The coverage starts!


PART 1—SCRIPTED NOCERA: Now Paul Ryan belongs to the ages—and to the boys and girls of the American press corps.

In effect, these scripted boys and girls are Ryan’s sons and daughters.

How will the press corps report on Ryan? Before we review Paul Krugman’s warning, consider Joe Nocera’s scripted column in today’s New York Times.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all from the Times, you get to see something else! In this passage, Nocera repeats Standard Approved Press Corps Claims about Ryan—even as he links to a column which calls those claims a “con:”
NOCERA (8/14/12): Ryan is, in many ways, the perfect Tea Party standard-bearer. He is likable, engaging, wonkish and smart. Although the Tea Party is fueled largely by anger, Ryan comes across as a firebrand without the heat. His personal story—with the death of his father forcing him to become self-reliant early in life—is inspiring. He is willing to sit down and talk to anyone, friend or foe, about his ideas. He has the ability to make his radical ideas sound reasonable.

On the one hand, talk about limiting the federal government and shrinking the deficit has been central to Republican rhetoric for years. On the other hand, historically, most Republicans haven’t really meant it. George W. Bush, for instance, pushed for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients that added an estimated $300 billion to the federal deficit—not to mention two budget-busting wars.

Ryan, however, means it. What sets him apart is that he is the rare politician who has been willing to put meat on the bones so that everybody can see what he has in mind. Ryan’s budget plan would reduce the size of government from the current 24 percent of gross domestic product to around 20 percent of G.D.P. The ax would fall most heavily on programs for the poor. As the opinion writer Matt Miller put it recently in The Washington Post, “Over time, Ryan’s ‘vision’ would decimate most federal activities beyond Social Security, Medicare and defense.”
Nocera repeats the “inspiring” family story which is already Standard Issue wherever the press corps’ line is sold (see next post). He repeats the Standard Claim that Ryan is “likable, wonkish and smart.”

He also tells us that Ryan really means the things he says.

Please understand: Nocera doesn’t agree with Ryan’s views; in fact, he opposes Ryan. But he seems to feel he must repeat these Mandated Standard Assertions.

Ryan is likable, wonkish and smart; he really means the things he says. Those are Standard Mandated Claims. Quite routinely, pundits will repeat these lines when they write about Ryan this week.

Many scribes will repeat those Standard Claims. The lunacy in Nocera’s column comes in his link to Matt Miller.

Given that link, let’s marvel at the things Nocera has said:

According to Nocera, Ryan—who is likable, wonkish and smart—really means the things he says about the federal budget. More specifically, Ryan really means it when he talks about “shrinking the deficit,” even though George Bush didn’t.

How does Nocera know that Bush wasn’t sincere about shrinking the deficit? Because he “pushed for a prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients that added an estimated $300 billion to the federal deficit.”

But uh-oh! Congressman Ryan voted for Bush's prescription drug program! He voted for Bush’s approach to those wars—for his plan to fund those “budget-busting wars” through deficit spending.

(Candidate Kerry voted the other way; he voted to raise taxes to pay for the war in Iraq. When he did, he was falsely and endlessly called a flip-flopper by the scripted boys and girls of the so-called mainstream press.)

Nocera’s logic is already failing. But just consider his puzzling link to Matt Miller.

Miller’s column appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post. From start to finish, Miller made a punishing point—Ryan’s claim to be a deficit hawk is a “con,” a “fraud.” (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/13/12.)

Ryan’s isn’t a fiscal conservative, Miller aggressively said. He isn’t “intent on erasing deficits;” those claims constitute a fraud. According to Miller, “the con has worked in part because budgets make journalists’ eyes glaze over, and once the phony Ryan meme took hold two years ago it became hard to dislodge.”

One day later, along comes Nocera! Even as he links to Miller, he repeats “the phony Ryan meme,” thereby advancing the fraud!

Nocera is the Times’ newest columnist. He is also one of their worst. But once again, please note a key fact:

Nocera opposes Ryan’s proposals for the federal budget. But even as he opposes Ryan, he seems to feel that he must repeat the themes which define Ryan's coverage:

Although the evidence is hard to spot, he has to say that Ryan is smart. He has to say that Ryan’s sincere—that he means the things he says.

Yesterday, before this column appeared, Paul Krugman authored a worried blog post. In it, he described the way the press corps covers Candidate Ryan.

Krugman linked to this post by Jonathan Chait. In his post, Chait makes a truly astonishing claim, a claim he can’t possibly believe.

Warning: You’ll be misled in various ways as Ryan’s sons and daughters proceed. Some of the lying from your own tribe will undermine progressive interests.

Tomorrow: Krugman’s warning


  1. For those who won't bother:

    Chait: "The press pack suddenly decided in October of 2000 that Al Gore’s lies were the story of the race."

    It's not the main point of this post, and it will make the Somerby-can't-get-over-Gore whiners cry, but it does show how very little self-reflection most of our liberal heroes are capable of, and how very little they expect to be called on it.

    And that does tie in very well with the the theme of the post and Joe Nocera's evident fecklessness.

  2. I hope Bob isn't reading that to mean that his "War on Gore" didn't start in October 2000, because the last month of that campaign were certainly dominated by an endless examination of Gore's "lies."

    This is why, instead of an examination of the Bush tax plan after Gore in the first debate, warned that it didn't add up, we got instead a deep look into whether that girl in Florida was still standing in her classroom.

    1. That should read: "I hope Bob isn't reading into that to mean that his "War on Gore didn't start UNTIL October 2000."

    2. It's definitely the "suddenly decided" which is the bullshit claim Bob's talking about. And it's definitely a bullshit claim.

      There was nothing "sudden" about the coverage of Gore in October 2000 at all.

    3. No, but there certainly was something sudden about how they doubled down, stomped on the gas pedal with it, whatever cliche you want to use in October 2000.

    4. "There was nothing "sudden" about the coverage of Gore in October 2000 at all."

      "No, but, [yes.]

      No, just no.

      Chait is wrong about this.

      And wrong in a way which hides the truth about the campaign coverage rather than illuminates it.

    5. You, like Somerby, are reading way too much into a single sentence written by a single pundit to bring out the same broad brush you've been painting with for 12 years.

      But that's the way of Chief Somerby and his tribe of Bobinistas. Complain about the OTHER guy parsing words and focusing on triva. Then prove your case by parsing words and focusing on trivia.

      Yes, OK, the press pack was very mean to Gore throughout the campaign, but ESPECIALLY mean during October, when about all they could talk about was Gore's lies and sighs.

      Does that help?

      Now can we actually talk about the election we are facing THIS YEAR?

  3. Ryan is smart, bold, serious.

    It must be true, even his detractors say it.

    I'll believe he's bold when he dynamites a federally funded building because it didn't follow the design he voted for.

    Until then, he's all hat and no cattle.

  4. Ryan may not be perfectly smart and sincere in comparison to some Platonic ideal, but IMHO he looks great when compared to the standard set by most other elected officials.

    1. And IMHO Ryan looks awfully decpetive and insincere, even when compared to the low standard set by most other elected officials.

      So there's your HO and my HO. Big deal. That's what opinions are worth.

      Having paid some attention to his budget proposals, I am aware that on the facts Ryan is pretty goddamn deceptive and insincere, so there's also that.

      It's not just a Platonic ideal ideal he's up against. The man claims to be a sincere deficit cutter. And, on the facts of his proposals, he's just a flat-out bullsh!t artist.

    2. Is it possible to believe that people who we don't agree with are not insincere, dastardly, or dumb. Can they just be ...wrong?

    3. I didn't say Ryan was dumb. I don't think he's dumb.

      I think he's smart. Too smart for "my side" to deal with most of the time.

      He knows who and what he's working for.

      If I think he's working against the interests of 99.9% of Americans, is that the same as calling him dastardly? If the shoe fits... Ryan will probably kick us with it.

      If I think he's misrepresenting who and what he's working for -- then yeah, I am calling him insincere. No apology.

      If Ryan says he's a deficit cutter - I have two things to say 1) You've got the wrong prescription for the times we're in and 2) I don't believe you anyway, based on your record and your fake "budgets."

      So definitely, he's wrong.

      He's also insincere. That's my NICE way of talking about Paul Ryan. Don't get a drink in me!

    4. If it wasn't so calculated, I'd call it madness.

  5. The last posters point, Ceceila, Is that opinions don't really matter and that Ryan must run on his record as a guy who seemed quite happy to vote for deficit creating measures when his party was in power. However you and the media you pretend to dislike would have it otherwise, this is the truth. Recent posts have suggested you are quite the little objectivist yourself, it's probably time you came clean.

    1. How have you surmised what I think about Ryan's past vote on the Medicare drug benefit from my post?

      The same way you deemed that other poster to be a bigot? Because you're a troll.

  6. Never mind all of this:

    Breaking News.

    Gail Collins wins. Obama references Seamus, indirectly.

    OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- President Obama strayed from his prepared remarks here Tuesday to get in a jab at Mitt Romney's famous dog-on-top-of-car moment.

    Noting that the Republican candidate has criticized wind energy, saying a windmill can't be put on top of a car to power it, Obama had a zinger.

    "I don't know if he's actually tried that," Obama said. "I know he's had other things on his car."

    1. My God. Now if Michelle references dressage, it is officially the end of times.

  7. Bob, Bob, Bob...didn't you read the explanation in either the NYT or WaPo that "fiscally conservative" Ryan was a neophyte Republican House member showing party loyalty when he voted for the Medicare expansion law? He's all grown up now, his own man in charge of his destiny, taking full ownership of his Path to Prosperity to be attained by cutting everything but defense while raising taxes on lower income households. We can't afford to keep funding public health care, education, and food stamps at current levels, but we'll make sure we've got plenty of money for foreign military ventures. Disgusting, just disgusting, and unfortunately a fair number of voters are too blondes by their hatred of Obama to pay careful attention to a harmful agenda crafted by Ryan and his paymasters who will fill Romney's campaign coffers to show their appreciation for his veep choice.

  8. It's the other side of "Ryan doesn't really balance the budget" that's going to be the problem in the demonization of Ryan - under his plan, spending still goes up, just slower. He's not that scary, in other words.

  9. He IS that scary because much of the increased spending will be hogged by defense while safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid will be cut as income taxes are raised on lower income households.