CNN: Sarah Palin's 'Death Panel' Comment Wins 'Lie of the Year'

If President Obama or any Democrat had actually won the dubious honor of committing PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year," do you think CNN would have reported it?

Fat chance, right?

Before you answer, consider the glee exhibited by CNN's Josh Levs Sunday when he announced Sarah Palin had "won" for her Facebook comment concerning a "death panel" in healthcare reform legislation (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Story Balloon):

BETTY NGUYEN, CO-ANCHOR: Well, let's talk about politics, shall we? Something that some may say is not. And specifically this: a competition in U.S. politics that nobody wants to win. Yes, we are talking about who had the biggest "lie of the year."

ROB MARCIANO, CO-ANCHOR: And the results are in.

NGUYEN: Yes.

MARCIANO: Josh Levs here with that answer.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You guys got your own drum roll going up there.

NGUYEN: Trying, I was trying that. So, the biggest lie of the year, that's not something anybody wants to hold the title to.

LEVS: Yes, a dubious distinction. And you know where it comes, it comes from PolitiFact.com, it's that reality-checking from "The St. Petersburg Times." It gives rulings on what politicians say, and they are constantly looking at new assertion, that goes from true to half- true, all the way down to "pants on fire." They're friends of our show here.

They pulled out some of what they called the biggest lies of the year. So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to show a couple candidates and then the winner. One of the candidates was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The reforms -- the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegal.

REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!

(BOOING)

OBAMA: Not true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: Representative Joe Wilson famously yelled "You lie" at that moment. PolitiFact said that while there has been a debate, there is a debate over how illegal immigrants would be impacted by health care legislation, there was not enough to make the case that President Obama had lie. So, they made Wilson's accusation a candidate for Lie of the Year.

But another candidate was this from President Obama, saying why insurance companies should be required to cover preventive care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense. It saves money and it saves lives.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEVS: Preventive care does help save lives, and it's important. But PolitiFact says it actually does not save the country money. Congressional Budget Office says that it adds to overall costs.

All right. So, those were a couple of the other examples, but in the end, the Lie of the Year, by far, according to PolitiFact.com...

(DRUM ROLL)

LEVS: There's that drum roll -- was this: it was from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin saying, "Seniors and the disabled will have to stand in front of Obama's death panel so his bureaucrats can decide whether they are worthy of health care."

PolitiFact said the health care she was talking about did not establish anything like that. So, the editors of the PolitiFact chose it for their Lie of the Year.

And they held a poll on their Web site in which people could vote. They got 5,000 votes. And 61 percent named it top lie of the year.

And to be fair, PolitiFact points out that she stands by this. Last month, she told this to "The National Review," a conservative publication. She said the terms should not be taken literally.

She called it "a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union was the evil empire. He got his point across. He got people thinking and researching what he was talking about. It was quite effective," she says. "Same thing with death panels, I would characterize them like that again in a heartbeat."

What do you think? Here's how you can weigh in. We are talking about that today on the blog. Also Facebook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN, the blog is CNN.com/Josh.

Tell us what you think. Was it the biggest lie of the year? Did it have the biggest impact? Do you view it as a lie? What do you think about all this?

So, there you, Betty and Rob, PolitiFact's choice and the viewers' choice on their Web site for the Lie of the Year.

NGUYEN: Yes. You know, it's going to be interesting to see what people think about that.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: And specifically, the question that you ask, do you view it as a lie? Because Sarah Palin says, well, it shouldn't be taken literally.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: She didn't mean it like that. So, was that really a lie?

LEVS: Right. She got away of construing it, you know? And this is often, too, about a lot of these political assertions, right, if you come back and give it a whole new view.

But a lot of people are screaming up and they're saying straight up it was a lie.

NGUYEN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Yes, you know, that's what it says. It will be interesting to see what people have to say about that.

All right. Let us know. Thank you, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

MARCIANO: Thank you, Josh.

I might use that as a fallback, you know...

NGUYEN: Yes?

MARCIANO: ... if I am caught in a lie of some sort. A horrible lie, you know, I didn't say, I didn't mean that, I was just...

NGUYEN: Don't take it literally.

MARCIANO: Don't take it literally.

NGUYEN: All right.

MARCIANO: All right.

For a little background, PolitiFact announced this "contest" on December 9. Please note that of the eight "finalists," five were statements made by conservatives:

"When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."
-- Joe Biden on Thursday, April 30, 2009, in an interview on The Today Show

Preventive care "saves money."
-- Barack Obama on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, in a speech to Congress

"You lie!" (in response to President Obama saying health reform would not insure illegal immigrants.)
-- Joe Wilson on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, in the audience at a joint session of Congress

Seniors and the disabled "will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."
-- Sarah Palin on Friday, Aug. 7, 2009, in a message posted on Facebook

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, "has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population."
-- Glenn Beck on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, in his TV program

An amendment to the House health reform bill "puts new restrictions on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market even when they would pay premiums with their own money."
-- Nita Lowey on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, in a speech on the House floor

A birth certificate shows Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
-- Orly Taitz on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2009, in an attachment to a lawsuit

Page 92 of the House health care bill "says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain."
-- Michele Bachmann on Friday, Oct. 30, 2009, in an interview on the Fox News Channel.

Interesting that one of the three Democrats on this list was a New York Congresswoman that likely few people had ever heard of.

Beyond this, of all the falsehoods stated this year by Obama and Biden, the two PolitiFact chose seemed rather innocuous. Maybe that's why they didn't receive many votes.

But none of this should be surprising, for PolitiFact has a very hard time hiding its liberal bias. Take a look at the first page of individual's statements PF lists as "Pants on Fire" (meaning REALLY big lies), and you'll see they're all by Conservatives (h/t Mark Finkelstein).

That's not all for NewsBusters contributor Matthew Vadum wrote extensively about PolitiFact's biases in May:

Journalistic bias is one thing, but journalistic arrogance is quite another.

When reporters claiming to be neutral political fact-checkers go beyond mere reporting to state with absolute certainty things they cannot possibly know, they run the risk of churning out political opinion masquerading as high-minded investigative journalism.

This is exactly what the reporters at the fact-checking operation PolitiFact.com sometimes do. A project of the St. Petersburg Times, the website's "Truth-O-Meter" purports to check and rate "the accuracy of statements by candidates, elected officials, political parties, interest groups, pundits, talk show hosts." [...]

Should anyone really be surprised that PolitiFact, part of the St. Petersburg Times, would have a liberal bias?

On Oct. 24, PolitiFact gave then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's statement that Obama would "experiment with socialism" a "Pants on Fire" ruling.

An editorial in Wednesday's print edition of the newspaper hails President Obama's selection of undistinguished radical jurist Sonia Sotomayor to fill the Supreme Court slot of retiring Justice David Souter. As if reading from an administration press release, the newspaper gushes that Sotomayor is someone with a "powerful intellect who demonstrates compassion and a common touch."

On May 22 an editorial lauded the president for a recent speech in which he "laid out a cogent framework to return to the rule of law in the future treatment of terrorism suspects and close the prison." Former Vice President Dick Cheney, on the other hand, was described as spewing "vitriol" and "recklessly" arguing that Obama's policies were encouraging more terrorist attacks.

On May 20 an editorial served as environmentalist cheerleading for the president's tougher fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, describing them as "a much-needed win for consumers, the environment and the struggling automotive industry."

On Sept. 14, an editorial attacked Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign. "McCain's straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak," it said.

A left-wing slant seems embedded in the paper's DNA.

Former St. Petersburg Times associate editor Martin Dyckman recalled what it was like being in the newsroom in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Dyckman, who retired as associate editor in 2006, reminisced that on that terrible day he "was standing at the teletype when the first flash came in that a suspected Marxist, Lee Harvey Oswald, was being held in connection with the shooting."

He recalled that the paper's publisher, Nelson Poynter, was dejected when Dyckman relayed the report. "'Oh, no,'" Dyckman quoted the publisher saying. "'I was hoping it would be a right-winger.'"

Looking at how PolitiFact considers lies, it appears they're always hoping the offenders are right-wingers.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.