“Dishgate” debunked: Our long national nightmare is over

When I first heard about a silly “Dishgate scandal” associated with vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, I thought maybe he had found a way to watch The Walking Dead on the Dish Network.  AMC never misses an opportunity to remind you that you’re not supposed to be able to do that.

But no, it’s actually an even dumber story than that.  Ryan was visiting a soup kitchen in Ohio, and was photographed watching dishes.  Someone associated with the soup kitchen let it slip that Ryan wasn’t really cleaning the dishes – they were already clean, and he was just mugging for the camera.

You can see how this would be a huge story if it was true.  Forget about double-digit real unemployment or the dead of Benghazi!  But it wasn’t true, and every media organization that reported on it owes both Ryan and their readers an apology for running with such an (a) irrelevant and (b) thinly-sourced story.  Because it turns out the whole thing was based on something a guy who wasn’t even there claimed he heard from some other guy, as NBC News explains:

Amid questions and criticisms related to Paul Ryan’s visit this weekend to an Ohio soup kitchen, the charity’s president said the Republican vice presidential candidate did, in fact, scrub dirty dishes though his visit wasn’t officially sanctioned.

The question of whether the Wisconsin congressman cleaned dishes that were actually dirty – as opposed to re-washing already clean dishes so as to get a good photo opportunity — Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society President Brian Antal clarified that Ryan did clean soiled dishes. This differs from what Antal had told The Washington Post Monday.

Speaking Tuesday morning with NBC News, Antal said he was not on-site when Ryan was at the soup kitchen and attributes his earlier comments that the dishes were clean when Ryan washed them to hearing the details second-hand from a volunteer.

In case you somehow missed out on the world-shaking controversy of Dishgate, it was a big deal on lefty blogs, who are understandably eager to talk about anything other than Barack Obama’s current misadventures.  But it got some oxygen from mainstream media sources, too.  The Washington Post was instrumental in getting the story out there, and later felt obliged to mention that contrary to the way he bills himself as an “independent voter,” Brian Antal “has consistently voted in Democratic primaries.”  I hate it when partisan bias intrudes on a good dishwashing story.