Accuracy in Media

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell was so eager to pounce on the Mitt Romney campaign that he wound up reporting satire as fact, leaving egg all over his face.

O’Donnell drew his attack from a story written by Roger Simon in Politico on Tuesday. O’Donnell quickly seized upon the part of the story that said that not only was Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan distancing himself from the Romney campaign, but that he was now referring to Romney as “The Stench.”

That excited O’Donnell so much that he spent 13 minutes on Tuesday talking about it on his show. The only problem was that it wasn’t true. Oops.

The Last Word blog issued an apology in trying to put the matter behind them:

Roger Simon at Politico included a few lines of satire in his latest column titled “Paul Ryan vs. The Stench” and some of his satirical anecdotes were so subtle that many, including The Last Word staff, missed the joke.

We tried to book Roger Simon yesterday to discuss his piece but he was unavailable. Had he been a guest on the show, it obviously would have been clear that his piece was not meant to be taken literally. We regret and apologize for presenting some of the quotes in Roger Simon’s piece the way we did.

Yes, blame it on the staff, so as not to tarnish the reputation of O’Donnell.

The show’s defense of this boneheaded reporting is that they didn’t catch the satire, but if they had been able to get Simon on the program this would have never happened? How about a little fact checking? It wouldn’t have been very hard to find the truth in this case.

Instead, the only real stench is coming from O’Donnell and his colleagues at MSNBC with their reporting about conservatives and Republicans during this campaign.

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