Back to the Facts

Conservative commentators question whether news spinning by the likes of Fox News mislead their audience into believing Mitt Romney would win in a landslide.Expecting the truth is an important as telling the truth, as evidenced by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's apparent shock that he lost an election he thought was in the bag.

Right-wing political spin-masters convinced themselves — or chose to believe — that credible polling and poll analysis, such as provided by The New York Times' Nate Silver, was "lame stream media" misinformation. They snarked that it was foolish, based on what happened in the 2010 elections, to use polling samples showing more Democrats voting than Republicans.

They were dreadfully wrong.

How else could big-time politicos such as Newt Gingrich, Dick Morris and Karl Rove predict Romney would capture up to 53 percent of the popular vote and more than 300 electoral votes? Or columnist George Will and political analyst (and former pollster) Michael Barone foresee a Romney landslide?

Conservator commentators have leveled criticism at the likes of Fox News for cheerleading instead of reporting. This is exactly the complaint made against public relations professionals who try to spin facts instead of tell the truth.

David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, told NPR, "The conservative followership has been fleeced, exploited and lied to by the conservative entertainment complex."

Byron York, chief political correspondent for the conservative Washington Examiner, noted that Romney supporters in Boston seemed stunned by news their man had lost, especially in critical battleground states such as Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia. York concluded Republicans backed themselves into corner and were unable to question their own assumptions.

Donald Trump tweeted that well-heeled contributors to Rove's SuperPac should get a refund.

Political campaigns foster inflated beliefs, if nothing else to buttress candidates who face the bruising exercise everyday of confronting voters, special interest groups and the media. But the truth remains the undiluted elixir to endure campaign rigors.

As the old saying goes, it is okay to have your own opinions, but not your own facts. Voters and, ultimately, the country will benefit if candidates, their campaign staffs and the media agree to basic facts.

Conviction is a good thing, but believing you are right and ignoring facts to the contrary makes people vulnerable to the wiles of propaganda.

Many PR professionals are examining their own practices and integrity on truth-telling. Their political counterparts should join the same self-examination.