Which Way to the White House, WaPo?

Singer's spin on PA perpetuated

Want proof that political reporters will blindly print campaign spin even when all sides know it’s factually untrue? You’re in luck.

In a blog post about “primary positioning,” The Washington Post’s Perry Bacon, among others, passes on a statement put out by Clinton spokesman Phil Singer. Says Singer, via Bacon:

“The path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania, so if Barack Obama can’t win there, how will he [win] the general election?”

The problem here is that this is, um, a lie. No one denies that Pennsylvania will be an important state in November. But both Al Gore and John Kerry won Pennsylvania in their losing bids for the presidency. So by any reasonable assessment, Singer’s statement that “the path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue goes through Pennsylvania” is simply untrue.

Bacon certainly knows this, but it likely didn’t occur to him. We’d bet that’s because, like many of his colleagues, he views his job as reporting what the campaigns say, not assessing its validity.

Until that fundamental problem gets fixed, the campaigns will know that in pressing their case, they’re free to lie with impunity.

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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.