When I saw the headline at last night dispatch from the Associated Press’s Charles Babington on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his campaign (“Romney rebuts claims that he, GOP are anti-women”), I thought that the Obama administration and Babington’s employer, also known as the Administration’s Press, might finally be throwing the inane “war on women” meme into the dustbin. After the Hilary Rosen disaster of the past 36 hours, that would seem wise.
The headline’s reference to rebuttal leads one to believe that Romney had successfully “refute(d) by evidence or argument” the utter garbage the left’s “war on women” accusation against Republicans and conservatives has always been. I should have known better. The headline doesn’t reflect the underlying article at all, leading one to hope that most readers stop right there. Babington’s report is so disgracefully over-the-top it deserves its own wing in the Journalism Hall of Shame (bolds and numbered tags, which cover only a portion of the journalistic offenses committed in Babington’s full write-up, are mine):
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney intensified his efforts Wednesday to rebut claims that he and fellow Republicans are insufficiently supportive of women, or even hostile to them. 
For the second straight day, the presumptive GOP nominee campaigned at a female-owned work site, and denounced Democrats for saying his party is waging “a war on women.”
“The real war on women is being waged by the president’s failed economic policies,” Romney told a crowd packed inside Alpha Graphics, in Hartford, Conn. There, and on Tuesday at a women-owned steel fabrication plant in Delaware, Romney said President Barack Obama’s economic policies have disproportionately hurt women.
The events were scheduled before Rick Santorum’s unexpected withdrawal removed the last serious barrier to Romney’s nomination pursuit. They underscored Romney’s sensitivity to Democrats’ efforts to link him to controversial GOP-led efforts to limit birth control insurance coverage for women in some workplaces, among other things. 
Polls have found a growing “gender gap” in the presidential race. Obama’s advantage among women is outpacing Romney’s edge among men. 
While he spoke in Hartford, Romney’s campaign issued statements from Republican women in Congress defending his record. But a conference call with reporters arranged by his campaign hit a snag when aides were asked whether Romney supports the Lilly Ledbetter Act to help women achieve equal pay, the first piece of legislation Obama signed. 
“We’ll get back to you on that,” campaign policy director Lanhee Chen said after a pause.
… Romney repeated his assertion that women account for 92 percent of those who have lost jobs during Obama’s presidency. While that statistic is accurate, it overlooks the fact that more men than women lost jobs early in the Great Recession.  The record downturn began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, covering approximately President George W. Bush’s last year in office and Obama’s first half-year.
 — Who is making these “claims,” Charles? He never gives us anyone’s name. Why, it’s people like President Obama who expect religious organizations to drop their long-held principles and pay for contraceptives and abortions. It’s people like Hilary Rosen who bear their feminist fangs and tell us that Ann Romney, who raised five boys, “has never worked a day in her life” — and who, when confronted over this outrage, issues what amounts to an “I’m sorry you’re an idiot” non-apology. There are a lot of people who are acting “hostile” towards women these days, but Mitt Romney, his campaign, Republicans, and conservatives are not among them.
 — The correct phrasing for what is occurring is that there is a leftist- and Democrat-led law of doubtful constitutionality which has given a hostile Secretary of Health and Human Services free rein to force workplaces to cover services which are against their owners’ and/or their religions’ deeply held principles. It’s known as the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.
 — “Polls” implies “all polls.” Not all polls “show a growing gender gap.”
Here’s a poll which shows, in terms of the economy, the most important issue in the election, not only that Romney’s supposed gender gap with women is tiny to the point of margin-of-error insignificance, but also reveal a staggering gender gap Barack Obama has with men:
Why don’t you talk about Obama’s gender gap with men on the economy, Charlie?
 — Seriously, Babington makes an issue of the fact that Romney’s aides (not the candidate) don’t know about the Lilly Ledbetter Act. While one the topic, is there any proof that the Act has “help(ed) women achieve equal pay,” or that it was anything more than an exercise in partisan pandering?
 — Babington took it upon himself to go after Romney’s job-related assertion instead of citing some other source. His conclusion is sort of a reverse take on how the press dealt with Dan Rather’s errors eight years ago during the Bush-Texas Air National Guard controversy (“fake but accurate”). Instead, he tries to criticize Romney’s contention as, in essence, “accurate but fake.” Sorry, Charlie, it’s accurate, period — perhaps selective, but this is a political campaign, pal, and politicians choose facts which buttress their cases. I’m so not shocked.
Most fundamentally, in arguing against the Romney campaign’s assertion, Babington, along with comrades Andrew Miga and Laurie Kellman, proactively inserted themselves into the statistical debate as de facto administration spokespersons. They don’t seem to care that doing so compromises whatever might remain of their own and their wire service’s credibility and integrity. Guess there wasn’t much to lose in the first place.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.