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Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Politics | 35 comments

Roger Simon’s Paul Ryan Goes Rogue and Refers to “Stench” Romney Turns Out Was “Satire” (Updated)

NOTE TO READERS:Do you mind if I don’t laugh? It turns out that we (and many many other news sites that pick it up) learn that the Roger Simon post below was simply a satire.

This is a formal RETRACTION — TMV was doing when we checked our gmail so that person who emailed us with abusive language claiming we don’t correct errors should go way down south in the hot climes.

Go here to see Buzzfeed’s post about The Politico’s post by Roger Simon that was in the form of a news report with unnamed sources saying Paul Ryan had gone rogue and was calling Mitt Romney “The Stench.” Click on the link and you’ll see some of the bigger sites that also believed the post.

I like many others took it seriously because a)Roger Simon doesn’t usually write satire (and now we know why), b)I greatly respect(ed) him as a news source since he often used in his posts and also on cable shows indicated he was well-sourced and as a former fulltime reporter I respect journalists who have good sources c)at the time I didn’t see any indication on that post that it was anything but serious (I didn’t read every single word as clearly others didn’t). Unless I missed it (and perhaps I did with the other indications that it was a satire) at the BOTTOM of this satire there is now this small italic note.

To the Politico: Don’t you think that is SO MANY SITES as you can see on this google link linked on that post thinking it was real since it was written by a veteran reporter, that you might put the italicized note now on TOP of that post?

GO HERE and see how it is displayed.
Now GO HERE and you can see the little italic on the second page. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn’t see that there yesterday (and it could be I did but then if so all those other sites that picked it up did?).

This is now being framed as a case of sites that should have known better due to some of the more absurd passages. But if The Politico’s piece was successful satire it would have been seen as that: funny satire that you could tell was just that. This sounded like one more amazing story from the world of 21st century politics where old rules (in this case deference) are tossed to the winds. Or like one of those fake posts or stories someone does that turns out to be a hoax after many websites trusted the source material (which they are less likely to do in the future) Read Slate here.

Real satire is amusing because there’s no question it is just that. You know Mad Magazine and SNL are satires or parodies.

In the print realm go HERE to The Borowitz Report. No one mistakes his bits of brilliant satire for real reports and we’ve even run THIS JUST IN! posts calling Borowitz “investigative reporter Andy Borowitz.” No one has ever read a post and felt it was true.

I’ve dabbled in satire myself, in the 60 writing on The Hindustan Times in New Delhi when I interned there and online in the early 2000s in my earliest version of TMV. And I’ve done some of my nationally syndicated Cagle columns in satire form. GO HERE to see one — and note there is no question what it is.

>So: apologies to Mr. Ryan, apologies to Mr. Romney, apologies to our readers. We’re sure The Politico won’t apologize to anyone even though many others concluded it was a real report, as shocking as its (phony) allegations were. Mr. Simon may be a great reporter but I suspect Andy Borowitz won’t be asking ask him to be his fill-in weekend blogger.

Oh. No apologies for the person who sent the abusive email or for my travel suggestion here on where he should go. I think that’d be a nice fit.

And we won’t delete (this time) the original post. Here it is.

The bottom line: We regret the error.

THIS IS THE ORIGINAL POST picked up via a link displayed on another site that led to the Politico article.

Are we now witnessing the second Vice President on a Republican ticket in four years “go rogue”? Is Paul Ryan fed up with what some see as his Romneyization by the Romney camp? Is he following 2008 Vice Presidential nominee’s advice to “go rogue”? Or both? Yes, expect Camp Romney and Camp Ryan to try and paper over this report. But the Politico’s Roger Simon is a trustworthy, experienced reporter. And his report is getting a lot of buzz:

Paul Ryan has gone rogue. He is unleashed, unchained, off the hook.

“I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday.

Coming from a resident of Iowa, a state where people are polite even to soybeans, this was a powerful condemnation of the Republican nominee.

Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.”

Have we ever heard of a winning Presidential ticket in American politics that had a Vice Presidential candidate have an attitude like this about his running mate? Talk about a total lack of deference (or respect). MORE:

Even before the stench article appeared, there was a strong sign that Ryan was freeing himself from the grips of the Romney campaign. It began after his disastrous appearance on Friday before AARP in New Orleans. Ryan delivered his remarks in the style dictated by his Romney handlers: Stand behind the lectern, read the speech as written and don’t stray from the script.

Ryan brought his 78-year-old mother with him and introduced her to the audience, which is usually a sure crowd pleaser.

But when Ryan began talking about repealing “Obamacare” because he said it would harm seniors, one woman in the crowd shouted, “Lie!” Another shouted “Liar!” and the crowd booed Ryan lustily.

Who boos a guy in front of his 78-year-old mother? Other 78-year-old mothers.

There is one aspect to this that is not usually discussed. The Vice President selection is one of the most anti-democratic parts of our political process. The nominee gets to pick a person and then it is understood whomever he or she points to will be swallowed by the part and annointed really by finger pointing, with a vote as an afterthought, by the nominee. Viewed within this context, why would a Vice Presidential nominee have to be totally controlled by the Presidential candidate? He or she has the nomination and is running. MORE

According to Simon, shortly after that Ryan “broke free.” He started doing presentations his own way:

He did a PowerPoint presentation for the crowd. According to the National Journal, be began thusly: “ ‘I’m kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you’ll bear with me,’ Ryan told the audience as he began clicking through four slides, which showed graphs depicting U.S. debt held by the public from 1940 to present, debt per person in the United States, percentage of debt held by foreign countries and a breakdown of federal spending. He then launched into a 10-minute monologue on the federal debt.”

Ryan’s PowerPoint slides were officially labeled: “Our Unsustainable Debt (U.S. Debt Held by Public as a Share of Economy),” “Your Share of the Debt,” “Who Funds Our Reckless Spending?” and “How the Government Spends Your Money.”

The Romney campaign was furious. But Ryan reportedly said, “Let Ryan be Ryan and let the Stench be the Stench.”

Very bad news for Romney: (1)If his own running mate isn’t treating him with respect or as if he already has the majesty of the Oval Office surrounding him, who will? (2)Vice Presidential candidates have almost always been deferential to the person at the top of the ticket. (3)Even reports about Sarah Palin didn’t have her calling McCain names. (4)The talk about let Ryan be Ryan underscores the thirst many GOPers have for a genuine candidate who is known for not just conservative ideas but talking in terms of specificity.

P.S. Expect Romney and Ryan to say all is well and for operatives to deny the story. But Roger Simon isn’t a reporter who makes things up and he cannot be accused of being a Democratic operative or a closet member of MSNBC.

Just think about it: when have we seen a Vice Presidential candidate talk about the top of the ticket this way? The spin will be that it’s all a joke — which would mean Simon’s article is wrong.

Given other factoids emerging about the Romney campaign this fits into a pattern even a can of dogfood on the shelf of Safeway can see about the Romney campaign:

Not a good one.

Follow more blog reaction to this post HERE.

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  • Un-freaking-believable.

  • Argon

    Hmm… Well, I suppose one should have expected this from a ‘me first’ acolyte of Ayn Rand and a person dedicated to bomb throwing over legislating.

  • The_Ohioan

    The link doesn’t work, but even Daily Kos isn’t buying this one. They link to the Roger Simon article and I read it there and it and some of his other articles read like a piece from the Onion. Either Mr. Simon is over indulging or he’s working toward a new job at the Onion. I simply don’t buy it after having read the Simon article and some of his other articles on Mitt.

    PS After seeing the Mitt tape on plane windows, I’m convinced he was really joking – maybe about the whole thing including the danger.

    As DK says, you can’t tell news from snark anymore.

  • ShannonLeee

    Whether the report is correct or not does not change the fact that Romney is hurting Ryan’s brand quite badly. I wrote about this possibility a while ago and still think this to be true. Ryan might not had said any of those things, but he will be shortly.

  • I fixed the link. Two things: a)as I noted yesterday blogs don’t go and re-report each story they quote or write about, talking to the principles, checking each quote and source. b)The Politico has not corrected or retracted this story. Which means it stands as a story that one of their most experienced columnist/reporters has published. There are no updates on the original story.

  • zephyr

    It’s no secret that Romney and Ryan aren’t exactly cut from the same cloth. Nor is there any doubt in my mind that Ryan has political ambitions that go beyond being Romney’s sidekick. So if he sees R & R as a sinking ship, then why wouldn’t he go rogue? My question is this, if Romney goes down in flames, will the GOP think they didn’t go hard enough to the right, or will they finally start getting a handle on their “troubles”?

  • ShannonLeee

    The problem with both Palin and Ryan was that both were too young and ambitious to see that running as VP before you are ready can be very damaging.

    Granted, Palin has made some serious bank, but her career as a politician is dead. The question for Ryan is, how does he salvage his career from this mess?

  • DaGoat

    I have a high regard for Politico but this report sounds pretty questionable. I would take a wait-and-see approach on this one.

  • The_Ohioan

    Just checked the Politico/Simon website again. Some of those other articles which sounded just as flakey as this one are now gone.?!

    Think I’ll wait a couple of days, also. I see it’s not on MSNBC today so maybe they are as unsure about it as I am. I have great respect for Mr. Simon but this just sounds too much like a Brietbart type dirty trick. It’s not first person reporting, after all.

  • The_Ohioan

    Update from mediaite

    Update: Simon tells Buzzfeed that his column was something called “satire,” which normally wouldn’t include what Simon thinks it does, like “describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle,” which is self-evident hyperbole, not satire, and normally is used in service of a larger, central critique (like, maybe, Politico‘s egregious use of blind quotes, or the mainstream media’s sudden interest in Peggy Noonan), not just to fill space at Politico. In any case, Buzzfeed lists us as an outlet that was “fooled” by Simon’s not-actually-satire, but in my defense, I used scare-quotes in the headline, and correctly identified the remarks themselves as satirical in nature. Roger Simon has reportedly apologized abjectly, saying “Tommy Christopher is absolutely right, I have no idea what the f*ck ‘satire’ means. I should really just STFU right about now.”

  • ordinarysparrow

    Seems rather credible with the Republican platform of ‘rugged me’ rather than us…”I built and won that Vice Presidency all by myself…”

  • DaGoat

    Thanks for the links TO. What it shows is the people who were predisposed to believe this sort of thing swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

  • Rambie

    I think Zephyr is correct, maybe this is rumor for now, but if Ryan sees the campaign failing I don’t doubt he’d try to save his own political carrier. I can’t blame him for that either.

    The Tea Party grew out of the 2008 election, when some in the GOP, attributed the loss to the party not being “conservative” enough. If the President wins a second term, I hope they will NOT go even more extreme.

  • NO IT IS A SATIRE. Yours truly has vital non blogging things to do and I won’t put here or in my update soon about my feelings on this. I will be retitling this post and leave it on top for a few hours then take off the top. OH: I withdraw my comments defending Roger Simon. I have written LOTS OF SATIRE and it’s always in a way so there is no question that it is satire. It will take me a long time before I read his stuff again during this campaign because this site and others fell for it. I see he now has a little italic UNDER his post not ON TOP. My clarification will be ON TOP of this post – but, then we don’t have the hits that The Politico does. If we keep linking on September Fools jokes like that post, then we’ll have even less. So we will not.

    Re-read this post in about 20 minutes

  • roro80

    What it shows is the people who were predisposed to believe this sort of thing swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

    Just like the airplane window, this is two things: (1) if nobody can tell you’re joking, you’re ur not doin it rite, (2) Poe’s law.

  • keltec69

    23 million unemployed
    43 straight months of 8+% unemployment
    45 million on food stamps
    Black poverty at record highs
    The middle class has lost 33% of its net worth under Obama
    Black youth unemployment over 50%
    Hispanic unemployment at 10.3%
    Illegals due to receive roughly $7.4 billion through Obama’s Additional Child Tax Credit.
    Food prices up 15% under Obama
    Gas prices doubled under Obama
    Obama has the worst job creation record since 1945
    Obama recovery the worst in 75 years
    Median household income $4,300 declines under Obama
    Average family health insurance up $1,500 under Obama
    Added $6 trillion to our debt…more than all Presidents- Combined
    Presided over only US credit downgrade
    Over 100 million people on some form of means tested welfare
    Obama’s Failed policies hurt 100% of Americans

    Yeah, Romney Ryan don’t have a chance.

  • The_Ohioan

    Joe G

    Don’t beat yourself up too much over this. I’d swear there was no satire note at the bottom and I KNOW there were other pieces about Mitt there this morning which sounded just like this one and now they are GONE. Mr. Simon may have been driven around the bend by this campaign (he has quite a bit of company) or he’s simply as incompetent as a satirist as the Romney campaign is as a campaign.

    Having actually seen the tape of the airplane windows comment, and other “we don’t need no stinkin’ facts” comments, I could readily believe just about anything from the Romney crew. Just imagine these type of comments coming from the White House! Good grief!

  • Please note the update above.

  • ShannonLeee

    Satire or not, Romney is hurting Ryan’s brand. This is the wrong time for Ryan to make his national introduction. Chris Christie was smart enough to keep himself out of the race, making him a better candidate by default.

  • ShannonLeee

    This satire stuff against Romney needs to come to an end. Why should I believe anything coming out of the msm?

  • ordinarysparrow

    ” Chumped “….A word often used in Southern Africa for this kind of incident… we know you strive for accuracy and journalistic professionalism….

  • StockBoyLA

    As DK says, you can’t tell news from snark anymore.

    Especially when it comes to what Romney/Ryan say. The stuff we KNOW is true (i.e. the 47% comment) is just as bad.

    I find it odd that Romney has announced that Ryan will be campaigning with him more. I can’t help but wonder what some of the above commenters are thinking specifically if Romney is hurting Ryan’s brand (good point, ShannonLeee. If Ryan is “going rogue” (or has an inclination of going rogue) then having Ryan campaign with Romney would certainly allow Romney to keep an eye on Ryan.

  • ProWife

    Keltic69, You forgot the most pertinent of all percentages. The 47%!
    That whole list of people you gave were all singled out by Mitt Romney as being people who take no responsibility. The 47% includes many of our troops and our seniors. The polls should show much greater support for Obama. Everyone in the country should be disgusted by Mitt Romney’s behind closed doors, window into his soul derogatory remarks, about half of all Americans. Mitt Romney is not a nice guy. Stop it.

    By the way your claim about Obama’s job creation record is misleading at best. He has created more private sector jobs in three and a half years than Bush did in eight years.

  • dduck

    Truly amazing. I love that kind of writing and the power point cow euthanize bit tickled my funny bone. As you all know I am a very serious person so I really appreciated the humorous satire by Simon. I would like to know if the footnote was always there. If it was, then old J. Swift should be rolling in his grave. (Whoops, I just heard on NPR that he was cremated.)

    P.S. Isn’t what Madonna said about Obama a disgrace. Shouldn’t she know better than to disclose a secret like that.

  • DaGoat

    Well let’s cut to the chase here. The reason Lawrence O’Donnell, DailyKos, Mediate, Comedy Central, NewsOne, Paul Krugman and others all bought the story is because it fits their usual strategy of continually bashing Romney and valuing silliness over policy discussions, as well as reinforcing their biases. In their haste to bash Romney they abandoned any skepticism they might have since the story was so juicy.

    There is no doubt if the same thing happened with Obama the partisan right blogosphere and Fox would react in the same way. This is the way the game is played now – continual one-upmanship, snarkiness and petty victories. As long as your side wins that day you can rest easy. It’s the same mindset as the airplane window hubbub yesterday, the “10 million Hispanics disenfranchised” the day before, and tomorrow it will be something else.

  • dduck


  • Well DaGoat, Comedy Central is comedy. So I don’t include them in that list. Even though Stewart and Colbert have sizable influence, they don’t call themselves serious journalists like O’Donnell and Krugman.

    And frankly, who are we kidding. The entire political atmosphere is silliness. Reminds me of the inner city game of “playing the dozens”. For those that don’t know what that is, I will provide:

    The Dozens is a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in Hip-hop/Urban communities, where participants insult each other until one gives up or violence erupts. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an audience of bystanders, who encourage the participants to reply with more egregious insults to heighten the tension and consequently, to be more interesting to watch. It is also known as “sounding”, “joning”, “woofing”, “wolfing”, “sigging”, or “signifying”, while the insults themselves are known as “snaps”.

    That’s political media and politics. And no one’s giving in.

  • dduck

    I sounded for years on a fellow classmate in HS with ethnic insults. He responded of course with ethnic insults, but the best was at graduation when I told him I was not of that ethnic persuasion.
    Ain’t this a silly day.

  • zephyr

    Well, it would be easy enough to believe this story as it doesn’t seem especially far-fetched given other recent GOP debacles. Not your fault Joe.

  • The_Ohioan

    Roger Simon was just interviewed and said the piece was written as satire but not indicated as such. Ryan’s people called and said they understood it was satire but would he mind indicating it as such. Simon then added the note at the bottom because he didn’t want the onus of having cost the R&R team a few points in the election because his satire wasn’t clear.

    I think one of the other pieces about Mitt that were there in the morning and later disappeared was another satire stating that the Romney camp was calling Ryan “Gilligan” since I haven’t seen that comment since.

    An excuse for being taken in could be made if the term had been used by Romney since he has said so many strange things during this campaign, but Ryan has not been known for gaffes (or humor) very much, if at all, and that should have, and did in some cases, put up the red flag. Hopefully Mr. Simon has either given up satire or will hone his skills in that area before attempting it again.

  • dduck

    Ohio, I wonder if old J, Swift had to add a footnote. How dumb are we.

  • The_Ohioan


    No, everyone knew Swift was writing satire. This may have been Simon’s first shot at it and he hadn’t quite grasped the concept that it has to be over the top outrageous, especially for a serious political author that’s never done it before. I’ve had a lot of trouble doing satire by being too subtle and people think I’m being serious. It happens.

    It may be that we are dumb, or it may be our expectations that a well known writer of serious political observations would always write, well, serious political observations.

    I’m sure you aren’t calling Joe G. or anyone else dumb.

  • dduck

    Ohio, no, that was satire. I am saying that we have lost our sense of humor and powers of discernment (PowerPoint for cows, hint), because we first look at the source and make our judgement according to our preconditioned bias.

    If Obama says it (it was the film), then Dems believe it and Reps don’t. If Mitt says I will look out for all Americans), Reps believe, Dems don’t.
    If the NYT or MSNBC says it, or doesn’t cover it, then Dems believe and when the WSJ, Fox, and so on.

    Exception: Rush says it, it is bad if you are a Dem or a Rep.

  • The_Ohioan


    Well, Ryan got it – because he knew he never said it or said it in jest. And you got it because of the PowerPoint/cow reference. So I guess we’ll have to leave it to you and Ryan to guide us when satire is a possibility. 🙂

    I was only dubious, not convinced it was satire, though the cow was strange but otherwise the rest about the power point was not strange, but only dubious because of the other pieces (which have now disappeared) and because DK was dubious. If I hadn’t seen them, I would have thought it was a straight report with a snark about Ryan’s wonkiness and maybe a snark about power point.

    I agree that we accept or reject information depending on its source. We’ve been driven to do that by having been burnt by incorrect reports by some sources. I rely on certain news organizations that others dismiss without any consideration of their information. Though even those sources I view with a certain amount of skepticism. I’ve been complaining recently that we need a seal of approval from some national journalism society or something so we know who is a real reporter and who is just a pundit.

    So keep up the good work and do let us know if we come across another unlabeled satire.

    And I’m glad we don’t have to worry about anyone being influenced by Rush anymore.

  • dduck

    Obi one Konobi, said: be careful of the source and let a laugh be your umbrella or light sabre, whichever works.

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