Trip Gabriel Makes Mountain Out of a Molehill Over Latest Dem Attack on Paul Ryan in NYTimes

New York Times campaign reporter Trip Gabriel joined vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his brother Tobin on a plane above the Rocky Mountains – and devoted a full story to probing Ryan's claims on climbing them, in Friday's "For Ryan, Perks Of Joining Ticket Can Be Weighty."

Gabriel rode with the paper's trendy passion for partisan-slanted "fact-checking," but at an even more petty level. After last week's controversy over Ryan's marathon time, Gabriel portrayed Ryan as on the defensive over another silly atheletic-related controversy, this time over how many mountain summits he had climbed, which Gabriel linked to Ryan's debunked claim to have run a super-fast marathon.

The photo caption: "Paul D. Ryan with his brother Tobin on Wednesday over the Rockies, where they sorted out the facts behind a mountainous claim."

The Times' obsessive focus on Ryan's tame marathon time exaggeration is a bit rich, considering his Democratic equivalent Joe Biden's long history of whoppers.  Jonah Goldberg put up just one of many reminders at National Review Online, detailing Biden's plagiarism problems and falsely stating he had graduated from law school in the top half of his class.

Flying high above the Rocky Mountains on Wednesday, Representative Paul D. Ryan and his brother Tobin jogged their memories to complete a list of the 14,000-foot summits below them that the vice-presidential nominee had climbed.

“We did that one; we did that one,” they said, consulting a list of Colorado’s famed “Fourteeners.”

It was not an idle pursuit. After Mr. Ryan walked back a claim to have run an exceptionally fast marathon, scrutiny has fallen on his other sporting pursuits, including whether he might have exaggerated his mountain climbing prowess. In this case, the brothers figured that over two decades of visits to Colorado, he had climbed above 14,000 feet “probably 38, 39 times” -- potential ammunition against the doubters.

Four weeks ago, no one would have questioned such a detail of Mr. Ryan’s résumé. But since he joined the Republican ticket, every scintilla of his life, every statement he has uttered has been open to inspection. His marathon claim was debunked by Runner’s World, hardly known for political investigations.

Gabriel listed two more "slip-ups" he ominously characterized as "less innocent," involving bankruptcy statistics and high gasoline prices, then devoted several paragraphs to mountain-gate.

The campaign rejected the notion that Mr. Ryan’s backtracking some details is evidence of a pattern of inaccuracies, which some independent fact-checkers and the Obama campaign seized on after Mr. Ryan’s convention speech. This week, Mr. Ryan emphatically denied that he had misled with statements about Medicare, the auto plant or a bipartisan debt commission.

But his assertion in a radio interview that he once ran “a two-hour and 50-something” marathon, a time revealed to be off by more than an hour, reinforced critics’ notions that Mr. Ryan chose facts at his convenience.

Tobin Ryan said the race, which Paul ran in 1990 as a college student with the third Ryan brother, Stan, was so long ago it was easy to forget the exact time. “I think they trained for three weeks,” he said. “They ran it on a whim.”

Skepticism over the marathon misstatement then led some to wonder if Mr. Ryan had exaggerated his mountain climbing. Last month, The Denver Post reported that Ryan Call, the chairman of the state Republican Party, said Mr. Ryan told him he had climbed nearly 40 of the state’s 53 peaks over 14,000 feet.

Democrats in Colorado mocked that as implausible.