Issue #354

Tom Cotton and the era of post-truth politics

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

A couple of years ago, Mitt Romney developed a bad habit. As part of his national campaign, the Republican nominee would attack President Obama over some perceived failing. Then the attack would be fact-checked and be proven wrong. Romney, confronted with proof that he was lying, would repeat the claim anyway, convinced that it didn’t matter whether he told the truth or not. It happened over and over and over again. It reinforced a dangerous development: the era of post-truth politics. Two years later, the phenomenon hasn’t gone away. In Arkansas last week, Rep. Tom Cotton (R), his party’s U.S. Senate nominee, was caught in one of the most brazen lies of the 2014 campaign season. The right-wing congressman claimed he voted against this year’s Farm Bill because President Obama “hijacked” it, “turned it into a food-stamp bill,” and added “billions more in spending.” As a factual matter, literally none of this is even remotely true, and fact-checkers came down hard on such shameless dishonesty—all of which might matter if Cotton gave a darn. But as Peter Urban has reported, the congressman just doesn’t care about getting caught. MSNBC, 9-26-14.

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