Progressive Media Run with Two Fake Anti-Romney Stories

Progressive Media Run with Two Fake Anti-Romney Stories

Twice this week, progressive media outlets have embarrassed themselves by jumping on stories that looked like promising anti-Republican material only to discover hours later they’d been fooled. In one case, the mistake was a piece of satire, the other a joke mistaken for a serious comment.

Tuesday morning Politico’s Roger Simon posted an article which was clearly not meant to be taken seriously. The thrust of the piece was that Paul Ryan had become unhinged and was “marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘IfStench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having fingersandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'” Stench was supposedly Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney.

If that weren’t outlandish enough, on page two of the piece, Simon writes, “A word about PowerPoint. PowerPoint was released by Microsoft in 1990 asa way to euthanize cattle using a method less cruel than hitting themover the head with iron mallets. After PETA successfully argued in courtthat PowerPoint actually was more cruel than iron mallets, the programwas adopted by corporations for slide show presentations.”

Despite going way over the top with comments like this, the crack research team at MSNBC didn’t catch the joke, and Lawrence O’Donnell opened a segment with it Tuesday evening. Reporting on the O’Donnell segment Wednesday morning, Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher wrote, “Simon’s anecdote has the recognizable (to the Beltway crowd) ring of truth that renders it canonical in political circles.” He did allow that the quote may have been Ryan making an ironic meta-comment on the media.

In any case, Mediaite was far from alone. NY Times columnist Paul Krugman repeated the claim on his blog “Conscience of a Liberal” this morning, before going back and striking through the entire thing. To Krugman you can also add Gawker, Daily Kos and a couple other outlets. That’s media gaffe number one.

While one embarrassment like this would be enough, Tuesday’s was actually the second of the week for some of these outlets. On Sunday the entire left media–Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Gawker, Think Progress–ran stories claiming Mitt Romney was confused about why the windows of airplanes didn’t roll down. Gawker’s lede gives you a sense of the tone: “Affluent Imagineer Mitt Romney has some exciting new proposals for the future of airplane design…”

But it wasn’t just Gawker and Daily Kos that got on board. Politico covered it in a style not that different from Gawker: “Here’s hoping Mitt Romney’s plan to overhaul federal regulations doesn’t include airline safety standards.” The Atlantic‘s James Fallows published an email from an expert who helpfully explained,”the windows in an airplane don’t ‘roll down’ because, for one, the plane is pressurized.”

Rachel Maddow highlighted video of Romney’s remarks while wondering if it might be a “turning point in the election.” She did allow that he might have been joking but suggested that would be inappropriate somehow. Here’s Maddow’s dumbfounded look immediately after showing the clip of Romney’s comments:

As you’ve probably guessed by now, Romney’s statement was a joke. In fact, you can hear people laughing in the clip Maddow played. The report that got this particular ball rolling was published by the LA Times and “based off a pool report written by the New York Times‘s Ashley Parker.” When asked, Parker said it was definitely a joke, but none of the news outlets listed above bothered to check before running their stories. That’s media gaffe number two. It’s also two more gaffes than Mitt Romney has made this week. That is embarrassing.


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