NBC Falsely Claims Paul Ryan 'Played Fast and Loose With the Truth'

At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie teased an upcoming interview with Paul Ryan by slamming the Republican vice presidential candidate: "Paul Ryan joins us to talk about where he thinks the presidential race is headed and criticism that he's played fast and loose with the truth." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Beginning the interview with Ryan minutes later, fellow co-host Matt Lauer parroted Guthrie's attack: "There are some people who are claiming that you played a little fast and loose with the truth on certain key elements. And I'm not just talking about Democratic analysts, I'm talking about some independent fact checkers. Would you concede that while many of the things you said were effective, some were not completely accurate?"

Ryan dismantled Lauer's baseless claim:

No, not in the least, actually. What they're trying to suggest is that I said that Barack Obama was responsible for our plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying. Read the speech. What I was saying is the President ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It's still idle, people are still not working there.

Those supposed "independent fact checkers" actually left out several key facts, and yet, the media continues to run with the dishonest attack on Ryan's accurate statements.

On Tuesday, Lauer insisted: "I not only read the speech, but I listened to it as well. And in my opinion, it seemed like you were unmistakably trying to link the President's promise with the closing of that plant, which you know obviously, closed before he became president."

Ryan shot back:

The promise was that he was going to open the plant. The promise was he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant so that people go back to work and it would be open for another hundred years, he said. So the point is, he filled people with all this hope as he traveled around the country running for president, making grandiose statements and promises, which are just not true.

Lauer again tried to portray Ryan as dishonest in another part of the speech: "Let's talk about the example using the Simpson-Bowles recommendations....you voted against sending those recommendations to the Senate, basically killing any further action on them. Didn't you owe it to the people in that room to say that as well?"

Ryan refuted: "But if you read the next paragraph, I said Republicans offered alternatives....The President didn't do that. The President didn't offer a budget to fix the problem. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in three years."

After having his attacks repeatedly rebuffed by Ryan, later on the show, Lauer turned to the left-wing Today's Professional panel to launch yet another amazingly petty assault on Ryan's honesty: "From the 'you can't handle the truth' department. [Paul Ryan] got in a little bit of hot water when he fudged his results from a marathon that he ran several years ago, he said he ran it in the low threes, or under three, meaning two hours plus....he ran it in over four hours."

Only advertising executive Donny Deutsch dismissed the supposed controversy: "I think that if you tape recorded every human being 24/7 for a number of years, without knowing it, there might be a slip of the tongue."

Lauer quickly argued: "But he's running for vice president." Attorney Star Jones agreed: "He's running for vice president, okay? No, you don't get a pass on that."

Deutsch attempted to explain the absurdity of the accusation: "He's not lying about policy....there's no motive." Jones continued to rant: "But why lie?...But why lie? Donny, why lie?"

Lauer encouraged the "lie" label: "Do you think he didn't remember or you think he fudged it?...by the way, just about everybody who's ever run a marathon can tell you exactly what time they ran...They can tell you exactly."


Here is a full transcript of Lauer's September 4 interview with Ryan:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan joins us to talk about where he thinks the presidential race is headed and criticism that he's played fast and loose with the truth.

7:05AM ET SEGMENT:

MATT LAUER: Paul Ryan is the vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket. Congressman Ryan, it's nice to have you on the show. Good morning.

PAUL RYAN: Hey, good to be with you, Matt.

LAUER: Thank you very much. You know, your speech last Wednesday night at the convention is still getting a lot of attention. There are some people who are claiming that you played a little fast and loose with the truth on certain key elements. And I'm not just talking about Democratic analysts, I'm talking about some independent fact checkers. Would you concede that while many of the things you said were effective, some were not completely accurate?

RYAN: No, not in the least, actually. What they're trying to suggest is that I said that Barack Obama was responsible for our plant shutdown in Janesville. That is not what I was saying. Read the speech. What I was saying is the President ought to be held to account for his broken promises. After our plant was shut down he said that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the Janesville plant to get people back to work. It's still idle, people are still not working there. Lots of people I grew up with who lost their jobs there still don't have those jobs there. So my point was not to lay blame on the plant shutdown, it was, this is yet another example of the President's broken promises. In 2008, he traveled all around the country making promises that he broke, just like the one in Janesville.

LAUER: I not only read the speech, but I listened to it as well. And in my opinion, it seemed like you were unmistakably trying to link the President's promise with the closing of that plant, which you know obviously, closed before he became president.

RYAN: The promise was that he was going to open the plant. The promise was he was going to lead an effort to retool the plant so that people go back to work and it would be open for another hundred years, he said. So the point is, he filled people with all this hope as he traveled around the country running for president, making grandiose statements and promises, which are just not true. Look, he said he'd cut the deficit in half in four years, he didn't do that. He said that if we passed the stimulus, unemployment would never get above 8%, it's been above 8% for 42 months. And so, I know they don't like the fact that we point these facts out that they made a lot of promises that did not materialize. Janesville was just yet one more example of that.

LAUER: Let's talk about the example using the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. You said on Wednesday night in that speech, quote, "President Obama created a new bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanks them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing," end quote. But you were one of the seven members of that panel, and you voted against sending those recommendations to the Senate, basically killing any further action on them. Didn't you owe it to the people in that room to say that as well?

RYAN: But if you read the next paragraph, I said Republicans offered alternatives. So here's my point. Just because I didn't like that report, because I don't think it solved the problem, I didn't think it actually fixed the problem of runaway health care entitlement spending, I authored and passed through the House an alternative. What we did was we took the things we liked in Simpson-Bowles, added new reform ideas, and we passed alternatives, that's my point.

The President didn't do that. The President didn't offer a budget to fix the problem. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in three years. So on Simpson-Bowles, it's not that whether that was a good or a bad plan, it's that if you don't like that plan, then you owe the country an alternative, which is what we did, which is not what President Obama did. Matt, we're going to have a debt crisis soon if we don't fix this mess and the President has not shown us the leadership...

LAUER: Let me ask you-

RYAN: ...he needs to, to prevent that from happening.

LAUER: Let me ask about something that was – that was not mentioned in your speech or Governor Romney's speech last week at the convention, and that's Afghanistan. This is a war that's consumed much of our time and attention and money and the sacrifices of so many men and women over the last 11 years. You didn't mention it once, neither did Governor Romney. He's asking Americans to make him the next commander in chief. How can you not mention that war?

RYAN: Well, I think you have to remember the day before his speech, Mitt Romney went to the American Legion and gave a lengthy speech on the topic. He was invited by the American Legion, he did that, and he gave a lengthy speech on the topic just the day before.

LAUER: Let me end on a more personal note. You know that over the next couple of months you and your family are going to face enormous scrutiny. You've got a wife and three young children. Are you at all worried about the impact this race and this process will have on your family?

RYAN: Janna and I discussed that quite a bit. You know, months ago when I agreed to go through the vetting process, we talked about it, we prayed about it. And we just came to the conclusion that this is such a unique time in our country's history that we really have a chance to get this country on the right track. We're on the wrong track. People are not better off than they were four years ago. And because of the enormity of the challenges facing the country and the leadership that I've tried to provide, we just think that it's such a unique moment that we should serve in this capacity. And so sure, you always worry about your children. You always worry about your wife and your family. But we care so deeply about this country, about getting people back to work, about turning things around, that we're willing to do this.

LAUER: Congressman Paul Ryan, the vice presidential candidate on the Republican side. Congressman, it's nice of you to spend time with us this morning.

RYAN: Yeah, thanks, Matt, take care.

LAUER: Alright, thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC