At the Republican National Convention last night, Paul Ryan told so many demonstrable lies, he raised important questions about his character and what's left of his integrity. What matters next, however, is whether anyone notices.
It's come as something of a relief to see so many media professionals go after Ryan for his dishonesty last night. The Huffington Post homepage this morning featured an all-caps headline that read, "Paul Tales: Ryan Misleads Again & Again." The AP ran a decent fact-checking piece; the center-right Washington Post editorial board raised concerns about Ryan's "misleading" rhetoric; and the center-left Boston Globe editorial board said Ryan's lying "may hurt his own credibility."
I'm well aware of the fact that the vast majority of Americans will never see any of this scrutiny, but other reporters, editors, and producers will, and if a consensus begins to emerge that Romney/Ryan is fundamentally dishonest, this is likely to influence the public's perceptions of the race.
But let's not ignore those inclined to give Ryan a pass. Howard Kurtz said last night's speech included "distortions," but it didn't matter, because the speech "worked." Similarly, Charles Mahtesian noted some of Ryan's more obvious falsehoods, but said the dishonesty was irrelevant -- "This was a political speech, not a policy seminar, and style, tone and rhetoric mattered as much as anything else. By those measures, Ryan scored big."
Chris Cillizza named Ryan one of the night's "winners," for "eloquently" delivering a well-written speech "packed with great lines." What about all of the claims in the speech that were obviously untrue? Cillizza didn't mention it. Evaluating "delivery" matters; evaluating the truth is someone else's job.
And as we talked about earlier, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett briefly acknowledged the fact that Ryan's claims were wrong, but dismissed the importance of the falsehoods because he "motivated" Republicans.
Not to put too fine a point on this, Ryan, like his running mate, tells obvious falsehoods because he's confident there will be no consequences. He simply assumes he can lie with impunity because the media doesn't care to separate fact from fiction.
This is a critical test of the political world, and a few too many are failing.