The news of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s impending retirement is, at the very least, premature. RightWisconsin just confirmed with a spokesman for Ryan that the stories about his retirement aren’t true.
“This is pure speculation,” Ryan’s spokesman said. “As the speaker himself said today, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.”
That hasn’t stopped the stories. Politico waited until the seventh paragraph to report Ryan’s denial, and they didn’t quote him until after the writers offered the opinion that Ryan couldn’t tell the truth about his future. Politico’s report has all the credibility of a baseball fan blog reporting a trade rumor, complete with a description of the unhappiness of the player.
“The speaker can’t afford to admit he’s a lame duck—his fundraising capacity and deal-making leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern,” Politico opined before adding, “When asked at the end of a Thursday morning press conference if he was leaving soon, Ryan shot a quick ‘no’ over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.”
The Hill took a break from quoting Chelsea Clinton to quote Politico. So did Reuters, which also reported Ryan chuckling while denying the rumor. Neither of them added any more substance to the rumor that Ryan was retiring beyond quoting Politico. Madison’s other leftwing publication, the Wisconsin State Journal, also quoted a story in the Huffington Post that quoted anonymous speculation from members of the House Freedom Caucus, not exactly close friends or supporters of Ryan’s.
We have some other news for Politico. Paul McCartney is still touring, and Paul Ryan has not been seen walking barefoot across Abbey Road. And if you spin a member of the House Freedom Caucus backwards to hear the rumor, you’re still publishing fake news.