Jan
29
2014

The State of AP's Factchecking Is Sad–as Usual

AP's Calvin Woodward

Why does AP still let Calvin Woodward "factcheck" political speeches? Does no one at the news service know what actual factchecking looks like? (If you're coming in late, see FAIR Blog, 10/30/08, 2/25/09, 4/30/09, 1/28/10, 8/31/12.) Woodward's latest venture (1/29/14) into the factcheck genre, following President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech,¬† produced¬† yet more illustrations of what not to do when gauging the accuracy of political speech. Take this item: OBAMA: "We'll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. But I will act on my own to slash […]

Aug
31
2012

Factchecking the Minnows and Letting the Whales Swim Away

Mitt Romney at the RNC

In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP's Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney's big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet.¬† My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren't the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it's possible to do anything about them? (The answers are "yes" and "yes," as it turns out.) The Washington Post […]

Jan
28
2010

Another Embarrassing Factcheck From Calvin Woodward

AP's Calvin Woodward, who has the standing assignment of "factchecking" political speeches, continues to be an embarrassment to genuine factcheckers everywhere–substituting his own weird value judgments, semantic games and crystal-ball gazing for genuine examination of facts (FAIR Blog, 10/30/08, 2/25/09, 4/30/09). In his post-State of the Union effort (1/27/10), he singles out Barack Obama's call for a non-military discretionary spending freeze, pointing out that during the 2008 campaign Obama had said that rival John McCain's proposal for a spending freeze was "using a hatchet where you need a scalpel." Saying that Obama's "proposal is similar to McCain's," Woodward complained that […]

Apr
30
2009

Calvin Woodward's Fractured Fact-Check Strikes Again

Associated Press reporter Calvin Woodward has a history of straining to catch Barack Obama in factual errors. But today's review of last night's Obama press conference may have hit a new low in absurdity. In the piece, headlined "Fact Check: Obama Disowns Deficit He Helped Shape," Woodward takes issue with Obama's statement: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit…. That wasn't me." Woodward's criticism: "It actually was him–and the other Democrats controlling Congress the previous two years–who shaped a budget so out of balance…. Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for […]

Feb
25
2009

AP's Obama 'Fact-Check' Does Not Meet the 'Gotcha' Threshold

This AP "fact check" (2/24/09) of President Barack Obama's speech is, as usual, a sad effort. You really need to have some threshold for calling "gotcha," and some of these–maybe all of these–really don't measure up. Obama says, "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market," and AP's Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn retort, "This may be so, but it isn't only Republicans who pushed for deregulation of the financial industries." But Obama didn't say–or suggest–that they were. Nor is he the sort of politician who routinely pretends that his party […]

Oct
30
2008

AP: Obama Misleads by Not Promising Austerity

The Associated Press (10/29/08) does its usual sad job trying to fact-check candidate statements–this time working a hefty dose of neo-Hooverism into the mix. AP's Calvin Woodward charges that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office. For instance, Woodward responds to Obama outlining his economic proposals by noting: "His proposals–the tax cuts, the low-cost loans, the $15 billion a year he promises for alternative energy, and more–cost money, and the country could be facing a record […]