The proliferation of conservative media outlets would be less dejecting if they were just a little better at their jobs.

The Daily Caller told its readers yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency is eyeing new greenhouse gas measures, which would in turn ask American taxpayers “to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.”

Because of the way conservative media works, the Daily Caller‘s piece was immediately picked up by Fox News, National Review, and others.

Now, just at face value, one would like to think conservatives would have some critical thinking skills. The EPA only has 17,000 employees. If a proposal were on the table to grow the agency by more than 10 times, just to implement one new set of regulations, one might stop and think, “That doesn’t seem quite right.”

But even putting aside common sense, the even bigger problem here is that the Daily Caller and the conservative outlets that trumpeted its piece simply got the story backwards. Kate Sheppard explained:

[T]he story actually managed to pull that [230,000] number from a court filing about what the EPA is trying to avoid. In the court filing, the EPA is defending its rule that would only limit emissions from the largest sources of greenhouse gases. The so-called “tailoring rule” is designed to reduce the regulatory burden that setting rules for all emission sources could create, the EPA argues.

Got that? The EPA is “tailoring” its rule, phasing it in over time, so it won’t be necessary to do what the right fears.

Ironically, polluters have filed suit to block the EPA’s “tailoring rule,” claiming the agency doesn’t have the authority. Sheppard added:

If the challengers are successful in getting the court to throw out the tailoring rule, the EPA would have to start going after all sources of emissions — creating exactly the kind of unmanageable regulatory burden that the EPA’s brief warns of. Only then would the Daily Caller and Fox News have the crazy bureaucratic nightmare that they’re currently (and falsely) ginning up fears about.

Even for conservative media, this is just egregious. It keeps getting easier to understand why so many on the right seem so confused about so many issues — they’re relying on news organizations that give them wildly wrong information.

Steve Benen

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.