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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The old saying goes “There are no referees in politics.” But there are fact checkers — Politifact, FactCheck.org, The Fact Checker. These “independent” seers like to think they’re defending the truth. But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have figured out how to use them to spread lies.

Many of these fact checkers peer into the words of both major parties and do their best to suggest that both sides are the same – despite the fact, for instance, that the GOP’s nominee Mitt Romney has more “Pants on Fire” rulings than any national politician.

Rarely are fact checkers as unanimous and righteous in their condemnation of a falsehood as they have been of the Romney campaign’s claim that the president took the work requirement out of Welfare. It’s a flat out lie. But it’s also the first ad that has moved the dial for Romney. You may have listened as a Romney pollster, when confronted with that fact that the attack is false, said, “We aren’t going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Instead of letting fact checkers edit their campaign, Romney’s team has a better use for fact checkers: campaign surrogates.

The “birther” scandal shows that debunking lies does little to quell the lie and much more to spread it. It’s a tactic Mitt Romney has used effectively for a year now as he’s accused the president of “apologizing for America.” That never happened. But to debunk the lie, you have to repeat it. It’s classic “He’ll look like hell denying it” politics.

Although modern politicians are generally too smart to repeat lies about themselves, the Romney camp knows the fact checkers will. So how do you dictate what the media will be talking about tomorrow? Make purposely deceptive statements about the issues you want to highlight.

What are Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s biggest weaknesses? Medicare; the auto bailout; a hugely unpopular Congress and Ryan’s record of voting for Bush-era surplus-blowing policies.

So Ryan systematically made an “attack by assertion rather than accusationabout each of these issues. By making these attacks in deceptive ways that either ignored or left out crucial facts, he forced the media to repeat his assertions.

From the morning Romney announced Ryan as his running mate, the candidates have been making the assertion that the president funneled – or sometimes “robbed” — $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. This assertion is a classic half-truth in several ways. The money comes from savings that extend the life of the program. Ryan voted to keep the cuts but not to fund ObamaCare.

But you see? We’ve fallen into the precise trap that Ryan set.

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