The dumbest three sentences of last week

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The prize goes to Politico (surprise!) and three in question were penned by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei. The article's premise was utterly predictable: The White House is bumbling, while the GOP is super savvy! (Politico's been writing that same piece for six months straight now.) But behold what happens when news is literally filtered through the RNC:

By doing so much, so fast, Obama gave Republicans the chance to define large swaths of the debate. Conservatives successfully portrayed the stimulus bill as being full of pork for Democrats. Then Obama lost control of the health care debate by letting Republicans get away with their bogus claims about "death panels."

How does Politico know the GOP was successful in portraying the stimulus bill as full of pork? Allen and VandeHei don't say. Everyone understands that's the claim that the GOP made during the stimulus 'debate.' But how does Politico come to the conclusion it was successful? The duo don't bother pointing to any polling data. They don't provide any evidence that that GOP claim stuck among everyday voters. Politico simply announces the claim as fact.

What I think they really meant to suggest was that the GOP was successful in convincing journalists that the stimulus bill was full of pork. The Beltway press club concluded that conservatives had successfully tagged the bill as being wasteful, so therefore it's now considered fact.

Think about it: The bill itself was easily passed and was signed into law. And the "Cash for Clunkers" stimulus program, for instance, has sent automobile sales soarings this summer. But at Politico, conservatives won the battle over the stimulus bill.

Nifty trick, eh?

Second, note how it was the White House's fault that conservatives launched the phony "death panel" smear campaign. It was the White House's fault that the other side rolled out a wild, unhinged, sci-fi lie about health care reform. It was the White House's fault that Republicans got "away with their" bogus claim. But how did they get away with the smear? By the media, including Politico, often repeating the hollow claim, of course.

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