Paul Ryan Doesn't Call Romney 'the Stench'

Joke column sets off a media mess
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2012 6:44 PM CDT
Paul Ryan Doesn't Call Romney 'the Stench'
Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally with Paul Ryan Tuesday in Vandalia, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

The most-talked-about political story today ended up being the story about a story. If you heard references to the "stench" today, here's the tale:

  • Politico columnist Roger Simon wrote a piece about Romney-Ryan with this line: (Ryan) "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.'"
  • He was joking, playing off a quote that appeared in this New York Times story over the weekend, saying Ryan would "have to wash the stench of Romney off of him" if he planned to run for national office again.
  • The problem is that several big media outlets didn't read Simon's line as a joke, reports BuzzFeed, which rounds up examples of reports that Ryan had a new nickname of "Stench" for his running mate. It also got confirmation of the joke from Simon himself: "Some people always don't get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought."
  • At Gawker, one of the sites that initially reported on the nickname, John Cook critiques Simon's "completely inscrutable" column and concludes that he doesn't understand what satire actually is.
(Read more Paul Ryan stories.)

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