Those of us who continue to expect the mainstream media to uphold their constitutionally appointed role as government watchdog must be a masochistic bunch. Even allowing for the constant barrage of lies on Fox News, the constant stream of inanity on CNN and the hackery of a once-respected Harvard history professor publishing Republican propaganda in a cover story for Newsweek, the single most aggravating example of the press’s lack of interest in keeping anyone honest anymore is this: Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s political “Fact Checker” columnist, cannot be bothered with facts.
Don’t take my word for it. Take his. Paul Ryan’s convention speech from Tampa—which even former Bush consultant Matthew Dowd admitted repeatedly “stretched the truth”—was explicitly given a pass by Kessler beneath the headline: “The truth? C’mon, this is a political convention.”
Kessler’s column demonstrates much of what is wrong with the MSM at their most elite level. In his defense of Ryan’s now well-documented distortions, for instance, Kessler writes, “The whole point is for the party to put its best foot forward to the American people. By its very nature, that means downplaying unpleasant facts, highlighting the positive and knocking down the opposing team.” Kessler never explains why this is impossible to do without, say, offering a deliberately dishonest timeline regarding the closing of a GM factory. It’s as if the entire notion of “truth” is some quaint and outdated notion with which sophisticates like the Washington Post’s “fact-checker” can no longer be bothered.
Kessler does admit to finding the first night of the Republican convention “a bit odd, since it was devoted to the political exploitation of a single Obama gaffe—‘You didn’t build that’—the Republicans blatantly misrepresent.” By using the word “gaffe,” however, Kessler implies that President Obama misspoke when he used that phrase. Yet according to any remotely sensible interpretation of Obama’s now infamous words, the “that” refers not to the businesses themselves (as the Republicans, Fox News and much of the mainstream media pretend it did) but to the physical infrastructure that makes commerce possible. The purposeful misinterpretation of such a statement through the use of doctored video ought to be exactly the kind of distortion that a “fact-checker” like Kessler undertakes to correct. Instead, he chose to find fault with the victim of this dishonest attack.
Kessler speculates that “Ryan was so quickly labeled a fibber by the Obama campaign that one suspects it was a deliberate effort to tear down his reputation as a policy expert, similar to using attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital record to undermine his reputation as a skilled business executive.” Amazingly, Kessler doesn’t even pause to consider the possibility that Ryan was “so quickly labeled a fibber” because he was fibbing.