Here we see a quick, blatant lie–but nuanced enough that we should walk through it slowly. Franken falsely claimed that Ann Coulter “makes shit up,” citing this example:
From page 134 of Slander: “Even during the media’s nightly flogging of Iran-Contra, Reagan’s approval ratings fell only 5 percentage points, from 80 percent to 75 percent.” Her endnote cites a Christian Science Monitor article from January 7, 1987. The article reports that “in last month’s Gallup poll, Reagan’s approval rating fell from 63 percent to 47 percent.” And remember, this is from people who are not only Christian, but also scientists.
So that’s how you lie with footnotes. Disgusting, huh?
Let’s think about this. If what Franken is claiming were true, why would Coulter cite the article at all? It would be like Franken citing LyingLiar.com, or Mitt Romney’s opponents citing whyromney.com.
That gives us at least some reason to be skeptical of what he is telling us. So let’s explore a hypothetical. Let’s say Coulter got the numbers from the article, just as she claimed. That would mean she was not actually lying. It would mean that Franken was lying when he accused her of making it up.
All right, it sounds plausible. Let us do a little research.
This is what Coulter said in her book:
The irrevocable fact that the American people adored Reagan posed a problem for liberals. They had very clearly
explained that Reagan was dumb, mean-spirited, frightening and so on. But, still, Americans loved him. Even during the media’s nightly flogging of Iran-Contra, Reagan’s approval ratings fell only 5 percentage points, from 80 percent to 75 percent.
Let’s see if we have this right. Coulter was talking about how the American people felt toward their President. She was making the case that, no matter what the headlines of the stories read, people still loved Reagan. Right? Right. Keep this in mind.
Now what about the article, does it not prove her wrong?
The article, from the Christian Science Monitor, was about how things were looking good for Reagan. Now, you might ask, why would an article that shows a huge rating drop for someone make the case that things are looking good for him? Because the article discredits the 63 percent to 47 percent drop. That particular poll represented the way people felt due to the Iran-Contra headlines. The article points out that there was another poll. According to the article
the second [poll] reflects the public’s actual feelings toward the President.
As you might guess, the President’s rating in the second poll–the one relevant to the point Coulter was making–fell from 80 to 75 percent. Those are the same as the numbers Coulter supposedly “made up”.