Fact Checker speculates, broadly opines: Where have they taken the real Glenn Kessler?
Kessler writes a much-discussed blog at the Washington Post. The name of his blog: “The Fact Checker.”
This morning, though, in the hard-copy Post, The Fact Checker broadly opines.
In Friday morning’s hard-copy Post, Kessler seemed a bit soft on bold honest Paul Ryan’s many convention speech groaners. This morning, though, this version of Kessler really does let himself go.
What have they done with the real Glenn Kessler? Would a “Fact Checker” reason this way?
KESSLER (9/1/12): For all the outrage (on the left) about misrepresentations and misinformation in Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice president, my reaction was: par for the course.Say what? Who cares about Ryan’s misrepresentations, this writer almost seems to be saying.
We are, of course, talking about a political convention. 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.
Talk to the hand—or perhaps to the chair! Shit like this is par for the course! This is what our conventions are like!
By the time this writer is done, it almost sounds like Ryan was obligated to issue that long string of groaners. The headline in the hard-copy paper says this:
"Truth be told? That's no way to speak at a convention."
Coming from the Post’s “Fact Checker,” this tone struck us as rather odd. But when Kessler began to give examples of similar convention dissembling, we began to wonder:
What have they done with the real Glenn Kessler? And who put this crap in the Post?
KESSLER: 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.Obviously, the real Glenn Kessler couldn’t have written that passage. Instead of checking facts and denouncing misstatements, this author speculated about the motives of those who criticized Ryan’s performance! And how about that counter-example!
But worst convention speech ever? Please.
The gold standard for convention speeches filled with misrepresentations remains the speech of then-Sen. Zell Miller (R-Ga.) at the 2004 GOP convention attacking Democratic nominee John Kerry. Miller, who as a Democrat delivered the keynote address at the 1992 convention that nominated Bill Clinton, offered a slashing attack that was breathtaking in its dishonesty.
Miller accused Kerry of voting against a vast array of weapons systems, making it appear as if Kerry had repeatedly voted to kill urgently needed tools for the military—when in reality the charge was based on a single vote nearly 15 years earlier. More important, these were weapons that then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney (and the vice president in 2004) had urged Congress to kill. Miller also suggested that a quote Kerry had given to the Harvard Crimson 35 years earlier, when he had just returned from serving in the Vietnam war, represented his current policy toward the United Nations.
Now, that’s a speech for a fact checker! The Washington Post did not have the Fact Checker column then, but it ran a front-page article detailing how he misled viewers with his language.
Zell Miller’s speech was worse, this author says. But Miller, reprehensible as he was, wasn’t a nominee!
Bold honest courageous truthful Candidate Ryan was.
At this point, the Kessler replacement seemed to know he or she needed better examples. Has any previous nominee been this bad?
Check out this line of reasoning:
KESSLER (continuing directly): Four years ago, our colleagues at FactCheck.org catalogued a series of errors and misstatements by John McCain, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin in their speeches. (Joe Biden got a pass.) All of them airbrushed their past or mischaracterized their opponents.Kessler didn't write that. In this substitute writer’s view, Palin’s misstatement about the Bridge was worse than Ryan’s groaner about Bowles-Simpson (which he described as Simpson-Bowles, in contravention of Washington norms).
Palin, for instance, gave a self-serving account of her support for the “Bridge to Nowhere”—claiming she said “thanks but no thanks”— when in fact she had supported it until it was largely killed by Congress. This is a bigger failure to tell the whole story than Ryan criticizing Obama for doing nothing with the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction recommendation, without noting that he himself voted against the commission report.
Obama, meanwhile, knocked McCain for voting 90 percent of the time with his own party; he did not mention that he himself voted 97 percent of the time with Democrats. Obama and McCain also mischaracterized each other’s proposals, using sometimes slippery facts.
But even if that judgment is right, that would be one misstatement by Palin. Ryan issued a series of groaning misstatements in which he withheld rather obvious facts about his own role in high-profile affairs.
Has any nominee ever done that before? This author doesn’t attempt to say, although he works to create the illusion that he (or she) has. Did Obama and McCain make misstatements too? That’s a wonderful observation, but it doesn’t speak to the question here:
When it comes to its volume of bald-faced dissembling, was smart truthful Ryan’s convention address in a class by itself?
Kessler’s photo appears in this morning’s Post, but it’s hard to believe that this is his work. Why would a “Fact Checker” speculate about motive so quickly? Why would he opine so brosdly? Why would he craft such lazy comparisons in support of those broad opinions?
On Friday morning, Kessler seemed soft. As of today, it seems fairly clear that the real Glenn Kessler has been deposed.
What have they done with the real Glenn Kessler? More significantly: Why the heck would the Washington Post choose to “check facts” this way?