Twentieth in a series of endless, tireless, exhaustive, hairsplitting, obsessive, resounding, never-before-attempted, conclusive posts on the fact-checking industry.
The fact-checking industry, like all of journalism, has succumbed to the imperative of instantaneousness. The moment a debate or convention speech is concluded — even before! — competing fact-checkers are racing to place their verdicts on the Web. Sometimes the speed hurts, as in this AP fact-check that overstepped the evidence in the Obama “acts of terror” dispute following the Oct. 16 town-hall debate. We also rapped the Huffington Post for a cheesy quick-turnaround aggregated fact-check of the vice-presidential debate.
The Washington Post Fact Checker, meanwhile, provides evidence this morning that the country can wait nearly a full business week for a thorough fact-check. It was at Monday night’s foreign policy debate, after all, that President Obama said, “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.”
Critics of the president on cable TV and elsewhere have spent the past few days snarking about that claim. The Post’s Glenn Kessler explains why such attitude is warranted. His fact-check leafs through Bob Woodward’s recent book, “The Price of Politics,” which follows every feint and bluff of the summer 2011 debt-ceiling talks that produced sequestration. In all, he trudges through five passages in the book, eventually reaching this conclusion: “Woodward’s detailed account of meetings during the crisis, clearly based on interviews with key participants and contemporaneous notes, make it clear that sequestration was a proposal advanced and promoted by the White House.”
And after White House budget director Jack Lew made some comments this week supporting Obama’s debate contention, Woodward went back to his reporting materials, according to Kessler.
“After reviewing all the interviews and the extensive material I have on this issue, it looks like President Obama told a whopper,” Woodward said. “Based on what Jack Lew said in Florida today, I have asked the White House to correct the record.”
That’s what we call a developing story.
The Fact-Checking series so far:
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?
Thirteenth: Catch the error in this Washington Times invite.
Fourteenth: AP editor cites Bachmann fact-checking ‘quota.’
Sixteenth: Fact-checking: A consumer-driven movement.
Seventeenth: Fact checkers not helping advance Obama argument.
Nineteenth: Palin calls for thorough fact-checking of Obama