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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Fact Check Double Standard On Display Again

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The "fact-checkers" who were so ferocious with Paul Ryan last week, wimp out on uber-lefty Elizabeth Warren, despite her whoppers.


For six days and counting (including Tuesday morning), the broadcast networks entertained the idea that Paul Ryan was lying in his convention speech last week. Yet the problem for journalists was that Ryan’s speech was accurate, even if they didn’t like the implications. NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday evening’s Nightly News, for example, even conceded that “what he [Ryan] said many times was technically factual,” but grumbled that “by what he left out,” he “actually distorted the actual truth.”

Such a sensitive standard means journalists could endlessly complain, since even truthful speeches or TV ads necessarily omit information detrimental to their campaign objective. The question is, will journalists be so sensitive when liberal Democrats take liberties with their campaign rhetoric?

Fast forward to this morning, when in interviews on ABC, CBS and NBC’s morning shows, Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren described the GOP’s economic plan as including a tax increase on the middle class: “Mitt Romney says the way to fix this is cut taxes for the richest Americans and for the biggest corporations [and] increase taxes for the middle class.”

That’s not just an interpretive stretch, that’s false. Romney has said the precise opposite, including in an interview with Forbes magazine last month: “We are not going reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income individuals, and we’re certainly not going to increase the taxes paid by middle-income taxpayers.... I will under no circumstances raise taxes on the middle class.”

Yet none of the reporters who fixated on fact-checking Ryan and the Republicans pushed back in any way against Warren’s false statement, variations of which she delivered on all three morning shows on Tuesday:

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