Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Washington Post Columnist Ignores His Own Paper's Fact Checker

Newspapers and other media sources insist that their mission is to keep Americans well-informed and cognizant of the facts.  Those tasks fall to editors, who are supposed to exercise discretion and judgment on articles that appear in their publication.  The Washington Post even employs a well-read fact checker, Glenn Kessler, who receives both praise and scorn from both sides depending on whose ox he’s goring at the moment, but one in whom the editors apparently have confidence.

That brings us to today’s column from Eugene Robinson.  Robinson picks up on a MarketWatch report to accuse Mitt Romney of “lies” in his campaigning and of distorting the truth:
There are those who tell the truth. There are those who distort the truth. And then there’s Mitt Romney.

Every political campaign exaggerates and dissembles. This practice may not be admirable — it’s surely one reason so many Americans are disenchanted with politics — but it’s something we’ve all come to expect. Candidates claim the right to make any boast or accusation as long as there’s a kernel of veracity in there somewhere.

Even by this lax standard, Romney too often fails. Not to put too fine a point on it, he lies. Quite a bit.

“Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history,” Romney claims on his campaign Web site. This is utterly false. The truth is that spending has slowed markedly under Obama.

An analysis published last week by MarketWatch, a financial news Web site owned by Dow Jones & Co., compared the yearly growth of federal spending under presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. Citing figures from the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, MarketWatch concluded that “there has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.”
Now, this statement sounds pretty strong, only … the same newspaper that published it today debunked that claim last week.  Glenn Kessler gave the Obama campaign three Pinocchios for adopting MarketWatch’s flawed analysis:

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