We should give credit to the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, with help from AP Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and writer Alan Fram, for calling out politicians and other gun-grabbers who have been abusing a two decades-old gun-related statistic and passing it off as if it's still factual.
That's nice, but Woodward could have saved many words, mountains of paper, and tons of bandwidth by telling readers in plain English that claims such as one made President Barack Obama that "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check" have never, ever been true. Instead, the AP reporter used 13 paragraphs, at one point excusing researchers who came up with a 30-40 percent estimate even "with a clear picture eluding them." There was never any defensible basis for their "estimate." Excerpts from Woodward's Wednesday item following the jump:
On Monday, Calvin Woodward, with help from Martin Crutsinger and Pete Yost, produced a "Fact Check" on the budget proposal the White House released earlier that day.
After properly criticizing the administration's plan to use "about $850 billion in savings from ending the wars and steers some $230 billion of that to highways" (and actually quoting someone knowledgeable, who pointed out that "Drawing down spending on wars that were already set to wind down and that were deficit-financed in the first place should not be considered savings"), Woodward went off the rails:
Somebody needed to give Calvin Woodward and Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press Five-Hour Energy drinks or some other boost before Tuesday night's GOP debate. Their brains must have totally turned off late in the afternoon without re-engaging before they filed their late-evening post-debate report.
Behold how the AP pair "proved" that excessive government regulation doesn't kill jobs (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In one of five items they alleged were false statements made by Mitt Romney in his presidential candidacy announcement speech, Associated Press "fact-checkers" Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn claimed that the economy has not gotten worse since Barack Obama became president. Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) clearly showed that the facts are on Romney's side. The current score is Romney 1, AP 0.
The AP pair's four other allegedly false Romney statements have to do with foreclosures, whether President Obama has "apologized to the world," Obama's economic policies, and whether the candidate raised taxes while he was Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.
Here is Romney's foreclosures statement: "Three years later, foreclosures are still at record levels. Three years later the prices of homes continue to fall."
Here's the pathetic response from Woodward and Kuhnhenn:
First let's get the obvious out of the way. It's not a secret to many readers here that yours truly's opinion (and not that of NewsBusters or MRC) is that GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney would be a completely unacceptable candidate. For those who didn't know that, now you do.
Nonetheless, when Romney says things which are either definitely or arguably true and Associated Press "fact checkers" Calvin Woodward and Jim Kuhnhenn make a point of asserting otherwise as if they get the final word, a defense is necessary.
In their "fact check" piece, the AP pair, with the help of two other contributors, disputed five statements Romney made in his campaign kickoff speech. By my count, Romney is definitely right on three, one items is a split decision, and the wire service should be considered fully correct in just one instance.
The most important of AP's "fact check" errors is its headlined determination ("Romney miscasts economy in GOP debut") that Romney was wrong when he said the following: "When he (Barack Obama) took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse. And he made it last longer." The AP pair's counterargument is truly pathetic:
AP reporters Calvin Woodward and Andrew Taylor answered the bell and came out swinging at the Republican House within hours after John Boehner was sworn in as Speaker, accusing the GOP of supposedly breaking a number of core promises.
As usual when the wire service covers Republicans, there's no shortage of inconsistency bordering on hypocrisy coming from AP's alleged journalists.
Here are selected paragraphs from this morning's report ("PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate"):
The Associated Press's Calvin Woodward has had a few shining analytical moments during the first two years of the Obama administration (examples here and here).
The AP reporter's dispatch on "gaffes and gotchas" Friday morning, which attempted to communicate a sense of bemusement tinged with condescension, both aimed mostly at first-time candidates, is not one of them, and contained its own gaffes:
The media is still having trouble understanding the Tea Party movement and what it is protesting, even though its roots are clear.
On Feb. 19, 2009 during CNBC's "Squawk Box," Rick Santelli made his famous rant heard around the world, calling for a so-called tea party-style revolt. And that helped fuel the growth of a Tea Party movement that has resulted in more than 600 protests this April 15, 2010.
Santelli's call for protest wasn't about high taxes. Instead, it was a cry against the Obama administration's plan for a taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout. The very beginning of the tea parties was about bailouts and the growth of government.
But the Associated Press still seemed to miss the point about worries over an overspending government in an April 15 article by Calvin Woodward about the Tea Party rallies. In that report, Woodward defended Obama's tax policies.
"Lost in the rhetoric was that taxes have gone down under Obama," Woodward wrote. "Congress has cut individuals' federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, leaving Americans with a lighter load despite nearly $29 billion in increases by states. Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for his health care overhaul and other programs."
It would appear that the Associated Press has nominated Calvin Woodward to be their go-to guy for "Fact Check" pieces that blow up political arguments and assertions by the White House and partisan Democrats.
In late April (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Woodward, in an item headlined "Obama disowns deficit he helped shape," blistered Barack Obama and his administration for its attempt to pin the blame for this exploding federal deficits and national debt on his predecessor. This of course didn't prevent the administration from continuing to blame Bush 43 for most of this past fiscal year's deficit of $1.417 trillion; it also didn't prevent Woodward's AP colleagues from mostly parroting a White House claim he had long since debunked.
In today's Fact Check ("Health insurer profits not so fat"), the AP writer ripped into what has seemingly been a mandatory talking point any time a Democrat brings up health care: the supposedly excessive profits of health insurance providers.
Woodward found that the Democrats' claim doesn't survive even cursory scrutiny:
In late April, the Associated Press's Calvin Woodward, in a "Fact Check" report ("Obama disowns deficit he helped shape"), hit President Barack Obama's claims that he and his party don't deserve much of the blame for the size of this year's deficit pretty hard. It was such a surprise that I wondered who had put truth serum in his coffee.
Well, you might have guessed it would be Calvin Woodard doing the primary honors in an AP Fact Check that again takes aim at the President, this time over his health care bill. With the co-bylined help of Jim Kuhnhenn and contributions from Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Woodward and his team went after several claims made by Obama at his Wednesday press conference that don't stand up to scrutiny.
Somebody needs to 'fess up. Who put truth serum in Calvin Woodward's coffee this morning?
Whoever it is, they're in a heap of trouble, as Woodward produced a fact-checking critique of Barack Obama that is so good you'd swear most of it was ghostwritten by a conservative talk host.
It will be interesting to see how much distribution it gets. I would suggest not counting on too much, but being open to a pleasant surprise.
Regardless of its distribution, you'd better believe they've read it in the White House, and they're wondering what in the world happened.
Here are key paragraphs from Woodward's rundown, which is really, seriously, a read (and save) the whole thing item (it is saved at my host for future reference; HT to Mark Levin, who excerpted the report on his show tonight):