) is essentially corporate welfare. The fact that the biggest welfare queens of all, those in the military-industrial complex, have coveted a piece of the action should come as no surprise.

  • David F., N.A.

    Sorry for not replying earlier. 

    Your right, I got a little click-happy and posted a WaPo statement.

    I read through all of Leber’s claims again and not one of them would I consider as being Big Oil.  Her last sentence explains why her article is misleading though.  She sees influence as a factor in determining Big Oil, where as I, and probably Jamieson, only consider production.

  • John Earl

    The Leber article has this information:

    The Koch brothers’ net worth tops $50 billion and they have pledged to spend $60 million to defeat President Barack Obama, according to the Huffington Post.
    The Koch PAC is the largest oil and gas contributor — donating more than even ExxonMobil — spending over $1 million in each of the last two cycles. This cycle, it has spent almost $750,000. Koch Industries sends 90 percent of these contributions to Republicans.
    It’s the fourth-largest lobbyist in the oil and gas industry, spending$2,300,000 so far in 2012 and over $8 million in 2011.
    Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year, based on the assumption that Koch emits the same amount of greenhouse pollution per billion dollars in revenue as Exxon and Chevron.
    Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year. This company is responsible for up to five percent of the U.S. 7-gigaton carbon footprint.
    Koch says itself that the company is on par with big banks and is among the world’s top five oil speculators.Koch is a major player in driving up gas prices through speculation, hurting American consumers. ThinkProgress reported that in 2008, Koch leased four supertankers to hold oil in the Gulf, leading to a gas price increase anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon at the time.According to Inside Climate News, Koch industries “has touched virtually every aspect of the tar sands industry since the company established a toehold in Canada more than 50 years ago.” It is active in mining Canada’s tar sands and exporting to the U.S., and is active in Canadian politics, with half a million dollars in donations between 2007-2010.As reporters consider these factors, Koch has been widely reported as a Big Oil corporation by media outlets like Politico, Forbes, NPR, and Politifact.

  • David F., N.A.

    Only 2 of Leber’s 9 points show any numbers, the rest deal with influence and speculation, and have nothing to do with oil production or sales.

    Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year, based on the assumption that Koch emits the same amount of greenhouse pollution per billion dollars in revenue as Exxon and Chevron.

    Flint Hills Resources, a Koch subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year. This company is responsible for up to five percent of the U.S. 7-gigaton carbon footprint.

    While the first point is based on an assumption (comparing greenhouse pollution per billion dollars in revenue), they both only deal with carbon footprints and says nothing about production or sales either. Plus Leber provides a link to justify the second point, but then I found that she had omitted a very important portion.  She removed “pipeline, chemical, fertilizer, cattle, and forestry operations.”

    Flint Hills Resources, Koch’s refining subsidiary, processes 300 million barrels of oil a year. This one company “” with its refining, pipeline, chemical, fertilizer, cattle, and forestry operations “” is involved in up to five percent of the entire United States 7-gigaton carbon footprint.

    If I were to rate her article, I’d give it a half-truth.

  • David F., N.A.

     The link that Leber used to referenced “Flint Hills Resources…processes 300 million barrels of oil a year” doesn’t provide a link or footnote to where they got that figure, and I can’t find it at either.  But I was able to find an Exxon/Mobil report.  It says that they produced 1623 million barrels (4,447 thousand barrels per day) of Oil-equivalent production in 2010.  So maybe this is why Jamieson thinks that 300 million barrels per year as being relatively small.  Plus what determines the figure for determining Big Oil, this is all subjective I guess.

  • David F., N.A.
  • Brian kilpatrick

    I would like a debate moderator to ask this” if you could choose 3 goals that are measurable in the next 4 years , like the deficit or unemployment is, what would those goals be? This is a question that is important enough that I would like them to present their answer at the beginning of the next debate. I was a successfull businessman and I had to prepare those goals every year and was judged by my measurable results each years.