Worst News Story of 2012?

This Reuters hit piece on Marco Rubio–nowadays, when I talk about Rubio, I have to stop and think whether it’s Marco or Ricky–is an early contender for the title. Reuters’ theme is that Rubio criticizes extravagant federal spending and deficits, but has had financial problems himself. The article is basically one false statement after another, leavened with quotes from Democratic strategists. At the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis deconstructs it:

By my count, there were at least 7 errors or exaggerations:

1. “Rubio also voted against Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who is of Puerto Rican descent…”

(Rubio wasn’t even in the senate then.)

2. “He soon had [his house] appraised for $735,000 and took out a second mortgage for $135,000.”

(Rubio did not take out a second mortgage. He took out a home equity line, which is a line of credit secured by the value of the home.)

3. “In 2008, despite earning a declared $400,000 – including his $300,000 salary from the Miami law firm Broad and Cassel – Rubio failed to make a payment on his home for several months”

(Rubio never failed to make payments on his mortgage on his home. He did miss a payment on a second house that he co-owns in Tallahassee because of miscommunication with the bank and the other owner; but it was remedied immediately and was not caused by any financial problems.)

4. “During the same period he did not make payments on a $100,000-plus student loan from his days at the University of Miami, the disclosures said.”

(As far as I can tell, this is simply untrue. He has never missed a payment on his student loans.)

5. “He frequently had used his party credit card for personal use, and later reimbursed the party for about $16,000.”

(Rubio paid American Express directly. The party never paid any expenses, and therefore there was no need to reimburse them.)

6. “Before joining the Senate last year, he was caught up in an Internal Revenue Service investigation of the Florida Republican Party’s use of party-issued credit cards.”

(Rubio’s office tells me they have never been contacted about an IRS investigation.)

7 “Rubio owes far more on his $384,000 Miami home than it is worth, and at times has had difficulty paying his mortgage”

(Senator Rubio has never missed a payment on his Miami home.)

A Daily Caller reader added another one: “Isn’t Reuters statement about Health Care Law wrong too? Passed in 2010. Rubio took office 2011.” That’s right; Reuters wrote that Rubio voted against Obamacare, but, as with Sotomayor’s nomination, he wasn’t in the Senate yet.

This kind of journalistic incompetence is stunning. How can any reporter–here, David Adams of Reuters–write that Rubio voted a certain way, without even checking to make sure he was in office at the time? And where did the false idea come from in the first place?

Reuters, to its great humiliation, has now issued five corrections. Is that a record?

Removes words “and at times has had difficulty paying his mortgage,” paragraph 7; removes “he did not make payments on a $100,000-plus student loan” and instead states “he did not pay down the balance of a $100,000-plus student loan,” paragraph 10; removes “he was caught up in an Internal Revenue Service Investigation” and instead states “his name surfaced in an Internal Revenue Service investigation,” paragraph 12; removes “voted against Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee” and instead states “opposed President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor,” paragraph 41; removes “voted against Obama’s healthcare overhaul” and instead states “opposed Obama’s healthcare overhaul,” paragraph 41)

The year is young, but this debacle will be a finalist when the time comes to recognize the year’s most inept news story. This is, of course, battlefield preparation. Reporters know that Rubio is going to be a major player on the national scene, so they are doing what they can to protect their party by taking him down a peg.

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