More than 5,000 people commented on Kliff’s article. Many were furious with Kliff, accusing of her of dishonesty. Typical was a comment by “Ms_KMA” who called Kliff’s piece “pure propaganda” and asserted that the sequester did not cut Medicare. “We have to rely on commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to tell us the truth about what’ really going on,” Ms. KMA wrote.

Kliff, wisely in my view, did not let these and similar attacks go unchallenged. She came back Thursday with a new piece headlined, “Rush Limbaugh is wrong: The sequester does cut Medicare.”

Showing that Limbaugh makes his facts up or bollixes them is easier than finding leaves in a forest. Still, it is important for journalists to establish the wild inaccuracy of statements of entertainers like Limbaugh and Hannity, because their nonsense circulates so widely and many people believe what they say is backed up by actual reporting.

Kliff included simple ways for doubters to verify that she got it right and Limbaugh did not. She quotes Limbaugh’s remarks and provides a link to the full transcript of his show; she also links to the Budget Control Act of 2011, while quoting the section of law that imposes a cut of up to 2 percent on Medicare.

As the budget cuts continue to take effect in the months ahead plenty of opportunities will arise for journalists in Washington and around the country to examine what actually happens—and, if need be, to push back against the fact-challenged comments of Limbaugh, Hannity, and Representative Alexander.

 

David Cay Johnston covers fiscal and budget matters for CJR’s United States Project. He is a reporter with 46 years of experience, including 13 at The New York Times; a columnist for Tax Analysts; teaches tax and regulatory law at Syracuse University Law School; and is president of Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). Follow him on Twitter @DavidCayJ.