Brit Hume and National Review Online: Keeping the Sex Ed for Kindergartners Lie Alive

10/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What kind of guy would write, "Here's what the law says," when everyone else in the media read the actual words, which say the opposite? Somebody who can't read? A pathological liar who wants to get caught? Somebody who lacks the capacity to feel embarrassment or shame? A magazine editor with utter contempt for his readers?

Byron York is that kind of guy. In the National Review Online, he devoted 2100 words to explain why, "On Sex-Ed Ad, McCain Is Right." And as surely as the dusk follows the dawn, York's deception was echoed by Brit Hume on Fox News:

"It is widely agreed in the mainstream media that John McCain falsely accused Barack Obama of supporting a bill that provided sex education for kindergartners. The McCain camp made the assertion in a campaign ad released last week.

"The Washington Post called the ad 'dishonest and deceptive,' and The New York Times said, 'At most, kindergartners were to be taught the dangers of sexual predators.'

"But it appears those critics have not read the bill, which Obama backed as an Illinois state senator in 2003. It says curriculum in 'any of grades K-12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.'

"The Obama camp maintains the bill was intended to teach kindergartners only about inappropriate touching, but Byron York at The National Review writes, 'The 'touching' provision did not have the prominence that team Obama has suggested it had, and certainly wasn't the bill's main purpose.'"

York even hyperlinked the text of the bill in his NRO piece. As you can read for yourself, the bill applies identical standards and guidelines to three related and overlapping areas of instruction: Sex Education, Family Life, and the Illinois Comprehensive Health Education Program. And three times, the bill explicitly states:

"All course material and instruction in classes that teach sex education and discuss sexual activity or behavior shall be age and developmentally appropriate."

York ignores this language and suggests that the statute's wording imposes no such limitation. Also, and this distinction is probably too subtle for anyone at NRO, the statute does not direct that sex education be taught, only that classes that teach sex education follow certain guidelines. Of course, members of the legitimate press read the statute last week and confirmed for themselves that McCain's ad was dishonest.

York's analytic sleight of hand was repeated verbatim by Hume:

"The 'touching' provision did not have the prominence that team Obama has suggested it had, and certainly wasn't the bill's main purpose."

This is nonsensical in two respects. First, a legal statute is not a marketing brochure or a political speech. All of the words in a statute are controlling -- whether or not some nitwit like York deems them "prominent." Finally, the "prominence" of instruction to kindergartners was an invention of McCain's ad, not the Obama campaign.