Reuters pulls blatantly wrong tax story

REUTERS PULLS BLATANTLY WRONG TAX STORY…. Reuters ran a lengthy item yesterday claiming that the Obama administration’s budget plan includes “backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families.” It also used right-wing phrasing (“death tax”) as if it were legitimate, and said the middle-class has already been hit with higher taxes.

The story was completely, demonstrably wrong, but it was heavily promoted by Republican activists, including sitting atop Drudge’s homepage as recently as this morning. Reuters, fortunately, withdrew its article last night, following evidence from the White House that it was filled with “errors of fact.”

The story, which claimed the White House’s deficit reduction plan relies on raising taxes against the middle class by allowing tax cuts to expire, was withdrawn at about 8 p.m. Monday, according to Yahoo timestamps. The original story ran at 4 p.m. The withdrawal promises a replacement story later this week.

“The story went out, and it shouldn’t have gone out,” said Courtney Dolan, a spokeswoman for Reuters. “It had significant errors of fact.”

She would not elaborate on the specific errors, but said Reuters will “address those specific points that were incorrect.”

“The White House did contact us and point out errors of fact,” she added.

On some points, the Reuters report made claims that were literally backwards.

I’ll look forward to Reuters’ follow-up report this week, but I’d be especially interested in knowing how this article was edited and published in the first place.

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Steve Benen

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.