Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
Last week, I explained that Newsbuster's Tom Blumer had a bit of trouble reading an AP article he criticized. See, Blumer quoted a paragraph that was clearly referring to Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer - and then attacked it for downplaying Tim Geithner's tax troubles.
But the paragraph didn't have anything to do with Geithner. Here's the first clue: the paragraph began, "An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday." Guess what? The Geithner story played out before last Tuesday. And here's how the paragraph ended: "rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on." Guess what? The administration didn't drop Geithner; it stood by him, and he was confirmed as Treasury Secretary.
In other words, it is completely obvious that the paragraph wasn't about Tim Geithner in any way. Yet Blumer huffed that it was "beyond risible" because the AP reporter "knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"
Well, it turns out that Tom Blumer responded to my post. Incredibly, he stands by his misreading of the paragraph in question. Well, sort of. Here's Blumer:
As to the accusation of misreading the fifth paragraph -- Nice try, no sale. Of course, "Tuesday's nominees" in the fifth paragraph weren't Geithner or Daschle; but the "old story" Babington referred to was all about them. Babington made it look as if Tuesday's nominees had the same problem as the previous nominees (taxes on "household help and other services). That's obviously not the case.
Blumer wants you to think he knew all along that "Tuesday's nominees" wasn't a reference to Geithner. This is nonsense for a couple of reasons, the first being that the phrase "Tuesday's nominees" didn't appear in the AP article. Blumer invented it, then put it in quotes. Second ... well, decide for yourself. Here's the AP paragraph in question:
An old story, with new actors, played out Tuesday: A new president's team imperfectly vetted top nominees. The nominees, it turns out, had not paid taxes for household help or other services when they were private citizens. The news media and political adversaries bored in. And rather than spend more valuable time and political capital defending the appointees, the administration dropped them and moved on.
And here's what Blumer said about it: "This is beyond risible. Babington knows full well that Tim Geithner's and Tom Daschle's tax problems went way, way beyond 'household help or other services.'"
Does that sound like someone who knew that the paragraph wasn't about Geithner? Of course not. He thought it was about Geithner, it clearly wasn't, so now he's trying to pretend that he knew all along that it wasn't. Except that he's also asserting that it really was about Geithner, by claiming "the 'old story' Babington referred to was all about them."
Well, that doesn't fly, either. I'll explain this once again, and for Blumer's benefit, I'll use the smallest words I can think of:
Tim Geithner's story didn't play out last Tuesday.
The administration (oops: "White House") didn't drop him and move on - last Tuesday or any other time.
Therefore, the "old story" cannot be "all about" him; his story does not fit the "old story" Babington described.
Also, Geithner's story isn't all that old; it happened a couple of weeks ago.
So what did "an old story" refer to? It obviously referred to a history of nominees of both parties whose confirmations ran trouble because of tax problems.
Bottom line: The paragraph in question doesn't say a word about Tim Geithner, and Tom Blumer attacked it as though it did. When his error was pointed out, he asserts that the phrase "old story" referred to Geithner. But it didn't, for painfully obvious reasons.
Blumer concluded his response: "I recommend remedial reading and comprehension courses for MM's 'County Fair.'"
No, really, he did.