Thursday, September 06, 2012

AP Fact Check: Bill Clinton & Democrats Suck

At some point, professional Fact Checkers need to realize that their job isn't to hunt out lies to debunk, whether they're real or not, but to just check the facts.  And if all the facts check out, it's ok to say that.  You can tell us that Obama was telling the truth about his numbers, or that Paul Ryan said something true when he referenced his wife's name (though we're still looking into that one).

You aren't required to tell us that all politicians are liars if you just found a speech that didn't have lies.  That's one reason so many people are cynical about politics, as the media loves to blame both sides; because it's far easier than telling folks the truth and face the wrath of Republicans who hate it.

Because no, spin is not the same as lying.  And if a politician tells us something that makes his side look better, but is basically true, then it's true; whether it made him look good or not.  As long as the basic context of the claim is true, we're all allowed to see our own side of it.  Because hey, maybe our spin is correct.  Maybe when both sides blame the other, it's possible that only one side is right and they're not both to blame.  And if the truth of a particular fact comes down to the opinions of the people're not checking facts, you're checking opinions.  And that's not what you were hired to do.

And yes, that's all to get us around to the AP's egregious "fact check" of Clinton's speech last night, where the best they could do was apparently to find four "facts" to check out of Clinton's forty-eight minute long speech; and the "truth" of one of these claims was simply that Bill had lied about something over a decade ago, which apparently undermines his ability to call anyone else a liar.  By that standard, Paul Ryan will never make it in the fact checking business.  Never.

Fact Checking Spin

And while that last "fact" check was the most ridiculous of the batch, the whole thing was pathetically weak, and without a doubt, completely exposed the writer's bias.  Sure, he couldn't find much of any "facts" to dispute, but god dammit, he knows they're there.  He can feel it.  He knows he was lied to, he just can't figure out how.  And rather than highlight any of the facts Clinton got right, we're stuck with garbage like this.
THE FACTS: From Clinton's speech, voters would have no idea that the inflexibility of both parties is to blame for much of the gridlock. Right from the beginning Obama brought in as his first chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, a man known for his getting his way, not for getting along.
What?!  The hiring of Rahm Emmanuel is evidence that Clinton was lying when he blamed Republicans for partisanship   Huh?

The next "example" showing that Clinton was wrong for blaming Republicans was because Congressional Republicans and some Congressional Democrats didn't like the "Grand Bargain" Obama and Republican leaders had been hashing out.  What is the proof that both sides were to blame for this?  I haven't a clue.  The checker never said.  He also never mentioned that Obama had given up far more than Republicans had, as we were giving up far more spending programs than they were giving up in tax increases; by a three-to-one margin.  So the deal itself was already loaded in Republican's favor, yet Democrats are somehow also to blame for not compromising enough.  Right.

And who was it that killed the Grand Bargain?  That'd be John Boehner and the Republicans, that's who.  And more importantly, why was the Grand Bargain being made in the first place?  Because Republicans unilaterally decided to play political football with our country's credit rating; threatening to throw us off the cliff if they didn't get what they wanted.  Period.  That was it.  They had voted repeatedly in the past to raise the debt ceiling, but this go round, they decided to play chicken with our nation's economy because they thought it'd benefit them.

Soooo...this was an issue where Republicans rejected a compromise that went heavily in their favor to solve a crisis that was entirely of their creation because they wanted to pressure Obama into giving them what they wanted.  Uh, yeah.  Let's blame both sides for that.

Must Blame Both Sides.  Must Blame Both Sides.

The Fact Checker also went on to mention the Simpsons-Bowles Plan, which Republicans rejected because it didn't go far enough in cutting government spending.  And since Obama didn't unilaterally decide to adopt the plan as his own, which of course would have made it his starting position in negotiations and which Republicans would be able to whittle down further in their favor; this is proof that Obama was also to blame.

After all, it was his commission and he ignored it; while Republicans including Paul Ryan rejected it completely.  And all for an issue that liberals didn't want in the first place, and which was much more weighted for Republicans than Democrats.  Yeah, sounds like both sides are to blame for that as well.

At this point I was going to go on and do the rest of the piece, but this took too long and I've got real work to do.  But you get the idea.  And the main problem here is that Clinton gave a substantive speech with lots of facts.  Yet if you read this piece, you'd never know it.  Because apparently, telling readers that Clinton got the facts right would be biased...or something.

And that's in accordance with the liberal bias we typically find in reality.  So instead the "fact check" focuses on spin that the writer didn't like.  Didn't find many facts to dispute, but he sure didn't like Clinton's tone.

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