Sep
06
2012

Please Tell Dems What Magic Words on Medicare Are

Washington Post "Factchecker" Glenn Kessler (9/6/12) doesn't like the way Democrats talk about Republican Medicare plans: The claim that Republicans will "end the Medicare guarantee" has been a frequent refrain at the convention, perhaps in response to factchecker complaints about the incorrect charge last year that Republicans would "end Medicare." But this phrase is a bit odd since there is no actual "guarantee" for any program that can be changed by some future Congress. The striking feature of Ryan's original Medicare plan was that when it's fully phased in, most seniors would not be able to afford healthcare.  Ryan's updated […]

Sep
06
2012

AP's Mostly Factless Factcheck

One of the problems with media "factchecking" is the notion that all things must be "checked" equally. If you factcheck a Republican and find three whoppers, your fact check of a Democrat better work real hard to find a comparable level of spin or dishonesty. Which is exactly how Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Tom Raum approached Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention last night. Clinton's speech–along with others–"either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition." But their first example is extraordinarily weak. They quote Clinton talking about the difference between Obama and Republican leadership when it comes to […]

Sep
05
2012

Politicians in Tampa, Charlotte Massaged by Media—Literally

Huffington Post Oasis

When it comes to journalists socializing and otherwise cozying up to the powerful, there's not a lot new under the sun. More than 20 years ago, then-FAIR associates Martin Lee and Norman Solomon wrote about it in their book Unreliable Sources: TV's top journalists are part of the wealthy and influential elite, often socializing with people they're supposed to be scrutinizing. At an awards banquet for the Radio & Television Correspondents Association during Reagan's second term, Kathleen Sullivan (at the time with ABC) was photographed on the arm of then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, while CBS Face the Nation host Lesley Stahl […]

Sep
05
2012

Dems Didn't Start Social Security — and Other False Factchecks From Factcheck.org

Rep. James Clyburn (SEIU)

Under the headline "Democratic Disinformation From Charlotte," the website Factcheck.org (9/5/12) took aim at this "dubious or misleading claim": Rep. James Clyburn engaged in partisan myth-making when he said “Democrats created Social Security” while Republicans “cursed the darkness.” History records strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate for the measure President Roosevelt signed in 1935. Later, in explaining this judgment, Factcheck wrote: For sure, there was opposition to the legislation. Sen. Daniel Hastings, a Delaware Republican, warned that it would "end the progress of a great country," as the New York Times reported. But Hastings was in the minority, […]

Sep
04
2012

Newsweek: Obama Needs to Be Clinton

A few weeks ago Newsweek got a lot of attention for Niall Ferguson's factually challenged cover story slamming the Obama case for re-election. This week, in true corporate media style, we get the "other" side: An argument that Obama should move the Democratic party to the right. Peter Boyer's piece, "Why Barack Needs Bill," recycles some of more dubious claims about the effectiveness of Clinton's brand of center-right "triangulation." Since this is the media's usual advice for Democrats– move to the right in order to capture the center– it's worth unpacking. Clinton-style "New Democrats," Boyers explains, "have nearly vanished." And […]

Sep
04
2012

Ryan's Lies… I Mean, His 'Overreaches'

Paul Ryan's RNC convention speech kicked off a lot of discussion about how and when journalists should do factchecking. Some reporters noted that, for instance, the people you factcheck can push back; other pieces wondered if it was making any difference at all. There are plenty of factchecking operations, but there seems to be a feeling that the lying and deception is more significant now than it's ever been. But if you watched TV coverage of the Republican convention, you may not have seen much in the way of factchecking. More to the point, some of the discussions could get […]

Sep
03
2012

When Candidates Lie, REAL Journalists Say They 'Finessed the Facts'

Rachel Maddow/photo by JD Lasica

On the subject of why politicians aren't worried about corporate media factcheckers, a New York Times article from last week (8/31/12) by Alessandra Stanley is worth a second look. Under the headline, "How MSNBC Became Fox's Liberal Evil Twin," Stanley wrote: "You can agree with everything that Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz say on MSNBC and still oppose their right to say it." Stanley's problem was that "all that attitude" on MSNBC "leaves fewer choices for viewers who like their election coverage with informed commentary without a twist of bias": All that arch sarcasm and partisan brio may rev up […]

Sep
01
2012

Politicians, Don't Worry About Factcheckers–They Don't Worry About Your Lies

Glenn Kessler at the New America Foundation.

"What if it turns out that when the press calls a lie a lie, nobody cares?" That's the question asked by Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet (8/28/12) after a raft of Pinocchios and flaming pants failed to sway the Romney campaign from its position that "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by factcheckers." I think that's the wrong question, though. The real question is: Does the press have the courage to call a lie a lie–and stick by it? It's hard to be hopeful about that when you have one of the media's most prominent factcheckers, the Washington […]