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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 03:45 PM ET, 10/09/2012

Fact-checkers won’t assist Team Obama’s argument

Seventeenth in a series of endless, tireless, exhaustive, hairsplitting, obsessive, resounding, never-before-attempted, conclusive posts on the fact-checking industry.

Team Obama has pressed a persistent line of attack in the days since Mitt Romney clobbered the president in last week’s debate in Denver. The day after the event, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Brad Woodhouse charged that Romney couldn’t be bothered with the truth; if he “was speaking last night, he was lying,” Woodhouse said.

The fact-checking industry has declined to come to the aid of Woodhouse and the like. While PolitiFact.com flags Romney with a few ”False” ratings stemming from the debate, it also administers two doses of the same medicine to President Obama. Joining in the bipartisan fact-vetting are FactCheck.org and The Post’s Fact Checker.

In reaching their verdicts, the fact-checking organizations looked at a full range of factual assertions that came out of the debate, including Obama’s contention that Romney’s plan “calls for a $5 trillion tax cut”; Romney’s contention that Obama has doubled the deficit; Obama’s contention that the economy had created 5 million private-sector jobs over the past 21 / 2 years; Romney’s contention that middle-income citizens have “seen their income come down by $4,300.” And so on.

All fine. But what about this statement by President Obama?

Well, for 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he’s saying that his big, bold idea is, “Never mind.”

That comment encapsulates what Democrats feel is the bottom truth about the debate — that Romney essentially walked into the venue wearing a different skin.

And allegations of skin-changing lie way beyond the ambit of fact-checkers. Says Bill Adair of PolitiFact: “This one seems more in the realm of opinion and not a checkable claim,” though he says it still deserves journalistic scrutiny.

Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler resorts to lumber in his explanation: “[B]y focusing so much on the trees, one might argue we miss the forest. But my view is that the forest is best left to all of the political pundits out there, since what you are asking is really is more of a political analysis than anything else.”

After declaring that the Obama claim about Romney’s “never mind” move is beyond his purview — “It’s not our job to endorse the Obama talking point du jour” — FactCheck.org Director Brooks Jackson veers into a bit of political analysis:

Obama would be more credible if he would just go after Romney for over-promising. But instead he’s just as inconsistent as he accuses Romney of being. First he says Romney’s proposing a tax increase on the middle class. They he says it’s a $5 trillion tax cut. Neither is the case. The truth is that it’s a black box.

The Fact-Checking series so far:

First: Can you remind me again what this fact-check debate is about?

Second: Is Fox really fact-checking the first lady’s claim that her husband is open-minded?

Third: CNN says fact-checking squares with its exclusive spot in cable-news sphere.

Fourth: Clinton bedevils fact-checkers.

Fifth: Fox’s Cavuto slights fact-checking of Clinton speech, perhaps including Fox’s fact-checking of Clinton speech.

Sixth: Fact-checking IS the substance that news consumers have been asking for.

Seventh: Biden and Obama keep checkers busy.

Eighth: A task for fact-checkers: Did the administration apologize for American values?

Ninth: Fact-checkers take dim view of Romney “apology” claims.

Tenth: GOP lawmaker says he doesn’t care what a fact-checker says.

Eleventh: Soledad O’Brien says she’s “required” to fact-check

Twelfth: Romney’s not-so-secret comments take a beating from checkers

Thirteenth: Catch the error in this Washington Times invite.

Fourteenth: AP editor cites Bachmann fact-checking ‘quota.’

Fifteenth: Are Democrats more offended by adverse fact-checks than Republicans?

Sixteenth: Fact-checking: A consumer-driven movement.

By  |  03:45 PM ET, 10/09/2012

Tags:  fact checking romney, fact checking obama, factcheck.org, politifact, washington post fact-checker, glenn kessler, bill adair, brooks jackson, fact check tax cut

 
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