Robinson’s statement permitted to stand!


At the Post, still no correction: On Tuesday morning, Gene Robinson made a plain misstatement.

Robinson is a Pulitzer winner. His claim appeared in the Washington Post. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/7/12:
ROBINSON (8/7/12): Romney did release his 2010 tax return, and he promises to release the full 2011 return when it is completed. No recent presidential candidate has tried to get away with such meager disclosure.
Please. Surely, Robinson knows the highlighted statement is wrong. But so what? Two days have passed, and the Washington Post has issued no correction. No correction appears in the Nexis archive. No correction has been affixed to Robinson's column on-line.

Robinson’s inaccurate claim helps him advance an argument he prefers. Pulitzer winners (and others) are permitted to do that. The truth doesn’t have to appear.

Since Robinson’s column appeared, we have seen at least three other major liberals making the same bogus statement. Remember what Tom Schaller recently wrote? “Despite an earnest Google search,” he said he had “failed to find any comparable examples of political or societal ignorance that favor the left.”

“Comparable” is a useful term. To review Schaller’s claim, just click here.

The Post does issue corrections: It isn’t like the Washington Post doesn’t do corrections. This morning, in its suburban edition, it offers this inoffensive pair:
WASHINGTON POST CORRECTIONS (8/9/12): In some Aug. 8 editions, a photo caption with the continuation of a Page One article about two children caught up in the attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin misidentified a woman at a vigil in Rockville. She is Chhavi Bhargava of Oakton.

A photo caption with an Aug. 8 Sports article about the University of Maryland football team's training camp said that junior quarterback C.J. Brown attended Seneca Valley High School. It should have made clear that the school is not the one in Germantown. It is in Harmony, Pa.
“The Washington Post is committed to correcting errors that appear in the newspaper,” the paper claims, beneath those corrections.

Maybe the Washington Post should just correct that statement!


  1. On Wednesday, The Howler made a plain misstatement about a Priorities USA ad, calling it an Obama ad. Maybe the Howler should correct that statement.

    1. Maybe.

      But it would be the type of minor, irrelevant correction ridiculed at the end of this post.

      On Wednesday the Daily Howler referred to an ad produced in support of Obama. The ad was not produced by Obama's campaign, but by a PAC supporting the president's re-election.

      Was the error "an inaccurate claim helps him advance an argument he prefers?"


      Making the minor correction does nothing to change or undermine the argument.

      (The argument was: Liberals should not shy from demanding full accuracy in ads supporting liberal causes. The argument doesn't rely at all on those ads being by the president.)

      By contrast, correcting Robinson's statement would undermine his argument.

      You're still not tired of your new toy, puppy?

      How cute!

    2. Hardly. Accusing a campaign and a candidate of false advertising when the campaign and candidate had nothing (as a matter of law) to do with it is not a "minor" error.

    3. Confused, as noted yesterday, Somerby is a lot better at setting standards for others than following them himself.

    4. "Accusing a campaign and a candidate of false advertising"

      But, of course, yesterday's post does no such thing.

    5. A standard, perhaps:

      "An inaccurate claim that helps him advance an argument he prefers" should be corrected.

      Somerby's error in calling an ad Obama's ad, rather than a pro-Obama ad by a PAC doesn't run afoul of that standard. The "claim" about the ad's provenance is not relevant to Somerby's argument (liberal fact-checkers should insist on accuracy by liberals as well as conservatives).

      But what do you seem to think is the standard?

      Apparently, it's the same old shit: Any irrelevant misstatement must be the subject of endless harangue.

      Your obsession with this trivial, inconsequential point, far from being a demonstration that "Somerby doesn't meet his own standards" is actually confirmation that you are unable to think your way out of the "gaffe" culture Somerby so often decries.

      Here, the irrelevant gaffe is Somerby's.

      You play the part of the media unable (or pretending to be unable) to see beyond it.

      Some free thinker, you!

    6. Fail again. Bob's rant was about, and I quote "Obama's ad" and the reluctance of "liberal elites" to call the Obama campaign to task for the inaccuracies therein.

    7. "Bob's rant was about the reluctance of "liberal elites" to call the Obama campaign to task for the inaccuracies"

      Nope. You're making that up.

      Which you'd have to do, since you have nothing to stand on.

      Somerby never said anyone should take the Obama campaign to task for anything at all in that post.

      Which you know, because it's just something you invented out of whole cloth.

      The post was titled "Our analysts rose from their chairs and cheered!" and was about one guy, Sam Stein.

      Stein "was suggesting that liberals should be “equal opportunity” fact-checkers! He was saying that liberals should report problems with Obama’s ads where such problems exist!"

      Somerby italicized the word "Obama" there. But not because the ad has to be by Obama to make Somerby's argument work, no.

      Somerby wasn't merely saying, "Liberals should report problems with ads that are created by the President's campaign." Only an illiterate would believe that. Or someone who doesn't know Somerby. Or is trying to pretend (hint: that last one's you).

      No, the italicization was to draw contrast with ads supporting Romney -- ads which liberals, quite rightly, feel comfortable checking for accuracy -- whether they are the products of PACs supporting Romney or directly produced by the Romney campaign.

      You can say it was a mistake to say "Obama's ad" rather than "an ad by a PAC supporting Obama," but you can't pretend that the difference changes Somerby's argument.

      Well, I mean, you can *only* pretend.

      Anyone can see it's ridiculous.

      Keep it up! We don't mind showing you what a stumbling oaf you are.

    8. "Somerby never said anyone should take the Obama campaign to task for anything at all in that post."

      Oh really? They whose "analysts" rose from their chairs and cheered over this:

      "He (Sam Stein) was saying that liberals should report problems with Obama’s ads where such problems exist!"

      Know what? If you want to have a serious discussion, you might try honesty. Pretending that your hero didn't say what he clearly said -- and which was the whole point of a whole rant -- makes you look pretty foolish and dumb.

    9. "report problems with Obama's ads" = "take the Obama campaign to task"


      But keep trying.

      Keep pretending that you don't know what the post was about: that liberals should be “equal opportunity” fact-checkers.

      That means check the facts in "liberal" as as well as "conservative" ones.

      Only a dope like you will pretend it means: check ads that are *by* the President.

    10. You lost this one yesterday, but don't let that prevent you from losing it again today!

    11. "report problems with Obama's ads" = "take the Obama campaign to task"


      Oh, that is truly pathetic. So how on earth do you "report problems with Obama's ads" with out taking taking his campaign to task for making those errors?

      And you know what's truly funny? You can't yet admit that they WERE NOT OBAMA ADS!

      In other words, the great Somerby got a simple, fundamental, basic point WRONG no matter how you want to spin it as inconsequential.

      And here is the truly funny part. Romney's campaign DID put out a blatantly false ad about Obama and welfare. Pundits, liberal, moderate and even conservative, blasted it as blatantly false.

      Did Somerby's analyst rise and cheer? For doing what he has been calling them to do for 13 years? For the benefit of Obama?

      Nope, they rose and cheered only when one guy rushed to the defense of Romney -- "the worst candidate in history" -- whom Somerby has spent past six months defending against everything imaginable -- the "I know NASCAR owners" the cookie incident, the prep school bullying, the disinterest in his wife's Olympic accomplishments, the refusal to release tax returns while saying the wealthy like him need a tax cut.

      On and on and on. While claiming George Zimmerman got railroaded for good measure.

      And let us not forget that it is impolite to call certain elements of the Tea Party racist and crackpot. That might offend them.

      And never mind that Paul Ryan once proposed turning Medicare into a voucher program. He has a much, much better plan now.

      Sadly, Somerby's one-note bloviating got boring after a few years, and if you go check his traffic count, the Information Age has passed him by.

      So he has to reach out for a new audience while telling his old admirers that he's the same progressive he always was.

      And there are some who buy it to the point that they are down to parsing terms such as "point out problems" doesn't mean "taking to task."


      I keep hanging around hoping that the old Bob Somerby, the one who wasn't abducted to Tea Party aliens and replaced with a seed pod Bob, will return.

      But I don't know why. This blog seems to be down to a handful of "Bob never makes mistakes" sychophants, and a couple of newly attached Tea Party right-wingers who find his daily take on the vile, evil MSNBC and New York Times completely soothing.

      Though it is a great place to check on the latest defense of Mitt Romney, it is no longer a place for thoughtful analysis.

      And there are many places for that.

    12. No one can help it that you're unable to comprehend what you read, apparently. We struggle with your stupidity in vain.

      But one more time:

      It's not that Somerby didn't err -- it's that the mistake makes no difference at all to his case.

      You want it to, but it doesn't.

      So sorry for your loss.

    13. It's interesting that Anon 6:44 finds it an indictment of Somerby to have attracted conservatives who share his view of the media.

      Anon never mentions that we conservatives must also tolerate Somerby's decidedly unflattering view of our politics and our party when reading him. This is something that Anon can't brook at all when it comes his peeps, that's why he's bellyaching.

      Who's the unreasonable partisan here?

    14. "It's not that Somerby didn't err -- it's that the mistake makes no difference at all to his case."

      Right. Somerby's errors don't matter so he can make all he wants. But let Maddow say something that may be accurate but doesn't ring true to Somerby's tin ear? We get days of blog posts.

      Again, imagine this scenario. The MSNBC hosts have been all over the Romney campaign's false "welfare" ad. Suppose that had been put out by a Super PAC and they said it came from Romney's campaign. You know, the itty, bitty, inconsequential error Somerby just made about the Obama campaign.

      The question wouldn't be whether he would be riding to the rescue of the Romney campaign again, talking about how calling a Super PAC ad a campaign ad was the most egregious sin since Cain and Abel. The question would be, how many days and weeks would he stretch that out?

      And Cecelia: Since it usually takes you multiple cracks at plain English to understand a point someone else is making that doesn't precisely fit your "thinking", here it is again.

      Somerby at one time was a pioneer of politically blogging back when blogging was in its infancy. And he was one of the few places that offered alternative thought to the right-wingers who truly dominated early blogging.

      But he has barely moved on since 1998, and in fact, has really had nothing new to say for quite a few years. Meanwhile, later comers to the game like Josh Marshall have taken off and soared, and taken much of Somerby's audience with him.

      That leaves Somerby with finding a new audience. So he pretends the the hard turn to the right that he took defending Bush's "16 words" didn't happen, and he is the only "progressive" left on earth who sees the errors of both "tribes" so clearly.

      And now spends his days blogging and railing against only one small sliver of one "Tribe."

      The sin isn't that he has attracted conservatives. Robust discussion is the heart of democracy. The sin is that he has turned his blog into one that is indistinguishable from lots of right-wing blogs, including Tea Party blogs, while still claiming to be "progressive," all in attempt to attract a new audience to replace those who have left for much sharper Web sites that talk about more than MSNBC and the NYT.

    15. Speaking of plain English, Anon 8:57, you might consider your own.

      By your own words here, Somerby HAS broader out from the political polemics of his early days. That experience with the media has moved him on to analyzing the effect that the media has had upon his own, as well as the national discourse.

      Can't you ponder and enjoy BOTH Somerby and TPM?

    16. "Somerby's errors don't matter"

      No, THIS error doesn't matter.

      It's called reading comprehension.

      Ask your mom to sign you up for a course.

    17. "indistinguishable from lots of right-wing blogs"

      Then you'll be able to point out at least one that's "indistinguishable," of course.

    18. It is quite laughable that you write that Somerby getting the source of a campaign ad wrong "doesn't matter" in the very thread where he goes on and on about the terrible error Gene Robinson made when he said "No RECENT (emphasis added) presidential candidate has tried to get away with such meager disclosure."

      That's a mortal sin. But Somerby accusing the campaign of the president of the United States of putting out a false ad that it didn't put out?

      No big deal. After all, Bob's point was that the "liberal elites" don't go after Obama like they do Romney. Never mind that they had nothing to go after Obama on.

    19. "accusing the campaign of the president of the United States of putting out a false ad"

      Didn't happen.

      You're letting yourself run away.

      We expected it.

      Think it through slowly if it helps you (we know by now that it won't, but try now):

      You've got two pieces in your new insane statement:

      1) Somerby saying the ad was false, and
      2) Somerby accusing the campaign of putting it out

      Part 1 simply didn't happen. Somerby didn't declare the ad false (he remained agnostic) -- he simply praised the idea that a liberal should want to critique an ad which supported a liberal.

      Part 2 didn't happen as an accusation, like you want it to have, but as a potential gaffe. "Obama's ad" Somerby said. Which is not accurate if the meaning taken is "an ad put out by the Obama campaign." Which could well be the meaning taken. But there certainly never was an accusation: "the Obama campaign put out this ad!"

      Why not? Because, as everyone but you can see, it wasn't important to Somerby's point who the ad was BY, but rather who it SUPPORTED.

      It supported the "liberal" Obama, therefore it was important to Somerby's point that this "liberal" program would actually bother to check it for accuracy.

      You though, you don't care about accuracy. Someone who cared about accuracy might have said:

      "You know, Somerby's wording might suggest the ad was put out by Obama's campaign. But it wasn't -- it was put out by a PAC that supports his reelection.

      "Of course, that doesn't matter to Somerby's point. He's right. It is a good thing for liberals to fact-check ads that support even their own candidates."

      That would be a person who gave a shit about the issue.

      You, you're just a douchebag.

      Keep showing us how!

    20. How do I love thee, Anon 12:23 pm? Let me count the ways...

    21. "Didn't happen."

      And you have the audacity to call other people liars? SEVERAL TIMES, Bob referred to the ad that put his panties in a wad as "Obama's ad."

      And you still can't wrap your head around the fact that Robinson's statement is completely accurate. No recent candidate has tried to get away with such meager disclosure as Romney. Even McCain offered two years' worth of returns.

      Here's a hint for you. Somerby is not God. He is human and capable of human error. He made one. A pretty obvious one.

      And now he is making yet another one by trying to spin Robinson's perfectly accurate statement into something he can post about for the next week.

      Lordy, does he have a cult following though. And that's about all he's got left.

    22. "Didn't happen."

      When you can find the part where Somerby said the ad is false, you let us know, tool.

      "the ad that put his panties in a wad"

      Nope. Somerby didn't really express any opinion at all about the content of the ad.

      We can all read.

      It's only you that's having trouble with that life skill.

      "Obama's ad"

      Yup. A reference which any thinking (see, I've already excluded you) person would understand:

      "You know, Somerby's wording might suggest the ad was put out by Obama's campaign. But it wasn't -- it was put out by a PAC that supports his reelection.

      "Of course, that doesn't matter to Somerby's point. He's right. It is a good thing for liberals to fact-check ads that support even their own candidates."

      A douchebag would say, scratch that, did say, keeps saying:

      "Hey, that ad was NOT done by Obama. And nothing else matters. This isn't an attempt to praise a liberal for critiquing liberal ads. It's really an accusation against Obama!"

      You can keep it up, we know! C'mon little douchebag!! C'mon!!

  2. This post is literally correct, and Robinson should be criticized for not getting easily-found facts completely correct, but let's have some perspective here: despite the tone suggesting the whole issue is "bogus," Romney is, in fact, one of two extreme outliers. McCain only released two. Otherwise, since Reagan and Carter 32 years ago, as to the returns for the candidates themselves, these are the facts according to PolitiFact: Dole (30), Kerry (20), George H.W. Bush (14, 18), Bill Clinton (12, 16), Mondale (11), Edwards (10), George W. Bush (9, 13), Gore (8), Obama (7,11), Dukakis (6), McCain (2).

    Spouses' returns (Kerry, McCain) is a separate issue, and no case has been established that, aside from the fact that they were very wealthy, a fact not in dispute and open for consideration by the electorate, there has been any important information missing from the limited disclosure of spouses' returns, and, accordingly, that those returns were not irrelevant.

    None presented, especially when combined with the candidate's policy positions, the type of financial and tax issues that Romney's career does. To suggest that Robinson's wording is anything more than a technical foul is absurd.

    1. Don't forget, Edward M Kennedy (0) and Jimmy Carter (1).

    2. I'd also like to point out that very few candidates have claimed that the federal income tax burden on the wealthy -- the "job creators" like himself -- is so onerous that it must be cut.

      Kinda opens the question: "What's your fed income tax burden been like, Mitt?"

    3. Urban legend, how is Carter "ancient history", but Reagan is not?

      Mrs. Heinz Kerry and Mrs. McCain's taxes were not considered "irrelevant". That's why after pressure they finally agreed to at least summarize them. They never released them.

      Both wives are the wealthy parties in their marriages and their taxes returns would be far more informative as to the couple's investments, holdings, and of any practices in shielding their money from the tax man.

    4. Why does one file "Married Filing Separately"? Hmmmmmmmm........

    5. Cecilia --

      I didn't say that. 1980 is ancient history on Presidential candidates and income tax disclosure. That applies to Carter, Reagan and Ted Kennedy. Since then, over eight elections since, more disclosure -- much more, in fact -- has been the norm compared to what Romney is doing.

    6. "No recent presidential candidate has tried to get away with such meager disclosure."

      Sure they've tried to get away with it. Some have, some haven't.

      "more disclosure -- much more, in fact -- has been the norm"

      "the norm" That's different from what Robinson said...

  3. Anonymous 4:52: Mentioned Carter, and that's ancient history.

  4. I see Bob does post anonymously in the comments section, so tell us Bob, why did your post make accusations against Robinson without stating or referencing those "truths" that made them wrong. That's the way smears are structured.

    1. Sorry, just posting against an idiot doesn't transform me into Somerby.

  5. The Anonymous IdiotAugust 10, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    I can't forget, only mis-represent:

    "While claiming George Zimmerman got railroaded for good measure."

    For me, although Bob Somerby never said charges against Zimmerman were trumped-up, the mere fact that he wouldn't stop pointing out when some media were continually misstating facts in the case, consistently and always with a tilt against one party in the case, though they surely knew or should have known those "facts" were wrong, for me, that means Somerby was claiming Zimmerman was wrongly prosecuted.

    And I'll lie about that every time I bring it up.

    I bring it up thinking it shows how vile Somerby is.

    You probably agree it shows *somebody* is vile, right?

    The Anonymous Idiot (sorry -- I so often don't use my proper handle!)

    1. Right. Bob has been howling for months about poor, beat-up Zimmerman, while at the same time arguing that the errors committed by the vile MSNBC and NYT were inconsequential.

      In other, smaller words, yes, Bob apparently does believe Zimmerman has been wrongly prosecuted. You could go look it up for yourself, but then again 'tis better to make up pleasing tales you want to believe in your own head than to realize how totally petty and foolish your guru was in using the entire Trayvon Martin case to attack people he is insanely jealous of.

      You see, this is what the Howler has become. A forum for your host to rant about people on TV who are much more famous, successful and, for the most part, younger and smarter than a failed stand-up comic still stuck the corporate meeting circuit and crying for whatever attention he can get from a blog that has, at best, gone nowhere in 13 years while blogs written by others younger, smarter and more successful than he have taken off.

    2. Somerby stated that media misinformation is anything BUT inconsequential.

      In the Zimmerman case he expressly argued that it could have heightened a normal sense of outrage into the mentality behind the attempt to tweet Zimmerman's home address and death threats.

      Surely you can reckon the difference between saying that no suspect should be the victim of false info spewed out by media members intent on ginning up outrage for ratings, from a declaration of Zimmerman's innocence!

    3. "about poor, beat-up Zimmerman"

      More lies from the chief Somerby-hater liar.

      There were no instances in Somerby's coverage in which we were asked to pity Zimmerman, or to sympathize with him.

      That's because the coverage Somerby gave wasn't "about" Zimmerman at all -- a fact which everyone but you can see. It was "about" MSNBC, or the NYT, or some other press organ.

      The point was always the venality of the press lying about the case.

      You get it.

      You pretend not to.

      Because you are, not to put too fine a point on it, a troll douchebag.

      Keep keeping on!

    4. "Somerby stated that media misinformation is anything BUT inconsequential."

      Except, of course, when he is guilty of it.

    5. That's it, yeah, it was "misinformation."

      Keep plugging away, little douchebag!

  6. At least some of this treatment of Romney stuff would seem to be areas where decent people could disagree. I don't know if Bob's stand up career was a failure or not, but if he spared us one more Dennis Miller or Janeane Garofalo, we can only thank him. But the Daily Howler's weak points are plenty assailable, and we need not become personal.

    1. "We need not become personal," unless the poster in question is a serial douchebag, willfully lying and misrepresenting both the host and the comments of others, refusing to engage any argument on merits.