The Assault on Paul Ryan
An acquaintance who has been watching the increasingly absurd sophistry of the Politifacters observes that "fact checking" is to journalism what leeches were to medicine, a comparison that works well on several levels.
The mainstream media “fact checked” Paul Ryan’s speech with alacrity. At the Washington Post, for instance, four of the five most-read articles were, in effect, accusations that Ryan had lied. The New York Times published an article under the headline: “Ryan’s Speech Contained a Litany of Falsehoods.” The Associated Press accused Ryan of taking “factual shortcuts.” The Week magazine published not only “The media coverage of Paul Ryan’s speech: 15 Euphemisms for Lying,” but also “Why Paul Ryan thought he could get away with lying: 6 theories.”
Here’s the funny thing about most of these articles: They fail to cite a single fact that Ryan misstated or lie that he told. In most cases, the self-described fact-checks are little more than complaints that Ryan failed to provide context for his criticism of Barack Obama. For example, virtually every one of these articles included a complaint about Ryan’s comments on Obama and entitlement reform. In accusing Obama of failing to lead on entitlements, Ryan noted that Obama had ignored the findings of the Simpson-Bowles Commission that the president himself had empaneled. The complaint: Ryan did not mention that he had served on the commission and voted against its findings.
Following those links is an interesting exercise. Ryan is universally condemned for mentioning that an auto plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, was shut down during Obama's presidency the year after candidate Obama had vowed that the plant would be there another century. "The plant was closed in December 2008, before Obama was sworn in," Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote. But Kessler and his fellow fact-checkers turned out to have been wrong; the plant did close in 2009.