Fact Check Fail: Think Progress Cherry-Picks Evidence for Anti-Palin, Anti-GOP Attack

June 21st, 2010 6:14 PM

Usually when you see something on the Center for American Progress' Think Progress blog, you ignore it (or at best take it with a grain of salt) because you know its fundamental objective is to score some inane point against conservatives or the Republican Party.

But a June 21 post by Tanya Somanader, categorized as "Radical Right-Wing Agenda" was too hard to let go. In her post, "Fact Checking Sarah Palin: Joe Barton Reflects The Philosophy Of Over 115 Republicans" Somanader used guilt by association to back up White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's claim that the ill-advised remarks of Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, were indicative the GOP's "larger philosophy."

Former Republican vice-presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin attacked Emanuel for the claim he made on the June 20 broadcast of ABC's "This Week" on her Twitter feed:

RahmEmanuel= as shallow/narrowminded/political/irresponsible as they come,to falsely claim Barton's BP comment is "GOP philosophy"Rahm,u lie

The central issue involved Barton's remarks during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on June 17. The Texas Republican apologized to embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward for an alleged White House "shakedown."

Barton's hastily retracted comments resembled something put out by the House Republican Study Committee last week, causing Somanader to conclude that 115 House Republicans agreed with Barton, therefore making Emanuel's claim true and Palin's critique off-base:

Despite the conservative howls, some in the media have failed to note that Emanuel's assertion is evidenced by the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Comprised of over 115 Republican congressional members, including House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Chairman of the House Republican Conference Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the RSC presented a collective view of what it saw as a White House "shakedown" 

But even Politico's Jonathan Allen explained that Emanuel's line of reasoning was "bending" the truth. And various Republicans spoke out against Barton's comments, including the top-ranking Republicans in the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Two on that list of "over 115 Republican congressional members" Somanader cited have taken it a step further and called Barton to step down from his committee leadership post - Reps. Jo Bonner, R-Ala. and Jeff Miller, R-Fla.

"[I] believe the damage of his comments are beyond repair and, as such, I am today calling on Joe to do the right thing for our conference and immediately step aside as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee," Bonner said in a June 18 statement.

But Somanader ignored the exceptions and defended Emanuel's attack on the Republican Party was valid.

"If a chorus of over 115 Republican members agreeing with Barton isn't a reflection of GOP philosophy, what is?" she wrote.