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7 Worst Media Brown-Nosers Who Enable Paul Ryan's Lies

Many pundits describe the vice-presidential nominee as an intellectual heavyweight. He's not -- but you wouldn't know it from the mainstream media reports.

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Balance! Too bad there's no “Republicans say” in front of “budget wonk” or “among the party's sharpest fiscal thinkers.” Those are givens, whereas the cuts that Ryan's Medicare overhaul would make to the beloved program are portrayed as things that Democrats made up rather than actual policy proposals made by the “wonk.”

As Simon Maloy at Media Matters noted: “In the span of two weeks, Paul Ryan the 'wonk' has said he doesn't know when his campaign's budget will balance because they haven't done the math, and he can't give tax details until after the election. So the question for the media now becomes: Why keep hyping Paul Ryan's wonkiness when he keeps giving you reasons not to?”

5. Patrick O'Connor, Wall Street Journal

For O'Connor, Ryan's budget wonkery stems from the fact that he once was a policy aide in Congress and that other Tea Party Republicans are attached to his wildly unpopular budget ideas. Admitting that Ryan had only a few pages on the budget in Young Guns, the book he co-wrote with Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy, and that Ryan's commitment to deficit-reduction never seems to include a willingness to go after the military yet always targets social programs, O'Connor nevertheless repeats the popular narrative that Ryan is a “wonk.” What he doesn't do is question, in his rather extensive history of Ryan's career, why the budget hawk voted repeatedly to blow holes in the budget with massive tax cuts.

He does raise one tantalizing question, after hundreds of words listing Paul Ryan's appeal as a serious intellectual heavyweight on fiscal issues: if Ryan's budget plan is so appealing, why doesn't Mitt Romney want to use it?

6. Felicia Somnez, Washington Post

From “Aboard the Ryan Plane,”  Somnez writes the world's least original lede about Paul Ryan. “You can take the budget guru out of Washington, but you can’t take Washington out of the budget guru.”

She points out that on the campaign trail Ryan has made an effort not to reveal too much of his “inner policy wonk,” for fear of scaring voters who might be put off by his sheer wonkiness. She doesn't suggest that maybe he doesn't talk about policy on the campaign trail because his  policy tends to scare the bejesus out of actual voters. (Don't worry, that link has a joke about Ryan being a “numbers guy” too!)

The evidence that Ryan is “wonky,” for the Post, is that he “let slip” a mention of FICA—the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, the technical name for payroll taxes. Maybe not a household name exactly, but certainly something that most people who work for a living have come across. And then he used the term “baseline”--which Somnez cutely called “the B word.” And then Ryan himself claimed to be “wonky.”

Media Matters' Zachary Pleat noted in response that economists from Conscience of a Liberal author Paul Krugman to Reagan-Bush I adviser Bruce Bartlett have written off Ryan's budget as fraudulent, nothing but a PR move. Pleat pointed out, “Economists also say that Ryan has little understanding of monetary policy. In a post to his blog titled 'Paul Ryan's Nutty Views on Monetary Policy,' University of Oregon economist Mark Thoma said that he doesn't 'understand why someone with such clownish views is lauded as a policy wonk.'”

7. Ben Smith, BuzzFeed

Smith stakes out a contrarian position worthy of Christopher Hitchens in this column, claiming that Ryan's lies, which have, at this point, become obvious enough to be called out by such rabid left-wing propaganda outlets as Runner's World and the New York Times (itself no stranger to the Paul-Ryan-Boy-Budget-Genius narrative), aren't so bad, really. It's just politics!