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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 09/07/2012

Obama, Biden provide grist for fact-checkers


(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (J. Scott Applewhite)

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

Despite all the hullaballoo over the past two weeks about convention speakers distorting the truth, and fact-checkers nailing them on it, reality-twisting from the podium carries on!

That, anyhow, is the verdict from various fact-checking outfits that last night obsessed over the talking points of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others from the last night of the Democratic National Convention.

In his speech, President Obama threw out this line:

You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without wrecking our middle class. Independent analysis shows that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion.

Bold text highlighted to underscore fact-checking bait. For a good — or even crummy — fact-checker, “independent analysis” is almost like saying “my friends say” or “according to a study” or even “it’s been said that...” In the world of facts, independent analysis is rarely independent, often biased and always worthy of a few Web searches by our country’s growing crowd of checkers. And here they came through.

PolitiFact noted this:

We found that the “independent” source that supports that claim is a liberal think tank. Another group, one that puts a premium on deficit reduction, gives the president credit for moving in the right direction but thinks he won’t get as far as he says he will. They think the president’s plan might get close to the $3 trillion mark, but not $4 trillion. We rated the statement Half True.

FactCheck.org went this way, in part:

Obama exaggerated when he claimed “independent experts” say his deficit-reduction plan would reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years. Actually, one independent analysis criticized a central part of the president’s plan as a “gimmick.”

FactCheck.org also came up with a nice little pat-down on the president’s contention about the automaker recovery. Have a look:

The president said U.S. automakers are “back on top of the world.” Nope. GM has slipped back to No. 2 and is headed for third place in global sales this year, behind Toyota and Volkswagen.

Don’t expect that gotcha to get a lot of circulation in the media today. What patriotic American broadcaster, after all, is going to make a big deal over the president exaggerating the greatness of a fabled American industry? We’ll be watching.

The Post’s Glenn Kessler catches the president throwing out a misleading line of attack:

“We will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it — not by turning it over to Wall Street.” — Obama
This is a bit of straw man. Obama’s rival, Mitt Romney, briefly supported private accounts as part of Social Security in the 2008 campaign but no longer does.

A far better playground for the checkers emerged from Joe Biden’s presentation. There were contentions about how the opposition would have let Detroit go bankrupt, would do the same to Medicare, would boost taxes on the middle class. The checkers afforded the vice president no leeway for the possibility that he was speaking figuratively.

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.

By  |  10:13 AM ET, 09/07/2012

Tags:  president obama, joe biden, fact checkers, auto recovery, debt, glenn kessler, factcheck.org, politifact.com

 
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