Media Accuse Ryan of Lying About…Mountain Climbing?

During any presidential campaign, wild accusations fly back and forth between the GOP and the Democratic Party, but the liberal media hit a new low last Wednesday when they made the ridiculous assertion that Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has been lying about the number of times he's hiked Colorado's mountainsides.

With the economy and jobless rate in the nation in terrible shape, the first attack on this unimportant subject came from James Fallows of the Atlantic magazine with an article entitled “Paul Ryan, Mountaineer.”

It quoted an interview Ryan gave to Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel on April 26, 2009, in which Gilbert quoted the Republican Congressman as stating that he'd made close to 40 climbs of Colorado's "Fourteeners" (14,000-foot peaks).”

Fallows then quoted a blog from the Supertopo in which an unidentified climber said that the “54 peaks are scattered throughout remote parts of Colorado, and you have to visit out-of-the-way little towns and valleys to tick the list, towns and valleys that you would never visit otherwise.”

I doubt Ryan had the time or dedication to fourteeners to take the required time out from his political career. Even if you did four a summer, that would be ten summers devoted to traveling to Colorado for the purpose of high altitude hiking. Even if you live here and can drive to the trail heads, forty is a huge commitment of time and energy.

Brendan Buck of the Romney Campaign was quick to respond to the article, releasing a statement hours later that the criticisms of Ryan's comments on mountain climbing have “some bad info in there” before stating that the Republican candidate has “been doing this for more than 20 years.”

Even though Buck's information was quickly added to Fallows' online article, it didn't take long for the accusation to reach other liberal outlets, including Progress Now Colorado which is demanding proof that Ryan actually climbed the mountains he said he did.

A press release the following day entitled "Did 'Lyin' Ryan' Really Climb Forty Colorado Fourteeners?" called for Ryan to “release photos, summit logs, and any other evidence he has to back up his claim that he climbed forty of our state's highest mountains -- or come clean with Colorado that he's lying about his 'peak bagger' record, too.”

The group timed the release so it was available while Ryan visited Colorado Springs during a campaign swing in the area.

As a result, the liberal organization received coverage from Fox 31 in Denver, which quipped that the Wisconsin Republican “is facing a mountain of criticism by his naysayers in Colorado.”

The growing controversy led Craig Gilbert, who did the original interview with Ryan, to try to set the record straight.

In a blog posting, the journalist stated that during the interview, “Ryan did not claim to have climbed close to 40 different “fourteeners,” as has been reported by some. (Colorado has more than fifty 14,000-foot peaks,)”

“He said he made close to 40 climbs (climbing some peaks more than once),” Gilbert added.

Warner Todd Huston of stated he thought the Democrats were “making a mountain out of a molehill” by “garbling the truth” in their attacks on Ryan.

But also on Thursday, Farrows posted an article entitled “Finale on Ryan as Mountain Climber” in which he stated, “I don't know anything about mountain climbing,” and admitted, “Like, apparently, many other people, I drew the wrong inference from Paul Ryan's comment.”

Included in the “ton of mail” he'd received on the topic, one email writer stated:

I really wish you guys would stick to questioning Mr. Ryan's, Mr. Romney's and his opponents' stands on policy issues in the next four years...that is much more important to the voting public.

“Advice accepted,” Farrows wrote. “I am leaving the rest of this to the mountaineers.”

The saddest part of this controversy is that the media are so busy straining to find anything that will tarnish the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Republican ticket that they plow ahead regardless of the poor state of the economy.

I don't know if they can find anything as ridiculous as this to waste more precious campaign time, but I wouldn't be surprised by anything the media come up with between now and November 6.

2012 Presidential Paul Ryan