Jonathan Chait

Paul Ryan And The Conservative Misinformation Feedback Loop

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A couple days ago, Paul Ryan delivered a speech on the sinister history of what he called "progressivist" thought. In the speech, he quoted Barney Frank as having said, "We are trying to increase the role of government on every front." It struck as odd that I'd never heard this before. A quick search shows that it's been circulating among fringe-right website for months now.

It's also clearly misleading. Frank was in a discussion of regulatory reform, in which Ralph Nader was accusing him of timidity, especially with regard to regulating derivatives. Frank, in response, stated "We are trying in every front to increase the role of government in the regulatory area." In other words, he was not confessing to a plan to expand government in every area. Now, you could interpret that line to mean he was confessing a plan to expand government in every regulatory area, but both the context of the discussion and the absence of widespread regulation in other facets would militate against even this, more modest interpretation. It's a great example of the conservative misinformation feedback loop in action.

Here's the Frank video:

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