Criticism against Ryan has been as distorted as it is ill informed. MSNBC’s “The ED Show" interviewed David Cay Johnston, the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for "beat reporting". Johnston called in to question Ryan’s legitimacy on the basis that he’s a fan of ... Ayn Rand (?!).
In Rand’s book, “The Fountainhead,” a fictional character named Howard Roark blows up a building. In Johnston's view, that means people should evaluate the possibility that Paul Ryan is a proponent of blowing up buildings. Fortunately for Johnston, being able to make logical progressions were not a skill deemed necessary to winning the Pulitzer prize.
Johnston offered a few beat reporter insights:
“You know, Congressman Ryan requires his staff to read Ayn Rand, whose fictional hero, Howard Roark, is a man who blew up a building because it wasn’t built exactly to his specifications as the architect”No, Mr. Pulitzer prize, Mr. Ryan does not require his staff to read Ayn Rand. That's just a made up piece of nonsense. Apparently Mr. Ryan has read "The Fountainhead" and does believe it holds themes that are relevant and worth appreciating, themes such as the evil of oppressive statism and the loss of individuality, but he does not require his staff to read novels, this one or any other. That would just be silly, a term which fits your whole appearance on the "ED" show.
Recommending books that we find thought provoking and interesting are things that many of us do. There is nothing sinister about that. Perhaps you should consider doing a little reading yourself, Mr. Johnston. Maybe do a little background research before going on programs like "The ED Show."
Mr. Johnston continued:
“I mean, that’s the kind of society we want where our leaders say, not only are we taking from the sick and poor but we’re going to hold out as a model people who commit felonies like blowing up buildings. We really need to dig into understanding the kind of people who would put forth these ideas.”Really? Perhaps we should dig into understanding how a Pulitzer prize winning beat reporter could get his story so wrong on the substance of its chief points. Never mind. We already understand how that goes.
Perhaps Mr. Johnston believes those Rand books should be put to the torch. Oh, wait a minute, I forgot. The left are the open minded ones among us.
Update April 21st, 6:15 pm (Pacific time).
There is further controversy! It is now contended that Ryan insists on the reading of "Atlas Shrugged", and not "The Fountainhead". No matter. Ben Domenech clears it up for us:
Always skeptical about the offhand, unsourced anecdote from Beam’s piece (which wasn’t even focused on Ryan), I reached out to several former Ryan staffers yesterday to ask them whether the Budget Chairman had required them to read Rand. While everyone knows Ryan is indeed a personal fan of Rand’s work, not a single one of them said Ryan had required them to read the books. Responses include: “I had already read it prior to working for him, but it is by no means a requirement for employment,” and “Saying he ‘requires’ his staff to read it is definitely stretching the truth,” and the flat out denial: “We are not required to read Rand.”If Ryan's staff are to be believed, the claims of forced Rand readings are specious. However, the greater point is that regardless of whether or not Mr. Ryan's staff read Ayn Rand, that does not give one license to claim that he is a man whose bent is toward blowing up buildings. That is an outrageous claim that is utterly contemptible and without merit. It should not be a part of the public debate, and certainly should not be inserted into the debate by a journalist.