Friday, September 09, 2011

Associated Press: Fact Checkers, or Nitpicking Nitwits?

There are Fact Checks and there are Fact Checks, and when I saw a headline on Yahoo saying FACT CHECK: Obama's Jobs Plan Paid For? Seems Not, I knew I'd be getting a crappy fact check.

If you're pressed for time, I'll give away the ending: None of the facts "checked" were actually wrong; and the author had to tease out ways of finding flaws in what Obama said.  Rather than a "Fact Check," it was more like a Statement Nitpicking; and even then, required the authors to implicitly rewrite what Obama said into a false statement and then declare it to be false.

When Everything Isn't Everything

The first fact they "checked" was when Obama said:
"Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

Why was this fact wrong?  Because for Obama to have the bill paid for, it requires other people to do stuff they might not do.  Plus, future Congresses could undo it.  Besides, Obama won't say exactly how it'll work until next week.  Next week?!  In cable news time, that's like twenty years!!  In other words, we should just assume that it won't happen and Obama knows it won't happen, which means what he said was a lie.

The article summarizes it thusly:
So there is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.
Seriously, that's it.  That's the main complaint: Obama's lying because the bill hasn't passed yet.  Seriously, doesn't this kinda apply to ALL policy proposals that EVERYONE makes ALWAYS?  Perhaps my civics lessons are a bit rusty, but I'm pretty much sure it's impossible for a single man to enact legislation the moment he first tells the public about it.

And so yeah, this Fact Check was going to be a doozy.

"That's Been Supported"

Obama's second fact checked was the following statement:
Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans, including many who sit here tonight.

And what was so egregious about that?  I mean,  it not only sounds good, but it has the benefit of being true.  Everything in this bill has been supported by Democrats and Republicans.  What's not to like?

The problem?  The proposal has stuff that the current batch of Republicans will hate.  But of course, the fact remains that everything in the bill has "been supported by both Democrats and Republicans," so...what exactly is the point here?  Did Obama say that all Republicans will support everything in it?  No, he didn't.  That was something the writers just invented in order to have something to write about.

Meaning of the Word "Deficit"

The third fact "checked," was Obama saying "It will not add to the deficit."

This go around, they went the semantics route.  As they point out, since the plan is to run short-term deficits that are paid with long-term revenues, and since deficits are determined on an annual basis; therefore Obama is lying because it'll run short-term deficits.

But of course, we're all grown-ups and rather than Spend Now, Pay Later being some trick of the hand; that's a key part of the plan.  It's not a lie that we'll be paying for this with future monies; that's the plan, dumbasses.

It's Not ALL Right Away

The final fact checked:
"The American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away."

Their response?
Not all of the president's major proposals are likely to yield quick job growth if adopted.
Did Obama claim that every piece of the bill would create immediate jobs?  No, he didn't. does this criticism apply to what Obama said?  I have no idea and neither do you.

Better News Orgs, Please

And what's sad is that I'm sure there had to be SOME valid fact that could have stood correction.  But the guys given the task of writing this story were clearly too incompetent to do so.  I mean, when your boss says "write a fact check piece on Obama," that's what you're expected to do; whether you find anything or not, apparently.

But that all just goes to show what a fraud the entire news profession is these days: First, that they'd treat such an important part of the democratic process with such routine disregard that they'd correct facts that weren't wrong to begin with.  And perhaps worse, that they'd assign such blundering dopes to do the job.  Seriously, this was such a superficial dig on Obama's speech that everyone involved should be demoted.

Rather than perform the civic duty of informing the public, the AP has yet again spat out another mudclod of misinformation that only served to confuse the issues and make us all dumber.  People can blame Obama for not fighting Republicans enough or people can more rightly blame Republicans for being such lying douchebags; but none of that blame would be necessary if shallow news organizations like the AP didn't help the liars by repeating their lies and attacking the truth.

Perhaps some day we'll have a world in which misinformation is denounced and truth is trumpeted, but until then, we have the Associated Press.

1 comment:

Betsy said...

Thank you, I'll keep this for reference.
For one brief shining moment last night I felt less cynical. Mostly because he did what everyone has been screaming for. Of course that didn't last---I come from the land of the Rick Perry dragon after all............