But that’s where the stenography point comes in. It would be wonderful if politicians were always clear and straightforward in their public comments. But they’re not, and that’s why just “reporting what they said” doesn’t always do the job. This was a case where readers, and viewers, needed journalists to do the work not just of reporting what Conrad said, but of explaining, correctly, what it meant.

Addendum: It’s ironic that a Politico blog post was at the center of the confusion here. For much of Monday, that post was featured with a link on the site’s home page that appeared directly under a larger link to health care reporter Carrie Budoff Brown’s latest story. Near its conclusion, that story included this paragraph:

But Democrats are not doing exactly what Byrd decried [in using reconciliation to advance major legislation]. Democrats already passed the comprehensive reform bill through the House and the Senate. They are now looking to make fixes to the bill by packaging changes in a reconciliation measure — a distinction that becomes lost in the debate.


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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.