The Bachus and Moore Capito letter goes on to say that the CFPB was in fact the “primary architect” of the mortgage servicing settlement. It’s a claim that is far from accurate. For starters, the mortgage servicing settlement is far from finished. How can Republicans accuse the CFPB of being the architect if the deal is still in the making? Perhaps Republicans are referring to the term sheet (PDF) released by Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, a Democrat, earlier this month, a rough guide to how the settlement might look. That draft was 27 pages long. And while it included ideas offered by the CFPB, it featured plenty that was not in the CFPB’s recommendations. To call the bureau the “primary architect” simply isn’t correct.

You can read Warren’s devious PowerPoint presentation for yourself here.

Better yet, read David Weidner’s column over at WSJ.com on the disingenuous attacks on Warren by the banks’ buddies (McHenry’s No. 1 campaign donor is too big to fail behemoth Wells Fargo. The American Bankers Association and Bank of America are tied for No. 5).

Mr. McHenry’s challenge—and the wider Republican opposition to Ms. Warren—is about authority.

On that point, there isn’t really anything to debate. Ms. Warren is not only within her right to participate in the mortgage settlement talks, she is obliged to by law. The Dodd-Frank Act spells it out. It’s in Title X, Sections 1001 to 1100H.

For example, the CFPB is required to create an office for fair lending to oversee a range of products, including mortgages. The CFPB also is supposed to maintain an active dialogue with states regarding lending practices.

Finally, there’s Section 1013 on Page 1,618, which requires “coordinating fair lending efforts of the Bureau with other Federal agencies and State regulators, as appropriate, to promote consistent, efficient, and effective enforcement of Federal fair lending laws.”

There’s no way around it: By passing on McHenry’s already debunked claims without fact checking them, the press lent credence to falsehoods. In other words, it’s helping politicians lie and perpetuating a smear against Warren.

There’s no excuse for that.

Finally, about that scheduling spat. It’s somewhat harder to avoid a he said-she said here. But when you already know one side is lying about something else, it’s a lot easier to figure out who’s telling the truth.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.