Sometimes the facts that need checking are pretty easy to check. That seemed to be the case with some misleading statements Paul Ryan made at a campaign stop yesterday. The New York Times set the record straight. Unfortunately their fact check was pretty much buried.
The piece (8/17/12) by Trip Gabriel–headlined “Ryan Pushes Working-Class Message in Ohio”–is all about how the Romney campaign is deploying Ryan to speak to “white working-class voters.” Gabriel notes:
Republicans are excited about the Biden-versus-Ryan showdown because of Mr. Ryan’s rhetorical skills and command of policy.
That’s funny, because down in the 8th paragraph or so, readers learn that maybe his command isn’t all that commanding:
Mr. Ryan seemed to be courting blue-collar voters here in Stark County, south of Akron, a perennial bellwether in presidential elections, when he described the loss of jobs that followed the shutdown of a General Motors plant in his hometown.
“A lot of my high school buddies worked at that G.M. plant,” he said. He wove the closing and loss of jobs into a critique of Mr. Obama for failing to exploit domestic energy sources and being responsible for rising gas prices.
“I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open,” Mr. Ryan said. “One more broken promise. We used to build Tahoes and Suburbans. One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline.’”
Here Gabriel steps in and, to his credit, picks it apart:
But the statement was misleading in suggesting that the plant’s closing was linked to policies of the Obama administration that affect gas prices.
Although G.M. cited slow sales of S.U.V.’s because of high fuel costs when it closed the plant, the decision was announced in June 2008, months before Mr. Obama was elected. President George W. Bush, a Republican, was in charge of national energy policy at the time.
Obviously it’s good when papers like the Times to do this. But it’s strange that Ryan telling a bogus story about his own hometown wouldn’t get more attention. The fact check come well after readers are told that he has an impressive command of policy. A more direct version of the story can be found at Talking Points Memo, under the headline, “Paul Ryan Slams Obama For Not Saving Auto Plant That Closed Under Bush.”
Why the curious approach, then? It’s hard to say exactly, but here’s a guess: Campaign coverage tends to stick to certain narratives. There is not, at least for now, a Paul-Ryan-stretches-the-truth narrative; we’re told that he is an Eagle Scout budget wonk. So evidence to the contrary is less welcome in the corporate media.