WaPo's Robinson Hypes Bogus Report on Obama's Spending His Own Paper Debunked

NewsBusters reported Friday that the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave a MarketWatch piece claiming President Obama's "spending binge never happened" three pinocchios for its utter falsehoods.

On Monday, the Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and former assistant managing editor Eugene Robinson actually misrepresented his own paper's findings to hype the thoroughly debunked MarketWatch piece and bash Mitt Romney:

An analysis published last week by MarketWatch, a financial news Web site owned by Dow Jones & Co., compared the yearly growth of federal spending under presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. Citing figures from the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, MarketWatch concluded that “there has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.”

Quite the contrary: Spending has increased at a yearly rate of only 1.4 percent during Obama’s tenure, even if you include some stimulus spending (in the 2009 fiscal year) that technically should be attributed to President George W. Bush. This is by far the smallest — I repeat, smallest — increase in spending of any recent president. (The Washington Post’s Fact Checker concluded the spending increase figure should have been 3.3 percent.)

Notice that Robinson included only one point from his own paper's fact-check and actually got it wrong.

According to Kessler, "Under these figures, and using this calculator, with 2008 as the base year and ending with 2012, the compound annual growth rate for Obama’s spending starting in 2009 is 5.2 percent. Starting in 2010 — Nutting’s first year — and ending with 2013, the annual growth rate is 3.3 percent."

As such, Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, actually misrepresented his own paper's findings. He then cited another fact-checker to make readers ignore his own paper's:

The MarketWatch analysis was re-analyzed by the nonpartisan watchdogs at Politifact who found it “Mostly True” — adding the qualifier because some of the restraint in spending under Obama “was fueled by demands from congressional Republicans.” Duly noted, and if Romney wants to claim credit for the GOP, he’s free to do so. But he’s not free to say that “federal spending has accelerated” under Obama, because any way you look at it, that’s a lie.


Well, Robinson's own paper looked at it and found MarketWatch and the White House were the ones stretching the truth:

[White House press secretary Jay] Carney suggested the media were guilty of “sloth and laziness,” but he might do better next time than cite an article he plucked off the Web, no matter how much it might advance his political interests. The data in the article are flawed, and the analysis lacks context — context that could easily could be found in the budget documents released by the White House.

The White House might have a case that some of the rhetoric concerning Obama’s spending patterns has been overblown, but the spokesman should do a better job of checking his facts before accusing reporters of failing to do so. The picture is not as rosy as he portrayed it when accurate numbers, taken in context, are used.

Exit question: Did Robinson actually read Kessler's piece and just not understand it, or is he so in the bag for Obama that he's willing to refute his own paper by misrepresenting it and going counter to its findings?

Makes you wonder which team Robinson thinks he's on.

(HT Byron York)

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.