It continued with failed White House hopeful Rick Santorum, who repeated a proven-false attack line on Obama administration's welfare-to-work policies as his main talking point and reached its zenith Wednesday night with vice-presidential nominee U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Ryan and the GOP unleashed a storm surge of untruth that threatened to overwhelm the antiquated levees of objective reporting constructed over the years by the mainstream media. Many major newspapers - augmented by websites since the 2000 election - do have fact-checking features that rate the truthfulness of political ads and speeches, but their influence is limited, and waning.
The unfortunate events of Tampa have altered the equation: When do political falsehoods stop being a little box at the end of the story - and become the Story?
Brendan Nyhan, who co-founded an early fact-checking website called Spinsanity in 2001 and now teaches at Dartmouth College, said the fact-checking out of Tampa has been aggressive but late - published after an informal viewer's initial impression has taken root.
"It's better than not doing any fact-checking at all," Nyhan said Thursday. "But we do have to be concerned about not getting the facts until after the initial coverage."
Ryan put the media to the test on Wednesday. He blamed Obama for the shutdown of a GM plant in his Wisconsin hometown when it actually closed while George W. Bush was in the White House. He criticized Obama for rejecting a commission's debt reduction plan - without mentioning that he too voted against it. Ryan also attacked the president for proposed Medicare cuts identical in size to cuts that Ryan himself proposed.
The media reaction was slow, but strong. One pundit even called the Wisconsinite's words "an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech" . . . on FoxNews.com (by its token liberal, apparently).
Strong enough? Probably not. Media-reform guru Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, is pushing for blatant political lying to get called out in the first paragraph on the front page in news stories, not buried on the op-ed page or tiny fact-checking boxes.
He's right, but would even that stop the lies? America is divided three ways in 2012, between political junkies on the left and right in air-tight Twitter-fed bubbles and people we call "undecided voters" who are really just looking for information on when "Dancing With the Stars" comes back on.
Paul Ryan and the Romney campaign are banking on that, and they've set a low bar for next week's Democratic hoedown in Charlotte. George Orwell - who wrote of tossing inconvenient facts down a "memory hole" - must be spinning in his grave. Who knew the "1984" convention would be held in 2012?
Contact Will Bunch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-2957. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Bunch. Read his blog at Attytood.com.