Fahrenthold 538

I think this article “GOP freshmen get a tough lesson in politics” by David Fahrenthold in the Washington Post perfectly illustrates everything which is wrong with US political journalism.

The theme of the article is explained as follows

“the same hoarse-throat tactics that helped them bring down incumbents last year — attacks on a health-care plan, town-hall heckling — have now been used against them.”

My initial , of course, is that not all health-care plans are the same and not all attacks on health-care plans are the same.

But the article is infinitely worse than I imagined. Hence the rest of the post after a jump.

This question is addressed in the article as follows (I believe I have been complete and thorough)

freshman Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) …

Huizenga, however, rejected the idea that the Democrats were simply re-using the same scare tactics that Republicans used to attack President Obama’s health care law.

“They are lying,” Huizenga said. In contrast, he said, “we’ve got facts.”


“In a court of law, you say it once, and you offer a piece of evidence, and that fact is no longer in dispute,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), previously a prosecutor. But, in town-hall meetings, Gowdy said he’s been forced to repeatedly re-prove the same point: that the GOP plan would not affect seniors who are already on Medicare.

These are the only discussions of what is true and what is false about health care plans. The rest is all discussion of politics. The assertion that Democrats “are lying” is not contested anywhere in the article.

A grand total of one Democrat is quoted, and he is not quoted on the question of whether he is lying

Here is all of the quotation of Democrats in the article.

“They’re like the classic schoolyard bullies,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “who throw punches — and then when you throw a punch back, they beg for forgiveness.”

The claim that Democrats “are lying” is not contested in any way.

Note also, the other brush with reality — Gowdy claims that many people in town halls think that the Republicans are going to elimiante medicare also for people currently on Medicare. This claim of fact is not supported by any evidence. Fahrenhold just accepts his word for what happened in his absense.

Gowdy is not asked to explain why he added the qualifier “who are already on Medicare.”

Also his claim about the Ryan plan is false. The Ryan plan incorporates the Medicare cuts in the PPACA which apply to some people currently on Medicare. Republicans continue to denounce those cuts. Gowdy voted for them (as did almost all current members of the House except for 4 Republicans who voted no on the budget resolution, 2 (including Boehner) who didn’t vote and a few surviving blue dogs).

Growdy’s “piece of evidence” is a plainly false claim of fact contradicted by the text of the resolution for which he voted. In a court of law, that would be perjury (if he were under oath) or at least contempt of court.

But he isn’t in a court of law. He is talking to a Washington Post reporter, so he can say something which is demonstrably false and won’t be called on it.

The Post will publish the unsupported claim that Democrats “are lying” but won’t note the fact that a Republican said something false.

In defence of Grady, he might actually believe that the Medicare privatization is the only thing the resolution says be done to Medicare. I’m sure he often votes without knowing what he is voting on. So his plainly false claim might be the result of ignorance not dishonesty.