Yesterday, PolitiFact decided Harry Reid's pants are on fire for saying that someone told him Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years because Reid has not provided "evidence" to PolitiFact that someone actually told him this.
Today, Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post also weighs in:
Without seeing Romney’s taxes, we cannot definitively prove Reid incorrect. But tax experts say his claim is highly improbable.How would tax experts know whether someone told Harry Reid that Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes? Because that is Reid's claim. That's the only claim he's making. And all of the tax experts in the world can't prove that it isn't true.
But Kessler, like other fact-checkers, is really hung up on this idea that tax experts—as opposed to, say, Mitt Romney—can clear up whether Harry Reid is lying, which is irrelevant to anything because the issue is not about Harry Reid. It's about Mitt Romney. But that's something lost on the hacktastic fact-checkers. Kessler even speaks to "a number of tax experts," who agree:
[G]iven Romney’s current portfolio, it was highly improbable for Romney to have had 10 years with taxfree returns — though there could have been one or two years with little or no taxes.Well, there's a bold conclusion. It's improbable that Romney paid no taxes—except for the years when it's possible he paid no taxes. Thanks, tax experts, for the clarification!
Kessler gives Reid a whopping four Pinocchios for his failure to provide evidence about Mitt Romney's tax returns, explaining that "Reid also has made no effort to explain why his unnamed source would be credible. So, in the absence of more information, it appears he has no basis to make his incendiary claim."
Right. Harry Reid has no basis to make his incendiary claim that someone told him Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes. So obviously, to get to the real truth here, what we need is some evidence from Harry Reid. Not, say, Mitt Romney, the guy who could clear all of this up so easily. He's made some pretty incendiary claims himself, after all, including that he paid a lot of money in taxes. Yeah? Well, where's the evidence? The idea that asking tax experts to explain what might be in Mitt's taxes, or how much he might have paid, or which loopholes he might have exploited is a gigantic steaming waste of time. Why speculate? Why not just look at Mitt's tax returns to know for certain what's in there? Oh yeah. Because he refuses to provide any evidence to back up his incendiary claims.
Kessler the fact-checker goes into hack overtime with his conclusion:
Moreover, Reid holds a position of great authority in the U.S. Congress. He should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy when making claims about political opponents.Oh, well, in that case. Reid holds a position of great authority—Mitt Romney merely wants to be president of the United State of America. Clearly, Reid carries that additional burden of accuracy that simply does not apply to Mitt.