Of all the scandals plaguing the Obama administration, the one involving the Internal Revenue Service appears to be the one that even liberal news outlets deem serious.
Count Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler amongst the concerned, for on Monday he actually gave the IRS's Lois Lerner "a bushel of Pinocchios" for statements she has made about her organization's targeting of conservative groups.
Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler decided to not to be a lapdog for the Obama administration with his Pinocchio test concerning background checks for firearm purchases. On April 2, he awarded President Obama’s claim that 40 percent of gun sales don’t require a background check, which earned him three -- out of four possible -- Pinocchios from Kessler.
Kessler explained that " there are two key problems with the president’s use of this statistic:
Since the existing background-check system began, in 1994, officials have screened more than 108 million people before they could buy a gun, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the federal government has blocked 1.9 million attempted purchases because of felony convictions or other problems with the would-be buyers’ background.
But no background check is required for about 40 percent of gun purchases, including those made online or at gun shows, federal officials estimate. Requiring checks for those purchases would be the single most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, advocates say.
President Obama's sequester-related press briefing on March 1 contained the usual fibs. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following: "We've already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit," when the entire amount involved is something which might happen in the future; his claim that his State of the Union laundry list "is the agenda that the American people voted for," when many of the items involved were never mentioned during the 2012 campaign; and that the sequester is "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," despite the fact that his advisers with his personal approval originated the idea in 2011 and the reality that he was under no compulsion when he signed the bill setting it in place last week.
Since then, while the establishment press has largely ignored it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has twice honed in on a relatively small but clearly refutable statement Obama uttered that day: "Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol ... they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real." No it's not.
Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning newscast to zero in on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's false assertion about the sequester – that "there are, literally, teachers now who are getting pink slips; who are getting notices they can't come back this fall". Correspondent Bill Plante noted that "Duncan conceded he knew of only one county nationwide where there had been notices", and underlined that "those notices weren't sequester-related."
CBS News political director John Dickerson also highlighted that "the Washington Post caught...Duncan in an exaggeration about those effects." Actually, "exaggeration" is an understatement on the part of Dickerson, as the Post's Glenn Kessler ripped the Cabinet official over several statements he's made on the sequester issue:
While it's not exactly news when former President Bill Clinton fails to tell the truth (after all, the first count on which he was impeached concerned his lying under oath in grand jury testimony), a whopper he hauled out at the Consumer Electronics show last Wednesday concerning gun violence was so over the top that it deserves far more notice than most of the establishment press will give it.
One of the reports on what Clinton said was at Thursday morning's New York Daily News. As an aside, the paper's online article looks more like what one would find at issues advocacy blogs than what you would hope to see at a real newspaper's web site; this particular item pleads with readers within its text to "CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE DAILY NEWS ONLINE PETITION TO BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS," and the petition itself appears below Kristen Lee's report. Lee relayed what Clinton said at the Consumer Electronics show on January 9:
Without even realizing it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has done a great service for the conservative movement and the interests of taxpayers. For the first time, we have in one place—citable in a mainstream news source—definitive proof that President Reagan was tricked into agreeing to a phony spending cut/real tax hike deal. The minor detail that the fact checker draws the wrong conclusion is as immaterial as it is expected—for most fact checkers, the Republican is wrong even when he’s right.
We have an excerpt from Reagan’s memoirs. We have a quote from a Reagan nationally-televised speech. We have numbers broken out showing that the deal was, in fact, $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. We have quotations and descriptions of how Senator Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and OMB Director David Stockman basically knew all along that the spending cuts were phony. We have Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger willfully refusing to implement the phony spending cuts. We have Dole writing a letter to the President desperately seeking to assure him that he didn’t just get his wallet lifted, thank you very much. We even have Jack Kemp as the taxpayer hero, detailing for the President the whys and wherefores of how he got sold a bill of goods.
The Biden-Ryan vice-presidential debate Thursday night brought out the media's "fact check" squads, including the New York Times, which had a squad of reporters evaluating the statements of Joe Biden and Paul Ryan online during the debate. Still, with perhaps 15 reporters on the job Thursday night, the paper still had to out-source a crucial Biden misstatement on Libya to the one-man fact-check machine at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, the next morning.
The Times boiled down a few of its findings for Friday's print edition under "Check Point" on topics including Medicare, the stimulus, and the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
James Taranto has written at Opinion Journal that this new-style media "fact checking" is "overwhelmingly biased toward the left" and "gives journalists much freer rein to express their opinions by allowing them to pretend to be rendering authoritative judgments about the facts." The Times's debate product doesn't refute Taranto's argument. Reporter Michael Cooper had the top "Check Point" item and per usual found the Republican at fault:
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler published a column yesterday attempting to debunk the claim in an American Crossroads television spot that President Obama skipped almost half of his intelligence briefings. Kessler assigned the assertion a 3 out of 4 possible Pinocchios. No matter how Kessler spins it, however, the fact remains that President Obama failed to receive in-person intelligence briefings in the days leading up to the September 11 assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Since Wednesday, the Obama-loving media have been working overtime trying to disprove a number of statements made by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan during their respective speeches at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
On ABC's This Week Sunday, George Will called out Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler for claiming Ryan had mislead Americans about a GM plant closing in Janesville, Wisconsin (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Washington Post's popular Fact Checker political column isn't known for being particularly balanced when it comes to choosing which statements to dissect. So, it was surprising when the column's author Glenn Kessler, who usually chooses to go after statements made by prominent Republicans, fact-checked a tweet made by President Obama.
On July 3, @BarackObama tweeted, "FACT: In 2010 and 2011, Romney paid less than 15% in taxes on $42.5 million in income—much less than what many middle-class families pay." Kessler decided to dig into this statement and gave it "3 out of 4" Pinnochios on the Fact Checker scale.
NewsBusters reported Friday that the Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler gave a MarketWatch piece claiming President Obama's "spending binge never happened" three pinocchios for its utter falsehoods.
On Monday, the Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and former assistant managing editor Eugene Robinson actually misrepresented his own paper's findings to hype the thoroughly debunked MarketWatch piece and bash Mitt Romney:
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday lectured journalists to not believe the "BS" that Barack Obama is a reckless spender. Rather than investigate Carney's assertions, or the sketchy basis for them, reporters have either embraced the talking points or allowed them to go unchallenged.
Chris Matthews on Wednesday repeated the "fact" that federal spending "is rising at the slowest rate" in 60 years. The network evening and morning shows have failed to investigate this highly questionable assertion from MarketWatch's Rex Nutting. The Washington Post, however, gave this claim "three Pinocchios" and chided Carney, "The data in the article are flawed, and the analysis lacks context."
As NewsBusters reported Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney during the previous day's press gaggle cited a bogus MarketWatch report hysterically claiming "Obama Spending Binge Never Happened."
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler looked at Carney's comments as well as Rex Nutting's article Friday and gave their assertions three Pinocchios:
When President Barack Obama recently pontificated on gas prices, the broadcast networks listened, and parroted his explanations of why gas prices have more than doubled since he took office. But the networks had a much different take on gas prices when a Republican president was in office.
On March 7, 2012, Obama declared: “We've got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent. What that means is, as much as we're doing to increase oil production, we're not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices.”
On Friday’s Stephanie Miller show, the host was typically adoring Obama’s snarky remarks about how the conservatives are flat-earthers when it comes to the awesome potential for green energy solutions. The forward-thinkers and the scientific minds hand over a half-billion dollars to Solyndra, apparently.
Unfortunately for Miller, her sidekick Jim Ward (who does impressions), completely lost his cool and said Obama’s critics “should test the alleged laws of gravity by jumping out of a plane without a parachute.” It’s another Playtex bottle of the milk of human kindness from liberal talk radio.
In June, when yours truly last blogged on a Glenn Kessler piece (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Washington Post's "Fact Checker" was calling Barack Obama's claims about the accomplishments of the auto-company bailouts "one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech." He gave Obama's claims three Pinocchios ("Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions").
Today, Kessler went to four Pinocchios ("whoppers") on Vice President Joe Biden's claims about the prospects for a rise in rapes and murders if the $35 billion section of Obama's "American Jobs Act" devoted to "saving" public-sector jobs doesn't pass. NB's Noel Sheppard did a great job on the "macro" aspect of Biden's bogus claim this morning. Kessler's clean-up has to do with Biden's supposed exemplar, the city of Flint Michigan, where the Vice President claims that murders have doubled and rapes have tripled in the past year (bolds are mine):
Washington Post's Fact Checker caught the President in a four Pinocchios whopper shockingly writing Wednesday, "Obama’s claim of having passed the 'biggest middle-class tax cut in history' is ridiculous":
The educated guess here is that Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler is currently not the most popular person in the White House.
On Saturday, in a relatively rare rebuke originating from what G. Gordon Liddy has mockingly derided as "Washington's quaint little alternative newspaper" (daily circulation 741,000 in March 2005, 551,000 in March 2011), Kessler ripped into the President's claims about the auto bailout, giving him "Three Pinocchios," which in his ratings system means "Significant factual error(s) and/or obvious contradictions." Kessler found "weasel words," a "misleading figure" (actually, more), and (imagine that) a straw man.
Here are selected paragraphs from Kessler's KO (bolds are mine; internal link was in original):
... What we found is one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan.
Surprise, surprise. Despite the overwhelming negative reaction to the President’s statements regarding the Iranian election demonstrations, Washington Post writer Glenn Kessler could not find more than one foreign policy expert that was vaguely critical. In fact, the sole expert they did find to criticize the President added a caveat – a caveat of praise.
In the section titled ‘Approach generally praised’, Kessler writes:
The president's approach has generally been praised by foreign-policy experts, with one exception.
He then cites the lone dissenting voice (emphasis mine):