Did John Sununu strong-arm the Post?


A bad report gets worse: Directly below, we discuss Philip Rucker’s astoundingly awful news report at the Washington Post.

Accurately but misleadingly, Mitt Romney said that 47 percent of adults pay no federal income tax. In his news report, Rucker never quotes this remark by Romney. He offers no background information about who pays federal taxes.

Instead, Rucker quotes a New Hampshire voter saying that 47 percent of adults pay no taxes at all. This remark is plainly false, but it goes uncorrected.

Why would Rucker present such a news report? Assuming Joan Walsh’s account is accurate, we may have our answer!

At Salon, Walsh describes what John Sununu said on TV this afternoon. According to Walsh, the loud and blustery Romney spokesman told Andrea Mitchell to tell the story exactly as Rucker told it:
WALSH (9/18/12): John Sununu just went full-tilt crazy on Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, telling her the media shouldn’t be criticizing Mitt Romney’s dishonest, divisive comments about the “47 percent.” He said it should be after “a president who’s decided to run a campaign on class warfare, he attacks success.”

Sununu falsely claimed Romney was talking about polling showing that 47 percent of voters support Obama–when Romney clearly said he was talking about the 47 percent who pay no federal income taxes. Then he flipped and said Romney was talking about “the constituency that Obama’s been pandering to.” He went on to claim that in 2008, Obama “made race a divider,” and told Mitchell with a flourish, “You ought to be saying ‘Shame on you, Obama!’”
Rucker’s report perfectly tracks that second highlighted passage.

On the videotape in question, Romney did say that 47 percent of voters support Obama. But Rucker only mentioned that part of Romney’s remarks in his news report.

As if under Sununu’s direction, Rucker didn’t mention what Romney said about people not paying income taxes. Instead, he quoted that New Hampshire man making an inaccurate statement.

Rucker’s report is astoundingly bad—except as a version of the script Sununu dictated to Mitchell. Did Sununu stamp his foot at Rucker too?

Does Rucker’s editor care? Does the Post still employ such people?


  1. It's just a quibble, but when Bob wrote,
    As if under Sununu’s direction...,
    I believe he meant,
    As if under the direction of Walsh's version of what Sununu said...

    1. David, you don't have to guess whether "Walsh's version" is correct. The clips of the Mitchell-Sununu exchange are all over the 'net.

      But then again, you were never one to allow the easily obtainable truth get in your spin.

  2. "I believe he meant ..."

    Mindreader, are you?

    1. NO, we are apparently meant to worry that Walsh may have mischaracterized Sununu.

      Possible, but David isn't first to the punch there.

      "Assuming Joan Walsh’s account is accurate..."

      I'm just quoting the article.

      I'll assume that David has no reason to believe Walsh was actually wrong about Sununu's statements, or else he'd not be shy about saying so.

      He's just being a weasely troll.

    2. I happened to catch Sununu on Mitchell today and, like Walsh, could not believe the brazen, incoherent lies he was spouting. I haven't checked the transcript, but Walsh seems to be to have gotten right here the part of the exchange I listened to. Mitchell didn't directly challenge Sununu in the part I watched (I couldn't bear to watch it all), but she didn't have to: her body language screamed astonishment.

    3. 8:20, my jaw also dropped at Bob's "Assuming Joan Walsh's account is accurate . . ."

      Apparently, he is too lazy to do a simple Google video search and find out for himself.

      By the way, the only possible reason I can imagine for the GOP to keep sending out the increasingly unhinged Sununu as a surrogate is that he makes the rest of the GOP look sane by comparison.

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  4. Ah, WaPo.

    Living up (down?) to its nickname of "Fox on 15th St."