7 Worst Media Brown-Nosers Who Enable Paul Ryan's Lies
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The myth of “Paul Ryan, serious budget wonk” has a history that dates since the 2010 Tea Party sweep of the elections, at least into the Bush administration. It's been untrue for at least that long.
There were magazine stories of the Young Guns of the GOP—Ryan, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy. They even chose that title to brand themselves, comparisons to the 1980s cowboy movies notwithstanding. If they were in a boy band, Ryan would've been the Serious One while Cantor was the Wisecracking One, and McCarthy, well, he was the One Everyone Forgets About. Other Serious Young Men gave Paul Ryan gravitas--even those ostensibly across the aisle, like Ezra Klein, who wrote in 2011, “Ryan is the kind of politician I fundamentally like. He’s smart, policy-oriented and willing to take political risks.” In 2010 Klein titled a blog post “ The virtues of Ryan's roadmap,” calling Ryan's plan (the one that gutted Medicare) “a more honest entry into the debate.”
Klein at least has come around to become one of the stronger voices arguing that Ryan isn't a deficit hawk but an ideologue bent on privatization. But plenty of others are still pretending that the vice-presidential nominee is willing to have a serious debate on policy. It's no secret that Fox News is letting Romney and Ryan get away with anything, but it's commentators in the mainstream media that do the most damage. Reporters love a ready-made narrative. Writing on a deadline, it's easy to slot in conventional descriptors and fit politicians into stock roles. We've been told Ryan is a serious budget nerd, and the more it gets echoed, the more it will continue to be echoed. Here we bring you seven media enablers of the Paul Ryan myth.
1. Howard Kurtz, Daily Beast
Howard Kurtz is supposed to be a media critic, which makes it even more grating that he's fallen into the same trap as most of the rest of the mainstream media when it comes to Ryan's bona fides.
“True to his reputation as one of the GOP’s leading intellectuals,” Kurtz wrote of Ryan's RNC appearance, “it was something of a wonky speech sprinkled with folksy references—such as one to his hometown of Janesville, Wisc., where 'a lot of guys I went to high school with' worked at a GM plant that shut down.”
That's not the only time Kurtz alludes to Ryan's wonkiness without actually mentioning any of Ryan's policy points—aside from pointing out that Ryan's misleading everyone by beating up on Obama's Medicare cuts without mentioning his own slash-and-burn plan for healthcare for the elderly. He also mentions the Janesville line without pointing out that it too was one of Ryan's biggest whoppers of the night, trying to blame the president for closing a plant that shut down in 2008.
He wrote that Ryan delivered a policy-based attack on Obama but the example he gives is Ryan's attack on Obamacare, which Ryan said has no place in “a free country.” Serious policy analysis, indeed!
As an aside, the GOP can't seem to decide whether it loves or hates the auto bailout—at once beating up on Obama for bailing out GM and Chrysler and then, as Ryan does here, complaining that Obama didn't save a plant in his own district. Apparently auto plants are like military bases—they should be propped up by the government as “job creators” when it's convenient for members of Congress. Roosevelt Institute fellow Mike Konczal joked on Twitter, “Romney should announce a Works Progress Administration/Civilian Conservation Corps tonight, but one where everyone in it works in Janesville.”