Ryan Lizza's deceptive editing of Jeb Bush shows how awful the media are at covering conservatives

Most everyone groupthinked their way to roughly the same thoughtless, gotcha! analysis as Lizza. The examples are too numerous to catalogue, sadly. Not everyone, thankfully. A special shout out should be given to The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs, who early on put Lizza’s two-word quote in slightly more context, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza who noted that the Lizza interpretation was not accurate, Jonathan Chait’s condemnation of the false interpretation in New York magazine, and a few others.

Perhaps the most embarrassing thing was that within moments a reporter teed up a question for President Obama to respond to the deceptively edited phrase. He did what you expected with the perfectly teed-up question. Imagine, instead, if the reporter class was smart enough or even simply non-hacky enough to understand the philosophical debate in play and challenged Obama on his call for federal action in light of Bush’s comments. They were too busy following his category error chart-making orders, it seems. (Vox is one thing. Et tu, CNN?)

Lizza has struggled with accurately conveying quotes of people with whom he has differences previously (see, for example, “A Journalism Lesson for the New Yorker“). But when he should have apologized for how his two-word deceptive edit of the quote was interpreted in a manner near the opposite of what Bush was actually saying, he instead dug in. At the very least this is a lesson about whether to believe Lizza’s interpretation of events.

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