Tenth in a series of endless, tireless, exhaustive, hairsplitting, obsessive, resounding, never-before-attempted, late-night posts and conclusive posts on the fact-checking industry.
Weeks ago, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse made journalism history when he declared, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Romney critics have since pounced on that line as evidence that the campaign doesn’t care about the truth; Romney backers says that fact checkers aren’t neutral.
Let that debate continue, fueled by a clash this morning on CNN. On “Starting Point,” host Soledad O’Brien engaged with Republican Rep. Peter King on the fact-checking craze of the past week — that is, whether President Obama has gone about apologizing for the United States and its values. King maintains that’s precisely what the president has done.
O’Brien then starts waving papers around, a broadcasting stunt that she appears to enjoy. Here, the papers contain the text of speeches in which President Obama is alleged to have apologized, though O’Brien finds little regret expressed therein. To strengthen her case, she cites the findings of FactCheck.org, which has looked at the record and reached a no-apology conclusion.
King responds in Newhousian fashion: “I don’t care what FactCheck — I don’t care what FactCheck says!” Then he said something that was a bit fuzzy because of the cross-talk, but it was something like this: “They’ve become an appendage to the Obama campaign.”
Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org, has this to say on the matter:
If he said “appendage” then I don’t know what he’s talking about, and King doesn’t know either. But I’m not sure what he said.
Ask Stephanie Cutter where we fit into the Obama organizational chart when we were slamming their bogus claims about Bain and about Romney’s stance on abortion, if you want to get a really interesting response.
In response to O’Brien’s claims that she doesn’t find any classic articulation of regret in the president’s speeches, King suggests that she — and, by extension, the fact-checking community — is taking too literal an approach to the question: “Any common-sense interpretation of those speeches — the president is apologizing for the American position. That’s an apology tour; that’s the way it’s interpreted in the Middle East,” argues the congressman.
Read more in this series:
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?