Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hyman Places a Secret Hold on the Truth

In his most recent editorial, Hyman makes a vague attempt at bipartisanship, but either through overt misleading of his audience or simple sloppiness, he ends up slandering (yet again) two of his favorite liberal targets.

Hyman editorializes in favor of an amendment that would end the practice of “secret holds” in the Senate, a practice that allows any senator to anonymously hold up a piece of legislation or a nomination. The amendment allows senators to place holds, but requires that they do so publicly. The amendment passed by a vote of 84-13.

Hyman makes a point of mentioning that all of those voting against eliminating secret holds were Republicans. It’s not surprising the GOP would oppose this bit of sunshine legislation. During the Clinton administration, prominent Republicans
used secret holds to delay votes on Clinton judicial nominees they didn’t like. Despite Republican caterwauling about the possibility of Democrats filibustering the nominations of right wing judges by Bush, the fact is that the filibuster is something done in public. Senators are making a public stand. But when the GOP was opposing Clinton nominations, they often resorted to the stealth tactic of secret holds to avoid taking responsibility for their obstructionist actions.

So Hyman’s pointed reference to GOP opponents of an amendment that would end secret holds would seem to be a case of a conservative commentator rising, however minutely, above mere partisan politics (granting, however, that most Republicans voted for the amendment along with all Democrats).

But not so fast. First, Hyman claims there is a link on the website that will take viewers to a roll call of the vote on the amendment so they can see who voted for keeping secret holds (the better to hold senators accountable). But the link doesn’t go to the vote on the amendment. Instead, it goes to a vote on cloture (limiting debate) concerning the amendment. This vote included Democrats and Republicans among both the yeas and nays. You can find the actual vote on the amendment itself

Perhaps this is simply an honest mistake. After all, there are often lots of votes regarding a specific amendment, and it would be fairly easy to mistake a procedural vote for the actual up-or-down vote on the amendment.

But there’s an even worse “mistake” Hyman makes in the editorial. He says that the issue of secret holds:

“came to a head last year when it was learned that Senators Ted Kennedy and John
Kerry placed secret holds on this year's Intelligence Authorization Act. For the
first time in 30 years, the act was not passed.”

Hyman is simply dead wrong on this. Yes, a secret hold was placed on the Intelligence Authorization Act, but it was placed by an unknown Republican senator, not Kennedy or Kerry. The GOP senator held up the act in response to proposed amendments by Kennedy and Kerry (amendments proposed publicly and open to public debate). Neither of the Massachusetts Democrats placed a hold of any sort on the legislation. On the contrary, they were actively participating in the debate and amending process of the bill.

How could Hyman make such a mistake? Perhaps he did a hasty Google search and came across a speech by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions in which Sessions, defending the use of secret holds, made the bizarre suggestion that in proposing their amendments, Kennedy and Kerry were actually responsible for the holdup of the legislation, not the unknown GOP Senator who actually placed the hold. (Those darn Democrats—always trying to actually participate in the legislative process!) By the way, Sessions was one of the 13 senators who voted to keep secret holds in place.

Or perhaps it wasn't a mistake and Hyman knew exactly what he was doing: intentionally misleading viewers in order to slander both Kennedy and Kerry. Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time.

Whether unconscionably sloppy or simply deceitful, Hyman’s editorial is an example of what is wrong about “The Point” on a deeper level than simple political ideology; it’s a shoddy product being foisted off on viewers through the airwaves that we, the people, own.

If you would like to write to Hyman to tell him we deserve better than editorials that are diametrically opposed to the truth (and that he owes an apology to Kennedy and Kerry), you can reach him at the following email address: You can also respond on the website. Perhaps we can get him to make an on-air retraction.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

By the way, here are the names of the Republican senators who voted to keep secret holds in place:

Allard (R-CO)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Frist (R-TN)
Gregg (R-NH)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)

Hyman Index: Incalculable, since propaganda involves the shading or spinning of the truth. In this case, we simply have one huge, bald-faced lie.


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