Dionne 1, Hatch 0

DIONNE 1, HATCH 0…. Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday has generated quite a bit of criticism lately, and for good reason — it was an embarrassing mess, filled with obvious and demonstrable falsehoods.

It was encouraging, then, to see the Washington Post‘s E.J. Dionne Jr. use his column today to call out the conservative Utahan for publishing dishonest arguments.

Right off, the piece was wrong on a core fact. Hatch accused the Democrats of trying to, yes, “ram through the Senate a multitrillion-dollar health-care bill.”

No. The health-care bill passed the Senate in December with 60 votes under the normal process. The only thing that would pass under a simple majority vote would be a series of amendments that fit comfortably under the “reconciliation” rules established to deal with money issues. […]

Hatch grandly cited “America’s Founders” as wanting the Senate to be about “deliberation.” But the Founders said nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster, let alone “reconciliation.” Judging from what they put in the actual document, the Founders would be appalled at the idea that every major bill should need the votes of three-fifths of the Senate to pass.

Dionne also explained that Hatch deliberately misled readers about quotes from his Senate colleagues and misstated the record in terms of Senate use of reconciliation. The columnist concluded that he’s “disappointed in Hatch.”

What Dionne did not touch on is why the Post published Hatch’s piece in the first place, given its obvious misstatements of fact and lies that even contradicted the paper’s own reporting.

As far as the Post‘s editors are concerned, this may have worked out well — readers got to read “one side” on Tuesday and “another side” on Thursday. It’s a celebration of diversity of perspectives.

Except, of course, it’s not. The paper published one piece with blatant falsehoods, and another piece with the truth. Both were presented as opinion pieces, leaving the reader to ponder which of the two is accurate.

It’s not the job of a newspaper’s editorial section to publish lies and facts separately, leaving the public to figure it out.