IS IT ALREADY TOO LATE FOR THE TRUTH?…. Immediately after Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled his recommendations for restructuring military spending — and boosting the Pentagon budget by $21 billion (4%) — the response was immediate: the Obama administration is trying to cut defense in a time of war. It wasn’t true. It didn’t matter.

What I’m wondering now is whether, to paraphrase Twain, it’s too late for the truth to get its pants on.

David Kurtz flagged this exchange on MSNBC this afternoon, during an interview with former Defense Secretary William Cohen. The chyron told viewers that Gates has announced “deep cuts in military spending,” even though that’s clearly false. MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer asked Cohen to address the administration’s proposed “cuts” — not “what some are calling ‘cuts,’” just matter-of-fact “cuts,” as if this were plainly true.

Cohen eventually noted, “By the way, it’s not a cut. It’s a four percent increase.”

But I get the sense the train has the left the station, and it’s not coming back. News outlets — including real ones, not Fox News — have already accepted the bogus notion that Gates’ plan cuts defense spending. Republican lawmakers aren’t just repeating the false claim, they’re practically apoplectic about it. The political world has apparently skipped right over the “some critics of the administration charge….” and gone right to accepting false GOP talking points as fact without debate.

Our political discourse can be awfully frustrating sometimes.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.