Over at the almost always excellent Wonkblog, Lydia DePillis interviewed World Fuel Services chairman Paul Stebbins.
Stebbins was “involved with Fix the Debt from the very early stages” so it isn’r surprising that Paul Krugman is unimpressed. I am less favorably impressed. I believe the interview contains a 100% false extremely damaging accusation against the AARP and constitutes libel.
Stebbins “And AARP is telling every Democratic member of Congress, ‘if you even mention the word entitlement reforms, which is all that throw grandma into the snow stuff, we’re going to raise $5 million and beat you in a primary.’ ”
A screen capture from the AARP October 2012 code of conduct (warning big pdf)
Also note you can apply to be a member of the AARP board (warning smaller pdf) but must accept among other things, the following condition “AARP Board Members may not take part in any public political or partisan activity that we believe may be construed by the public as an AARP endorsement of political parties, incumbents or candidates for federal, state or major municipal offices.”
Since he lives in crazy centrist alternate reality, Stebbins just must claim that both sides do it. Thus he recklessly made a completely false potentially damaging accusation. I don’t think that people who have such contempt for the facts have a useful role in the policy debate.
DePillis unfortunately not only let the false asssertion pass, but also asserted in her own voice that the AARP funds candidates.
“LD: So now having realized your naivete, are you going to play the same game as the Club for Growth and AARP and fund candidates who agree with you?”
This would be conduct inconsistent with AARP’s tax status. They both casually accused the AARP of breaking the law. Googling during an interview is rude, but wonks at wonkblog should not make assertions of fact without checking (it took me less than 5 minutes of googling starting with AARP).
The interview contains false and potentially very damaging assertions. Stebbins demonstrates reckless disregard for the truth. DePillis didn’t have time to check the claim so wonkblog will only demonstrate reckless disregard fot eh truth if they don’t publish a correction. Wonkblog has very high standards. Interviewing people who have contempt for the facts is challenging, but this interview just isn’t up to their standards.