Twelfth in a series of endless, tireless, exhaustive, hairsplitting, obsessive, resounding, never-before-attempted, late-night posts and conclusive posts on the fact-checking industry.
One of the benefits of closed-to-the-media fundraising sessions is that your comments don’t get chewed over by the country’s growing fact-checking industry. All that changes once a leaker comes through with a nice, clandestine video recording with nice, clear audio.
So how did Mitt Romney’s closed-door presentation to high-dollar donors in Boca Raton, Fla., fare on the various fact meters? About the same as your average convention address.
PolitiFact nails Romney for saying that the “48, 49 percent” of the country that backs President Obama are “people who pay no income tax.” No way, says PolitiFact: “Obama is expected to win millions of votes from people who do pay federal income taxes, and Romney is expected to win millions of votes from people who do not pay federal income taxes.” False!
PolitiFact is toeing a fact-checking fault line right there. Romney’s assertion, after all, appears to be heavily rhetorical, and PolitiFact’s rebuttal depends on “expected” outcomes. Yet those projections are based on realdata, from polling sources, as PolitiFact shows here.
FactCheck.org jumps in on this point as well, bruising Romney’s talking point:
Romney also said the 46.4 percent who pay no federal income tax “will vote for the president no matter what,” and, therefore, President Obama starts off with an automatic 48 percent or 49 percent of the vote. But that doesn’t jibe with polling data.
It’s safe to say that most of the 46.4 percent referred to by Romney are in the lower income brackets. According to the most recent Gallup polls of registered voters, 37 percent of those making less than $36,000 a year indicate they plan to vote for Romney.
Three other Romney-fundraising comments undergo PolitiFact scrutiny: “Fifty percent of kids coming out of school can’t get a job.” (mostly true, though Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler delivers a more dire verdict.); “Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.” (true); and “President Obama promised ‘he’d keep unemployment below 8 percent’ if the stimulus passed.” (mostly false).
Kessler gives Romney three Pinocchios for not being careful enough: “Perhaps it is too much to expect a politician to be entirely accurate in a closed-door speech.”
If the fact-checkers expect any rest between now and early November, they should pray that no more clandestine fundraiser videos hit the Internet.
Fourth: Clinton bedevils fact-checkers.
Seventh: Biden and Obama keep checkers busy.
Eighth: A task for fact-checkers: Did the administration apologize for American values?