The truth is supposed to matter most

President Obama told business leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that U.S. policymakers have been “a little bit lazy” when it comes to attracting businesses to American soil. Republicans have taken this line and said the president called Americans “lazy.” They’re lying.

It’s been pleasantly surprised by the number of news outlets who’ve been willing to tell the public the truth. Usually, it’s up to blogs to set the record straight — in this case, MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, Slate, Time, ABC, and National Journal have all said Republicans are taking Obama’s comments out of context. Good for them.

And then there’s Politico, which ran a 1,300 word piece that emphasized Republicans’ use of the out-of-context quote, while downplaying the relevant detail: Republicans are misleading the public.

A video clip of President Barack Obama calling America “a little bit lazy” is quickly becoming a focus of Republican campaigns, and GOP operatives say it will get plenty of play not only on the presidential battlefield but also in down-ballot congressional races.

Alec MacGillis explained the problem with this kind of coverage.

Not until the bottom of the first page does the article get into detail on whether the quote was taken out of context, and even then, it puts that counter into the mouths of Democratic operatives, as if it was beyond the scope or ability of the reporters to make that judgment themselves. And why would they want to knock it down, anyway? If they do, then there’s no story, and no reason to engage in all manner of speculation, as the article proceeds to do for two more pages.

Politico‘s report is one of those stories that’s frustrating to read. The piece is 30 paragraphs long, not about Republicans deceiving people, but about how explosive the misleading attacks are. What matters, according to the cynical Politico article, is the way in which the GOP is exploiting an opportunity, not whether that exploitation is accurate, fair, or advancing the public debate.

That’s just not how quality political journalism is supposed to work.

In the meantime, the DNC has a good new video out, responding to the Republican attacks.