A new poll is out, on honesty and ethics in government. It shows how well the public understands what has been going on for the last five years (not). (Yes, the same public that thinks Iraq was behind 9/11.) See White House Ethics, Honesty Questioned. Some items from the article:
…nearly half say the overall level of honesty and ethics in the federal government has fallen since President Bush took office
Which means that more than half don’t think the level of honesty and ethics have fallen under Bush.
55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems “with ethical wrongdoing” in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an “isolated incident.” And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.
. . . A majority — 55 percent — said the decision of Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to bring charges against Libby was based on the facts of the case, while 30 percent said he was motivated by partisan politics.
. . . While a large majority of Democrats (76 percent) said the case is a sign of broader ethical problems in the administration, an equally large majority of Republicans (69 percent) said it was an isolated matter. Most Republicans continued to give Bush high marks for his handling of ethics in government, while Democrats overwhelmingly graded him poorly. [emphasis added]
The effect of the manipulation of our information sources is clear. The pubic is confused, doesn’t know who to believe, and many take an “everyone does it” view, which is intentionally reinforced by those who benefit.
I remember back in Clinton’s first year, when Newsweek conducted a poll that found that most of the public thought his budget raised taxes on lower and middle incomes but nowhere in that or any following issue explained that the budget did not. Newsweek, supposedly in the business of informing the public, reported that the pubic was misinformed, yet did nothing to correct the misinformation. And so here we are…