fact check

How the Media Reacts to Boston Tragedy

Boston Marathon

In the aftermath of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on Monday, a lot of information came out, and less than 36 hours we now know that most, if not almost all, of that information was incorrect.  As Elizabeth Scalia (@TheAnchoress) tweeted yesterday:

Every time something big happens, particularly if it is tragic, the media reports a lot of things that just aren’t so.  You’ve heard the saying “if it bleeds, it leads?”  Well that is completely true, and every news outlet wants to be the absolute first to report every detail.  When things are happening quickly, news outlets report whatever information they have, with no time to fact-check the details to make sure that what they report is accurate.  In the 24-hour news cycle, every broadcast news outlet is competing for ratings, so being right, but second to report, does not help.  Being wrong, but first to report, can help a broadcast station because they get the reputation as “the first on the scene,” but there is no accountability later for being wrong.  After all, it’s a chaotic scene, so how can you blame them for being wrong?

AP questions Obama’s stimulus claims

President Obama claimed last night that his jobs plan would be paid for.  “Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything,” he said.  In politics, it never gets more clear than that.  Of course, obviously I question it.  I question everything any politicians says.  What surprised me was that even the Associated Press is questioning it.

THE FACTS: Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional supercommittee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future – the “out years,” in legislative jargon – but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.

Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today’s Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it.

Thank you AP.

For the record, this is the same problem one runs into when talking about spending cuts.  Most of those cuts are deferred to the out years to ease the pinch in the short term, and most never materialize because, as the AP points out, Congress can’t tell a future Congress what they have to spend.

Regardless of what you think of the President’s jobs plan, his claim it will be paid for is dubious at best.  As the AP piece points out, Obama must send his proposal to the Super Committee – which he does not control – and hope they accept it, then get it through Congress and then hope that these proposals are adhered to in the future.

Poltifact’s “Lie of the Year” is Not a Lie

I have long had a problem with Politifact.

There is just something wrong with not being able to come out and call a statement straight up true or false.  I guess I’m a black and white kind of guy.  For crying out loud, they have four different versions of a statement being deemed true.  For me, it is either true, or it is false.

What has happened in the political arena as a result of painting with so many shades of gray, is that politicians can use Politifact anytime they want to demagogue just about any issue their opponents have made a statement about.  They can point to a Politifact rating of Half-True (Insert sneering chortle here) and say their opponent is being dishonest with the voters.

And I guess what really irks me out of my pants-on-fire is that they are simply wrong so often.  Case in point; they recently deemed the Lie of the Year to be the following statement; “A Government Takeover of Healthcare.”

Really?  Why not pick something a little more easily provable, like I dunno, Christine O’Donnell’s claim that she, is in fact, you.

Billy Hallowell over at Mediate does a good job pointing out how much of the debate Poltifact had to ignore to reach their conclusion that “Government Takeover of Healthcare” is a lie.

Obama Lied: Broadband speeds aren’t faster or cheaper in Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls, Iowa

The President’s claim that Cedar Falls residents can get a gig for less than many Americans pay for premium cable is untrue. His statement that the Cedar Falls Utility network is 100 times faster than the average American Internet connection is, at best, a misleading and contradictory exaggeration, and at worst, absolutely false.

Last week, President Obama said “we’re going to change” — i.e., preempt through federal fiat — state laws that prohibit their municipalities from owning broadband networks. (See embedded YouTube video at 14:00.) The White House supported his preemption plan with this “fact sheet” and a blog post listing “five things you need to know” about the President’s announcement. The problem is, several of the “facts” and other things the White House wants you to know are false, misleading, or contradictory.

WaPo fact checker names “biggest Pinocchios of 2013,” Obama’s health plan promise leads the pack

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney may have to spend more time with reporters desperately and awkwardly trying to spin dishonors from fact checkers over President Barack Obama’s health plan promise, a statement repeated dozens of time in defense of Obamacare that has turned out to be very untrue.

Glenn Kessler, the resident fact checker at the Washington Post, has named the “biggest Pinocchios of 2013,” leading off with President Obama’s infamous “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it” claim.

“This memorable promise by President Obama backfired on him when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and millions of Americans started receiving cancellation notices,
wrote Kessler on Monday. “As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2010) cut-off date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration.”

“This was our most popular fact check of the year,” he added.

PolitiFact recently awarded the claim made by President Obama as its “2013 Lie of the Year,” noting that the promise “was impossible to keep.” PolitiFact’s readers agreed as the promise took 59% of the vote in its online poll. No other finalists for the dishonor took more than 8%.

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it”

PolitiFact has awarded President Barack Obama with its “2013 Lie of the Year” for his now-infamous and flatly false claim that that Americans could keep their health plans under Obamacare.

“It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system,” wrote Angie Drobnic Holan yesterday at PolitiFact.

“‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ President Barack Obama said — many times — of his landmark new law,” she noted. “But the promise was impossible to keep.”

So this fall, as cancellation letters were going out to approximately 4 million Americans, the public realized Obama’s breezy assurances were wrong,” she wrote, adding that President Obama and his administration’s excuses for lying to Americans “made matters worse.”

The bungled rollout of the federal Obamacare exchange website and stories covering the cancellations caused President Obama’s approval ratings drop to all-time lows. Congressional Democrats have seen their advantage in completely disappear to the point where Republicans now hold a slim edge.

“For all of these reasons, PolitiFact has named ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’ the Lie of the Year for 2013,” wrote Holan. “Readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the choice.”

President Obama up for PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year”

PolitiFact, one of the many fact checkers that has sprouted up on the web, announced yesterday that it had opened voting for the readers’ choice for the  ”2013 Lie of the Year.”

Though PolitiFact’s editors and reporters will still choose the “Lie of the Year,” the fact checker, run by the Tampa Bay Times, has selected 10 finalists for this year’s “dishonor,” readers have been given the option to weigh-in. Readers can also write-in a one not on the list.

Among the 10 finalists are number of claims about Obamacare, including one made by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and another by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about the congressional exemption from the law. There are a few others dealing with other random issue, from Syria to the United Nations.

President Barack Obama is also the list because of his revisionism on his infamous “if you like you plan, you can keep your plan” promise amid millions of insurance policy cancellation notices that are a direct result of the law.

“If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed,” Obama told his supporters early last month.

“So we wrote into the Affordable Care Act you are grandfathered in on that plan. But if the insurance company changes it, then what we’re saying is they have got to change it to a higher standard,” he said. “They’ve got to make it better.”

Obama’s misleading debt ceiling claims

Polls show that Americans don’t want Congress to increase the debt ceiling, even if it means defaulting on the national debt. While the merits of those polls may be a subject for debate, polls show that the public is concerned about rising deficits and have given President Barack Obama less than stellar marks on the subject.

But the White House has begun a full-court press to pressure Congress to raise the debt ceiling, the statutory limit for the national debt, and President Obama is making some deceiving claims about the issue.

“Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy,” said President Obama in a meeting with business executives. “All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.”

“And I’ve heard people say, well, in the past, there have been negotiations around raising the debt ceiling,” he said. “It’s always a tough vote because the average person thinks raising the debt ceiling must mean that we’re running up our debt, so people don’t like to vote on it, and, typically, there’s some gamesmanship in terms of making the President’s party shoulder the burden of raising the — taking the vote.”

Do Stand Your Ground Laws Lead to More Violence?

Eric Holder hates them.  People like Yours Truly love them.  Folks typically fall on one side or the other.

I’m talking about Stand Your Ground laws. The question is, does the data really support Holder’s idea that they lead to more violence? Well, Michael Doyle over at McClatchy took at look at the numbers, and the conclusion?:

The controversially concluded Florida murder trial of George Zimmerman has prompted fresh debate over whether “stand your ground” self-defense laws hinder violence or, perversely, propel it.

The evidence appears mixed.

Some studies show enhanced public safety. Others suggest the opposite. One study concluded that several dozen men a month are killed as a consequence of the laws. In a speech this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder showed himself to be among the skeptics.

The resulting ambiguity, like the Zimmerman trial itself, in which he was found not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, may confound anyone hoping for a neutral finding of fact. It also allows advocates and critics alike to cherry-pick their preferred experts, which can enliven debate but complicate lawmaking.

It’s actually somewhat surprising that the evidence is mixed.  However, the McClatchy piece also boasts an interactive map that, after clicking a state, shows the violent crime rate over a period of years.  It also notes when that state passed its Stand Your Ground law.

Of course, there are some factors that have been missed.

Obama Campaign Admits Their $5 Trillion Tax Cut Attack Is False

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