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.”Rucker’s report perfectly tracks that second highlighted passage.
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!’”
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?