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May 30, 2012

Quality Control Begins at the Top

The Smartest President Evah makes another bold command decision:

His messages have an improvisational feel at times. On the flight to Colorado last week, Jay Carney, his press secretary, read him an online column concluding that he has presided over slower growth in federal spending than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Obama liked it so much he inserted it into his campaign speech.

Just like that, an online column, rather than a detailed study by a budget office, became fodder for his argument. “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years,” he told supporters in a hotel ballroom in Denver. What he did not say is that the calculation did not count significant spending in his early months in office and assumed future cuts that he opposes.

It's a good thing it's only the President of the United States making outrageous claims at odds with the facts. Had Mitt Romney made such a sloppy, egregious error, we would be seeing the kind of impartial, well researched rebuttal we've come to expect from the Fourth Estate:

Newspapers and other media sources insist that their mission is to keep Americans well-informed and cognizant of the facts. Those tasks fall to editors, who are supposed to exercise discretion and judgment on articles that appear in their publication. The Washington Post even employs a well-read fact checker, Glenn Kessler, who receives both praise and scorn from both sides depending on whose ox he’s goring at the moment, but one in whom the editors apparently have confidence.

That brings us to today’s column from Eugene Robinson. Robinson picks up on a MarketWatch report to accuse Mitt Romney of “lies” in his campaigning and of distorting the truth...

*sigh* I suppose it's too much to expect Washington Post associate editors to actually read the Washington Post... or the AP... or ABC News:

...the same newspaper that published it today debunked that claim last week. Glenn Kessler gave the Obama campaign three Pinocchios for adopting MarketWatch’s flawed analysis...

Kessler wasn’t alone, either. The Associated Press ripped claims from the Obama White House on spending a couple of days later. So did Jake Tapper of ABC News. But it’s the complete disregard for the Post’s own analysis that is so stunning in the decision to publish Robinson’s column.

If you beginning to think that all those independent layers of editorial fact checking and control are just window dressing, take heart. The press can be plenty skeptical when it suits them.

Posted by Cassandra at May 30, 2012 08:31 AM

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Thank heavens the smart people are in charge. Perhaps the President and his people are too busy to know, or care, how much of other people's money they are spending.

Somehow, it escapes them that the President not knowing what the general budget picture of the country is doesn't mean other people don't.

Who the heck reads any of the mainline newspapers anymore? I don't care about bias, I can filter that, but ignorance? It's a waste of time. These days there are much better sources of information. In the case of your example the budget, why, I went directly to the horse.

I'm wondering if anyone in the Whitehouse knows the Whitehouse actually has a website with the historical budget numbers, and you can actually do stuff with them, you know, add, subtract, divide.

Send in the clowns...

Posted by: Allen at May 30, 2012 03:13 PM

I was reading the NYT on a plane this weekend when this part literally jumped out at me:

"Just like that, an online column, rather than a detailed study by a budget office, became fodder for his argument."

This is the President of the United States. He has legions of advisors and he couldn't be bothered to have the article checked? That's the charitable interpretation :p

The scary thing to me is that there's a distinct possiblility that this man actually has no idea how much spending goes on under his administration.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 30, 2012 03:44 PM

There is the distinct possibility that this man has no idea about anything that's going on in his administration.

To be honest there were times in the last administration when I had the same thoughts. I'm bipartisan that way, I think both parties spend a whole lot of money on government for really bad service.

Posted by: Allen at May 30, 2012 04:06 PM