Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are primarily known as political satirists, but on Thursday night they were both in fact-checker mode, marking up Paul Ryan’s keynote speech with their metaphorical red pens.
On “The Daily Show,” Stewart was struck by the contrast between Ryan’s reputation as a policy-focused, “speaker of hard truths” and his speech, which, though well-delivered, was short on specfics and long on the whoppers.
Stewart took Ryan -- a.k.a. “Chiseled Chin McNicey Face” -- to task for making misleading claims about Medicare funding and the failure of a proposed bipartisan debt commission. But Stewart got his biggest applause when he addressed Ryan’s suggestion that a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., had been shut down under President Obama’s watch.
“Siri, who was president in June 2008?” Stewart asked his non-existent iPhone. The answer was, of course, George Bush.
Self-appointed defender of “truthiness” Colbert was even harder on Ryan, and especially on the media pundits who shrugged off his inaccuracies by saying the speech was more about “big ideas” than actual facts.
Tongue planted in cheek, Colbert agreed: “Yes, huge ideas! Ideas like ‘lying is handy. ‘ “
“If we cared about facts, would Warren G. Harding have invented the cotton gin?” he wondered. “Would President Reagan have won the 1987 NBA slam-dunk contest? No!”
Colbert rationalized Ryan’s looseness with the facts by saying, “To win a race, sometimes you need to juice. Ryan stretching the truth to make his speech more effective is just another form of doping, in that if you believe him, you are a dope.”
He closed by quoting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. “If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth, but for the purposes of my speech, I’m going to say that was Barack Obama.”
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