Here’s the latest example of lazy journalism leading to blatant inaccuracies and falsehoods in the blogosphere, compliments of our friends at Gawker — and their incessant crusade to make Mitt Romney look stupid (as if he’s not doing a fine job of that on his own): “Paul Ryan’s Cute Nickname For His Floundering Running Mate: ‘The Stench’ (UPDATE).”
That’s a headline dreamed up by Gawker blogster Cord Jefferson, which currently is featured on the Gawker website and was beamed out to its 209,000 Facebook followers.
It’s that pesky “(UPDATE)” part that’s so perplexing — you see, Ryan doesn’t actually call Romney “the stench.” Not even a little bit. At all. Yet, it’s that claim that’s the basis for Jefferson’s entire post — which he ultimately admits is complete bullshit.
Here’s how Jefferson came to his conclusion that Ryan calls Romney “the stench”: someone at Buzzfeed read the New York Times this weekend and noticed an article that quoted Craig Robinson, the former political director for the Republican Party of Iowa, as saying, “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him.”
Now, according to Gawker, “Rather than decry Robinson’s comments or reaffirm his commitment to the Romney ticket since the Times story broke, Ryan has been running with it.”
Jefferson based this claim on a Politico blog post by Roger Simon, in which he writes the following: “Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, ‘If Stench calls, take a message’ and ‘Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.'”
“Marching” around his campaign bus? Finger sandwiches? Seems pretty absurd — possibly
satirical — we know. So absurd, in fact, that you’d probably want to know whom was “reportedly” relaying this information, and perhaps track down a first-hand source before running with the story that the GOP candidate for vice president is calling the man who picked him as his running mate “the stench.”
But there was no link in Simon’s “reportedly,” and nothing explaining where he got this information.
There’s a reason Simon’s claim comes across as absurd and satirical, and that’s because it is — in a clarification to Buzzfeed (not Gawker, which indicates that Jefferson didn’t even bother to get the clarification first-hand) Simon writes that “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”
Just to break this down, this misinformation is the result of a Gawker writer reading Buzzfeed, where a writer read Politico, where a writer read the New York Times.
It’s like a game of telephone — where nobody even bothers to write a damn email.
We sent Gawker an email asking for an explanation of Jefferson’s post. We were told “just do your thing, James.”
Fine by me.
Below is the full text of Gawker’s post — again, based solely on satire and hearsay, but “reported” as fact — just in case it, ya know, mysteriously vanishes from the Internet:
How can you tell when a presidential campaign is not going so well? A
lot of ways, actually, but one way is to listen to the candidate for
vice president’s pet names for his presidential running mate. If one of
those sobriquets is a word normally reserved to describe death, filth,
and feces, chances are that you are looking at a rather unsuccessful
In a New York Times piece from Sunday
that examined how Paul Ryan could best be utilized by Mitt Romney,
Craig Robinson, the former political director for the Republican Party
of Iowa, was quoted as saying, “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to
run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench
of Romney off of him.”
Rather than decry Robinson’s comments or reaffirm his commitment to the Romney ticket since the Times story broke, Ryan has been running with the nickname,
according to Politico, telling campaign staffers things like, “If
Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger
sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”
Stench” does have a certain ring to it. Alas, something tells me we
won’t have the opportunity to say it anytime soon.