In today’s NYT, Paul Krugman (sorry, TimesSelect) talks about the effect of the Little Lie on media discourse and perceptions of an administration:
The Clinton years were a parade of fake scandals: Whitewater, Troopergate, Travelgate, Filegate, Christmas-card-gate. At the end, there were false claims that Clinton staff members trashed the White House on their way out.
Each pseudoscandal got headlines, air time and finger-wagging from the talking heads. The eventual discovery in each case that there was no there there, if reported at all, received far less attention. The effect was to make an administration that was, in fact, pretty honest and well run — especially compared with its successor — seem mired in scandal.
And indeed, that’s part of what happened with the hazing of Deval Patrick the first few months. I have not, nor am I going to claim he and his staff have done everything right. But there has indeed been a drip-drip-drip of fake scandal pumped out by the media, full of insinuations with no follow-up. Have we heard any follow-up on that oh-so-shady Mr. Buckley, who’s trying to weasel his way into a pension by actually working three more years, up to age 73? Any follow-up from the RomneyHacks on Suzanne Bump?
Luckily, most folks seem to be able to discern what’s a real issue from what isn’t. I hope the local muckrakerati are paying attention.