On May 22, 2012, Rex Nutting, the international commentary editor for the financial website MarketWatch, published a column titled, "Obama spending binge never happened." Nutting’s column explored data on federal spending patterns during recent presidencies, concluding that -- contrary to the tax-and-spend stereotype of Democrats -- President Barack Obama has actually presided over the smallest increases in federal spending of any recent president.
The column went viral. Within hours, people who liked the column were posting a graphic on Facebook that paired a line from Nutting’s column with a quote from Mitt Romney’s campaign website.
Under the heading, "Romney’s World," the Facebook post quoted a Romney Web page saying, "Since President Obama assumed office three years ago, federal spending has accelerated at a pace without precedent in recent history." (That accurately quotes Romney.)
Immediately to the right, under the heading, "Real World," the Facebook post provided a retort using a caption from Nutting’s key chart: "Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4 percent annualized pace — slower than at any time in nearly 60 years." (The post cited the quotation to the Wall Street Journal; technically, Nutting writes for MarketWatch, which is an affiliate of the Wall Street Journal.)