Fox Disregarded Numerous Falsehoods To Lavish Praise On Paul Ryan Speech

Fox cheered Congressman Paul Ryan following his speech at the Republican National Convention, calling it “cogent,” “coherent,” and a “lethal shot” against President Obama. However, the speech was laden with numerous falsehoods that Fox patently ignored.

Fox Lauded Ryan Speech As “Cogent,” “A Tour De Force,” “Powerful”

Chris Wallace Called Ryan Speech “Cogent” And “Coherent” By “A Very Brilliant” Man. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace praised Ryan as “a very brilliant and very thoughtful man” and called his speech “as cogent, as coherent, as searing an indictment of the Obama record as you have heard from the critics.” Though Wallace failed to rebut several false claims Ryan made in his speech, he did note that Ryan's criticism of Obama over the debt was marred by Ryan's refusal to support the Bowles-Simpson plan, a bipartisan proposal to reduce the deficit:

WALLACE: A lot of people think that Paul Ryan has for some time been the intellectual leader of the Republican Party. And I think you could see that tonight. This was really a tour de force by a very brilliant and very thoughtful man. I want to add to what Brit [Hume] said. This was as cogent, as coherent, as searing an indictment of the Obama record as you have heard from the critics; obviously his supporters are going to disagree. [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 8/29/12]

Brit Hume: Ryan Is “A Nice Young Man Who Delivered Nonetheless A Lethal Shot Tonight.” Following the speech, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume lauded Ryan as “a nice young man who delivered nonetheless a lethal shot tonight”:

HUME: The tricky thing [Ryan] faced was, could he deliver an eloquent speech and a powerful speech in which he came across as a likeable, and trustworthy young man that the American people can have confidence in and still deliver a devastating indictment of President Obama's administration? My sense about it is listening to it and kind of guessing how people out there might react to it is, that he probably did that job pretty well in the eyes of a great many people out across this country.

His speech was interesting, it was compelling, it had humor, and the moment when he mentioned his mother and his pride in her and her being his role model and you get that amazing picture of the little granddaughter snuggling up to her, that was worth a lot, too, in terms in the sense that this is a nice young man -- a nice, young man who delivered nonetheless a lethal shot tonight. [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 8/29/12]

Karl Rove: Ryan "Made A Pointed, Direct, Sober, But Respectful Critique Of Obama." Fox News contributor Karl Rove applauded Ryan's speech, calling it “pointed, direct, sober” while also “energetically delivered”:

ROVE: Tonight he made a pointed, direct, sober, but respectful critique of Obama, not delivered in anger and malice but instead with disappointment and regret and did it expertly. There are two other notes he hit that I want to briefly mention. One is conservative populism. This was an attack on big government and upon the cronyism and the corruption of the current administration. And then there was a big note of optimism and energetically delivered. [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 8/29/12]

Charles Krauthammer: Ryan's Speech Was “Bold, Very Strong, And Very Large.” Following the speech, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer lauded Ryan's speech as “bold, very strong and large in the sense that he went way beyond just the attacks which were extremely effective - like stiletto attacks.”

KRAUTHAMMER: I thought the speech by Ryan was bold, very strong, and very large in the sense that he went way beyond just the attacks which were extremely effective -- like stiletto attacks. Each one a short jab that left a mark. There was no long elaboration, no wind up, he went point by point. And I agree with Karl, it was sort of more in sorry than in anger. But it cleverly reminded people -- you know that line about the young people with the faded poster of Obama on the wall who don't have a job. It reminded people of the fact that Obama had disappointed them.  [Fox News, America's Election HQ, 8/29/12]

Fox Nation Dubbed Ryan Speech “Powerful.” Fox Nation posted a transcript of Paul Ryan's speech using the headline: “Paul Ryan's Powerful RNC Speech: 'Let's Get This Done'”:

 Fox Nation on Ryan speech

[Fox Nation, 8/29/12]

Ryan Bashed The Stimulus That He Tapped Into For Local Business

Ryan: “The Stimulus Was A Case Of Political Patronage, Corporate Welfare, And Cronyism At Their Worst.” During his speech, Ryan criticized the stimulus, calling it “the first troubling sign” of the Obama administration.

The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.

What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn't just spent and wasted -- it was borrowed, spent, and wasted. [Transcript of Paul Ryan's 2012 Republican National Convention speech, 8/29/12, via Huffington Post]

FACT: Ryan Sought And Received Stimulus Funds For Businesses In His District. The Boston Globe reported that Ryan sought stimulus funds for local businesses even while he was criticizing the stimulus as wasteful in 2009:

In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. Ryan was railing against President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package as a “wasteful spending spree,” he wrote at least four letters to Obama's secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by the Globe.

The advocacy appeared to pay off; both groups were awarded the economic recovery funds -- one receiving a $20 million grant to help thousands of local businesses and homes improve their energy efficiency, agency documents show.

Ryan's letters to the energy secretary praising the energy initiatives as he sought a portion of the funding are in sharp contrast to the House Budget Committee chairman's image as a Tea Party favorite adamantly opposed to federal spending on such programs. [Boston Globe, 8/13/12]

FACT: Ryan Forced To Acknowledge Stimulus Requests After Denying He Sent Them. ABC News reported that Ryan was forced to acknowledge requesting stimulus funds for businesses in his district after repeatedly denying that he sought the funding:

After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.

Ryan had denied doing so as recently as Wednesday, when he spoke to ABC's Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, in Ohio.


In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce “energy consumption” in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash.


But as we've now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds. [ABC News, Political Punch, 8/16/12]

Ryan Blamed Obama For Janesville Auto Plant Closing That Occurred Under Bush

Ryan Falsely Suggested Obama Is At Fault For Hometown Plant Closure. During his speech, Ryan said:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That's what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that's how it is in so many towns, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight. [Transcript of Paul Ryan's 2012 Republican National Convention speech, 8/29/12, via Huffington Post]

FACT: Janesville Plant Closed Before Obama's Inauguration. An August 16 Detroit News article reported that Ryan had inaccurately attacked Obama for failing to keep the Janesville plant open and noted that the plant's closure predated Obama's presidency:

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan inaccurately said Thursday that President Barack Obama “broke his promise” by failing to keep a General Motors plant open that closed in 2008 -- before the Democrat took office.

Ryan, the House Budget committee chairman, recounted the decision by GM to shutter the Janesville Assembly plant in his hometown in June 2008. The last SUV rolled off the line in December 2008.

“I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he'll keep that plant open,” Ryan said at a campaign stop in Ohio Thursday, recounting the fact that his high school friends worked at the GM assembly plant. “One more broken promise. We used to build Tahoes and Suburbans. One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs. The president's terrible energy policies are costing us jobs.”

In fact, Obama made no such promise and the plant halted production in December 2008, when President George W. Bush was in office. [Detroit News, 8/16/12]

FACT: Obama Never Promised To Keep The Plant Open. Moments after Ryan's speech, Politifact-Wisconsin rated Ryan's statement as false, noting the President had never promised to keep the plant open:

“And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.  The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it's where it will thrive.  I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that's the future I'll fight for as your president.”

That's a statement of belief that, with government help, the Janesville plant could remain open -- but not a promise to keep it open.

Ryan said Obama broke his promise to keep a Wisconsin GM plant from closing. But we don't see evidence he explicitly made such a promise -- and more importantly, the Janesville plant shut down before he took office.

We rate Ryan's statement False. [PolitiFact, 8/29/12]

FACT: Center For Automotive Research: By 2010, The Auto Rescue Saved Nearly 1.5 Million Jobs. In November 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported that a study from the Center for Automotive Research found that the auto rescue saved well over 1 million jobs:

No matter what happens with Government Motors, the taxpayer intervention in the auto business appears to be a win for Americans, a new research report asserts.

The Center for Automotive Research said today the government's bailouts of the U.S. auto industry spared more than 1.14 million jobs last year alone, and prevented “additional personal income losses” of nearly $97 billion combined for this year and last.

Another 314,400 jobs were saved this year thanks to the $80 billion in taxpayer lifelines extended to GM, Chrysler, and the GMAC and Chrysler Financial financing businesses, CAR said. [The Wall Street Journal, 11/17/10]

Ryan Blamed Obama For Bowles-Simpson Plan That He Helped Kill

Ryan Touted Commission's “Urgent Report” Before Criticizing Obama For Doing “Exactly Nothing.” In Rep. Paul Ryan's RNC speech he attacked President Obama over the debt, claiming the Simpson-Bowles commission “came back with an urgent report” but that Obama “did exactly nothing” with the plan. From Ryan's speech:

Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing. [Transcript of Paul Ryan's 2012 Republican National Convention speech, 8/29/12, via Huffington Post]

FACT: Ryan “Was A Pivotal Figure In Killing” The Bowles-Simpson Plan. An August 14 Bloomberg article noted that Ryan “was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement,” pointing out that “Ryan led a bloc of three House Republicans who denied the additional votes needed” to send the plan to Congress for a vote. From Bloomberg:

Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now points to as a model for putting America's fiscal house in order.

The 18-member panel needed 14 votes to send a 10-year plan for trimming the debt to the U.S. Congress for a vote. As his party's top member on the House Budget Committee, Ryan led a bloc of three House Republicans who denied the additional votes needed.

All three Senate Republicans on the panel backed the plan and one of them, former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, said he thinks the House Republicans who rejected it were beholden to an anti-tax-increase pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who opposes the plan's tax blueprint that raises revenue by ending popular expenditures. [Bloomberg, 8/14/12]

FACT: Ryan “Ended Up As An Energetic Participant In The Ideological Stalemate That Doomed” Bowles-Simpson. In an August 15 article, Politico called Ryan “an energetic participant in the ideological stalemate that doomed [the Bowles-Simpson commission's] work to failure.” From Politico:

He was enthusiastic, earnest, courteous and well-informed. Rep. Paul Ryan, in other words, certainly knew how to play the role of a sleeves-rolled-up, problem-solving deficit hawk as a member of the high-profile Bowles-Simpson budget commission.

In the end, however, that was not the role Ryan chose to play -- he was more of a loyal GOP partisan who wasn't willing to step out on his own.

After beginning as an energetic participant on the Bowles-Simpson commission, he finished up as an energetic participant in the ideological stalemate that doomed its work to failure. [Politico, 8/15/12]

Economist: Ryan's Opposition To Plan “More Or Less Guaranteed The Plan Would Die.” In a January 7, 2011 blog post, The Economist noted that Romney opposed the Bowles-Simpson plan which, along with opposition from other House Republicans “more or less guaranteed the plan would die.” From The Economist:

Like Mr Conrad, Mr Ryan was a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission. Unlike Mr Conrad, he voted against its plan to stabilise the debt despite calling it “serious and credible”. He opposed it because it left Mr Obama's health-care reform intact, and because it relied too much on tax increases, even though these were smaller than the plan's spending cuts. The opposition by Mr Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans more or less guaranteed the plan would die.

A few days later Mr Ryan congratulated Mr Obama for acting “responsibly” in capitulating to Republicans and agreeing to an $800 billion-plus package that extends all of George Bush's tax cuts and implements new temporary stimulus composed overwhelmingly of tax cuts. Whatever its merits as stimulus, its complete absence of any linkage to long-term deficit reduction is antithetical to the principals behind the Fiscy. [The Economist, 1/7/11]

Ryan Dishonestly Blamed Obama For U.S. Credit Downgrade

Ryan: “It Began With A Perfect Triple-A Credit Rating For The United States; It Ends With A Downgraded America.”  During his speech, Ryan stated Obama's presidency had begun with a “triple-A credit rating” and ends with a “downgraded America”:

Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close.

It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn't cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn't correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America. [Transcript of Paul Ryan's 2012 Republican National Convention speech, 8/29/12, via Huffington Post]

FACT: The Economy Obama Inherited Was Hemorrhaging Jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy lost hundreds of thousands of jobs per month throughout 2008, and the employment decline peaked at 820,000 jobs lost in January 2009:

St. Louis Fed Employment Chart 

[Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2/6/09]

FACT: At The Beginning Of Obama's Term, The Economy Had Been Contracting Rapidly From the Recession. The Associated Press Reported:

The 2007-2009 recession, already in the record books as the worst in the 66 years since the end of World War II, was even worse than previously thought.

From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent. [Associated Press, 7/29/11]

Fact: The Rating Agency That Downgraded The U.S. Was A “Key Enabler Of The Financial Meltdown.” A Congressional Commission concluded in a January 2011 Financial Crisis Inquiry Report that the credit rating agencies were “essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction” and “were key enablers of the financial meltdown.” From the report:

We conclude the failures of credit rating agencies were essential cogs in the wheel of financial destruction. The three credit rating agencies [Standard & Poor's, Moody's, and Fitch Ratings] were key enablers of the financial meltdown. The mortgage-related securities at the heart of the crisis could not have been marketed and sold without their seal of approval. Investors relied on them, often blindly. In some cases, they were obligated to use them, or regulatory capital standards were hinged on them. This crisis could not have happened without the rating agencies. Their ratings helped the market soar and their downgrades through 2007 and 2008 wreaked havoc across markets and firms. [The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report, Final Report of the National Commission on the Causes of the Financial and Economic Crisis in the United States, January 2011, emphasis in original]

... And Was Not Qualified to “Pass Judgment” On U.S. Economic Policies. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman argued “It's hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the Rating Agencies”:

[I]t's hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point -- then went ahead with the downgrade.

More than that, everything I've heard about S&P's demands suggests that it's talking nonsense about the US fiscal situation. The agency has suggested that the downgrade depended on the size of agreed deficit reduction over the next decade, with $4 trillion apparently the magic number. Yet US solvency depends hardly at all on what happens in the near or even medium term: an extra trillion in debt adds only a fraction of a percent of GDP to future interest costs, so a couple of trillion more or less barely signifies in the long term. What matters is the longer-term prospect, which in turn mainly depends on health care costs.

So what was S&P even talking about? Presumably they had some theory that restraint now is an indicator of the future -- but there's no good reason to believe that theory, and for sure S&P has no authority to make that kind of vague political judgment.

In short, S&P is just making stuff up -- and after the mortgage debacle, they really don't have that right.

So this is an outrage -- not because America is A-OK, but because these people are in no position to pass judgment. [The New York Times, 8/5/11]