NUTTING GETS IT RIGHT! Amazing! One reporter penned the piece which should have been in every paper:
SATURDAY, JANUARY 15, 2005
NUTTING GETS IT RIGHT: Omigodsomebody did it! Somebody wrote the fact check report which should have appeared in every newspaper after Bushs performance last Tuesday. Bush exaggerates a few facts about Social Security, said the headlinea headline which was excessively polite. But Rex Nutting actually spotted the news which came from Bushs ballyhooed forum. Readers, when an American president convenes a big forum and proceeds to lie in the publics face, thats the biggest news story that day! As far as we know, only Nutting, among major scribes, bothered to sit down and write it.
Nutting is Washington bureau chief for CBS Marketwatch, and he seems to be the only reporter in that city with the nerve to tell the American people that their president is baldly dissembling. Heres the opening of his report:
NUTTING (1/11/05): President Bush made several factual errors Tuesday about Social Security's long-term financing problems at a photo op event designed to educate the public about the retirement system.Yes, that paragraph is quite politebut Nutting actually saw that it was news when Bush made his wild misstatements! And, after laying out a few background facts, Nutting did get down to brass tacks. Heres the first entry; the fact-checks appeared beneath a tangy sub-headline:
NUTTING:At this point, we were upset because Nutting hadnt explained how large those 73 percent payments would be. But wouldnt you know it? Making it look amazingly easy, he laid that out in his next entry:
NUTTING:Cruelly, Nutting even includes a section of the official transcript where Bushs unknowing audience engages in [LAUGHTER] as their president baldly misleads them.
We do have one complaint about Nuttings piece. He uses the official projections of the SS trustees without explaining that these projections are based on pessimistic assumptions about economic growth. At one point, Nutting does explain that the CBO offers a rosier view of these matters, but he doesnt explain why that is. When a journalist relies on those SS projections, he really ought to tell his readers that the projections are gloomy.
But put that one complaint to the side. Nutting wrote the kind of report that should have appeared in every newspaperand on every TV channel as well. When a president convenes a major forum and proceeds to make outrageous misstatements, that is the biggest news of the day. And the American people need to be told that this event has occurred. They deserve to be shown the actual facts. And they deserve to be told, quite directly, that their president has been misstating facts.
But only Nutting, at obscure CBS Marketwatch, sat down and wrote this obvious piece. Bigger scribes took a different approach, covering up for the powerful president. At NBC, David Gregory stared into air, pretending he hadnt noticed the oddness of Bushs wild, repeated misstatements. At ABC, Peter Jennings took a different tack; he paraphrased what Bush had said, offering a milder, vaguer account of Bushys bizarre presentation. And none of our major papers offered the obvious fact check piece, the kind of piece Nutting had posted before the day of the forum was over. Store-bought; corrupted; pampered and powdered, your millionaire pundits knew not to tattle about what this great man had done.
Well discuss this matter more next week. In particular, when will liberal pundits like E. J. Dionne step up and address all the lying? (We always single E.J. out! And we single out because we love.) And when will liberals on the web insist that the networks and papers do likewise? When will liberals on the web shout the names of scribes like Gregorypet name: Stretchwho know that they should stare into air as Bush makes a joke of your discourse?