White House press secretary Sean Spicer last month. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mike Allen of Axios counseled journalists to appreciate these times. “Enjoy this — soak it in,” said Allen in a chat with Breitbart News.

Sorry, but there’s not much to enjoy. This week, President Trump claimed that the murder rate had reached a 47-year high. A meager exertion on the keyboard was required to debunk that miserable falsehood, clearly designed to gin up enthusiasm for Trump’s law-and-order agenda. The president also claimed that international terrorism has reached a point where it’s “not even being reported” by the media. No electronic exertion was required to debunk that fear-mongering conspiratorial representation. And who out there remembers the famous “Bowling Green massacre,” the fantastical confection of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway?

A good fact-checker is trained to examine public documents, legal correspondence, video archives and on and on — all in search of a verdict. The Trump people, at least, make the job much more simple.

Another truth-defying moment streamed out of Thursday’s White House briefing. Press secretary Sean Spicer was busy trying to defend the president against a reported statement from Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch that Trump’s broadsides against the judiciary — such as a tweet calling a federal jurist a “so-called judge” — are “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) reported that Gorsuch made these comments in a meeting, and they were confirmed by none other than Ron Bonjean, part of Gorsuch’s team as he moves through the Senate confirmation gantlet. So there wasn’t much doubt about the particulars here.

Until the president himself intervened.

This contention that Blumenthal misrepresented the meeting put Spicer in another Vise-Grip-like bind. He had to somehow square the public record with the Trump record — a job that is too often impossible. His wiggle route lay through a statement by Kelly Ayotte, who has assisted in shepherding Gorsuch through the Senate. “The judge was very clear that he was not commenting on any specific matter,” said Spicer, making the claim that the “disheartening” slam didn’t come in direct response to a tweet from Trump. “The judge literally made it very clear in his comments — he was commenting in general on attacks on the judiciary.”

The Post’s Philip Rucker wasn’t having it. “Your answer about the context doesn’t make sense when you think about what Sen. Ben Sasse said today — this morning on TV he said he asked Judge Gorsuch specifically about the president’s ‘so-called judge’ tweet and in response –”

With that, Spicer showed a bit of the frustration and combativeness that earned him attention on “Saturday Night Live”: “Phil, this is, like, the fourth time I’ve asked and answered the question.” Though Rucker tried to persuade Spicer that his point added another wrinkle to the story, Spicer simply shut him down. “I understand — thank you.” Time to move on.

Reflecting on Spicer’s act, CNN’s Dana Bash commented, “Come on.”

Journalists do the work that they’re called upon to do. In another time, they were called upon to check the George W. Bush administration’s claims about the Iraq War, and they failed. More recently, they were called upon to expose the mismanagement of the Obama administration’s healthcare.gov rollout. They exposed it. These days, they’re called upon to cite obvious lies and falsehoods spinning out of the White House. They’re doing that without breaking a sweat.

Second-grade-level fact-checks are swallowing Beltway journalism, thanks to the Trump folks. It’s the work that must now be done, though there’s nothing at all enjoyable or exciting about it. To be stuck on this mindless loop is tedious and life-sucking.



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