We’re talking about Michael Cooper: Michael Cooper’s report in today’s New York Times is a bit of a landmark event.
It includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s take a quick overview:
The good: In this report, the New York Times extends a welcome new practice. It simply asserts, as a matter of fact, that Paul Ryan said various things Wednesday night which pretty much aren’t really true.
In our hard-copy Times, the headline says this: “Facts Took a Beating In Ryan’s Speech.” That is a perfectly accurate statement. It’s good that the New York Times came out and said it. (For an updated version of Cooper's report, click here.)
Warning: Newspapers can be wrong on claims of this type, as with all other types of claims.
The bad: Oof. This report is supposed to be about Ryan’s misstatements. At several points, the report gets blown off course.
This really isn’t the place to evaluate Romney’s Medicare plan, if such a creature really exists. The Times should be exploring that topic, of course, even though it’s very boring. But this is not the place.
But so what? Midway through his report, Cooper wanders onto that topic, doing a short and sloppy job. This introduces a lot of confusion and distracts attention from his supposed focus—the striking number of misleading or inaccurate claims Ryan made Wednesday night.
The ugly: Good God. Yesterday, we explained the powerful master narrative which has long controlled the discussion of bold honest truthful Paul Ryan. Click here, then also click this.
The skinny is this:
For the past twenty years, the press corps has typed a serial novel in which the big liars have all been Democrats and the truth-tellers have all been alleged “budget hawks.”
This has been a very stupid serial novel. But it still exerts a powerful gravitational pull on the press corps’ work.
On Wednesday night, Ryan’s speech was so dishonest that the mainstream press corps is struggling to say so, even though this flies in the face of that serial novel. But they can’t quite abandon that master narrative! This is what Cooper types early in his report:
COOPER (8/31/12); The growing number of misrepresentations appear to reflect a calculation in both parties that shame is overrated, and that no independent arbiters command the stature or the platform to hold the campaigns to account in the increasingly polarized and balkanized media firmament. Any unmasking of the lies or distortions, the thinking goes, rarely seeps into the public consciousness.You can bet your sweet bippy “the jury is out” in the case of Ryan’s speech. Within the press corps, players are nervously looking around to see how much truth can be told about Ryan—especially since the obvious truth about his conduct flies in the face of that novel.
But an interesting question unfolding is whether there is a tipping point at which a candidate becomes so associated with falsehoods that it becomes part of his public persona—which hampered Vice President Al Gore during his run for president in 2000, when his misstatements on the campaign trail were used to stoke the perception that he could not be trusted in general.
In the case of Mr. Ryan’s speech, the jury is still out.
Indeed! Even as Cooper tells the world about Ryan’s many misstatements, he can’t—or won’t—escape the pull of that old master narrative. Surely, Michael Cooper knows that Candidate Gore didn’t utter a string of misstatements on the campaign trail.
By now, Cooper and his editor surely know that that claim was a press corps scam. But it still constitutes official history within the journalistic guild. And not only that: Politically, repeating that story helps the Times soften the blow of pointing the finger at Ryan.
That claim about Gore is a long-standing scam. Joan Walsh has kissed the ass of power, allowing that ugly tale to live. And Walsh is only one of many! If you’re a liberal or a progressive, your interests have been sold out by multitudes down through these many years!
We expect to do more with Cooper’s report next week. But even as it represents a major emergence from an old force, it includes the most disgraceful claim which lies at the heart of the press corps' serial novel.
That master narrative makes it hard for journos to tell the truth about Ryan. So sad:
It was easy for them to lie about Gore during Campaign 2000! It’s very hard for them to be truthful about Candidate Ryan today.
Where have they taken Paul Krugman: Everyone understands how this works—everyone except Paul Krugman!
Until yesterday, he did understand.