Fact Checking the Fact Checkers

Early and often in Tuesday’s debate Barack Obama accused Mitt Romney of misrepresenting the facts. “Very little of what Governor Romney said is true,” the president declared in response to his opponent’s answer on a question on oil. Even the moderator got into the act of fact-checking the Republican nominee. CNN reporter Candy Crowley took Obama’s side on the administration’s immediate characterization of the attack on the Benghazi consulate—which the president connected to a YouTube video six times in a United Nations speech—as terrorism.

But on Libya, as on Obama’s seemingly benign fib “I was raised by a single mom,” the truth lost Tuesday’s debate.

Reality Check: Production of oil on federal lands is up under the Obama administration

When Mitt Romney charged that Barack Obama had slashed federal permits for oil exploration and that drilling on federal lands had declined, the president responded: “It’s just not true.” But according to the administration’s own figures, the amount of oil extracted from federal lands decreased 14 percent last year—just as the former Massachusetts governor claims. From year one of the Obama administration, oil recovered from federal lands has declined by 6 million barrels even as the nation’s appetite for oil has increased. Poliifact rated Romney’s air-tight claim a half-truth: “there’s nuance in the number. Production under Obama was hobbled due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.” But no matter the reason, oil production on federal lands is undeniably down.

Reality Check: Obama’s efforts have curtailed illegal immigration

“The flow of people across the border is the lowest it’s been in 40 years,” Obama proudly claimed Tuesday night. But with border apprehensions at one-sixth of its 2000 peak, this has less to do the president’s immigration policies than it does with his economic policies. “After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—most of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed,” the Pew Hispanic Center reported earlier this year. What changed? The U.S. has become a less attractive destination point for immigrants because of the struggling economy. In other words, for the first time in history, the U.S.-Mexican border experiences more southward than northward traffic.

Reality Check: Gas prices have increased because the economy has improved

Perhaps the most bizarre claim in Tuesday’s debate was Obama’s contention that Americans benefitted from low gas prices upon his ascension to the presidency “because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression.” Gas prices have more than doubled during Obama’s presidency. The president didn’t explain the correlation between high gas prices and a booming economy (doesn’t the gas-price juxtaposition of the struggling seventies with the booming eighties rebut this?). Neither FactCheck.com nor Politifact grappled with Obama’s weird claim. But the former organization remarkably took issue with Romney’s assertion that under Obama Americans have seen “incomes go down $4,300 a family, even as gasoline prices have gone up $2,000.” FactCheck.com noted that “Romney made the misleading claim that ‘gasoline prices have gone up $2,000.’ He’s making a claim about the average price of gasoline per year per household, not per vehicle.” Yes, Romney prefaced his remarks by referencing families, not vehicles. The watchdog/lapdog further stated that “the $2,000 figure is greatly inflated because gasoline prices were much higher during most of 2008 than they were at the moment Obama was sworn in.” USA Today’s “debate fact check” provided similar excuses, noting that gas prices were “going through a period of exceptional volatility when Obama took office” and that “prices are still 34 cents below their all-time high during the Bush administration.” What does any of this have to do with Romney’s solid claim that families have experienced a $2,000 boost at the pump under Obama?

Reality Check: President Obama immediately labeled the Benghazi attacks terrorism

Following the Benghazi attacks, the president vaguely declared in the Rose Garden: “No acts of terror will ever shake the great resolve of this nation.” That he did so immediately after a discussion of the 9/11 anniversary left observers to wonder if the word “terror” referenced the 9/11 attacks or to the attack on the Benghazi consulate. Perhaps the amorphousness of the statement is the point. The president wanted to claim that he had labeled the attacks terrorism without actually doing so. In fact, during that same Rose Garden speech, the president called the Benghazi attacks “senseless violence”—the very opposite of violence employed for a religious, political, or ideological purpose (i.e., terrorism).  “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” the president said, “we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”

Fact checkers, like candidates, have axes to grind. They are in the fray rather than above it. There is something fundamentally dishonest about a group of people awarding themselves fundamental honesty. The fact checkers need a reality check.

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  • Jeremy

    Crowley said that she had the Rose Garden speech transcript with her during the debate. So when Obama looked at her (see the video on YouTube) and asked to “get the transcript”, how did he know that fat Crowley had the transcript? Skulduggery does not even cover it.

    In any case, all the fact checker (or fat checker in Crowley's case) are in Islamist/Obama/Democrat camp. Americans are being "shafted" – now that's the word hyper Biden should have used.

    • zblago

      thank you this is the real question, hope romney advertise it on tv, Obama Crowley and the transcript”,

    • Lorraine

      Jeremy, I think we know why. Crowley was given the script by Obama and/or his people, so that she would know the "party line'' on the issue. And Crowley, like the puppet she is, performed as she was expected to. To call these debates fair would be obscene.

  • Banastre Tarleton

    Romney is ,like Al Gore and Kerry , an elitist ; Americans don't like preening elitists on the Right or the Left and THAT more than anything will be Romney's nemesis…how else can you explain how Gore , with every possible advantage , lost to a no name Governor from Texas …John Mccain was a true and trusted patriot and was a much more likeable and sympathethetic candidate than Romney and yet he lost to Obama

    • aspacia

      Oh, really? As Romney stops and helps a stranger remove a tree stump. It took this elitise 6 hours.

    • davarino

      Wow, I mean wow. Al Gore lost because he is filthy rich? John McCain lost because he deep sixed his own campaign, he tried to be nice. Wow, thats funny. So your saying that the people will vote for four more years of this pain and misery just because Mitt is an "elitist"? We will find out if your in depth analysis is true in just a few short weeks, oh and its not looking good for the "non elitist"

      • Banastre Tarleton

        When Obama is elected in about 2 weeks folks like you will create some bizarre and deranged conspiracy theory to try and explain it all …4 years ago it was the '' birther conspiracy '' ; this time it'll be the ''poll conspiracy ''

        Look Sherlock , can you explain how Willard wins this election without OHIO ?

        • gerry

          Stop doing a crowley,the birther conspiracy comes from Hillary Clinton,during the 2008 campaign!

    • Tom

      I disagree with your premise, but who do you think we should support now? By the way you are correct in stating that John McCain is a hero and should be honored as such, but not as a President. He like Kerry, Gore, and Obama are statists with the belief that government should be the distributor of largess for the common good. Mitt is in the “wait and see category” for that determination. But he is the only candidate that is in the race to remove Obama and save what remains of the Republic.

    • Gislef

      If Americans don't like preening elitists, why did they vote against… McCain?

      You also seem to be assuming Obama isn't an elitist. Appearing on high-profile Hollywood shows doesn't make someone just "one of the guys." Hobnobbing with Hollywood royalty kind of is elitist, actually.

    • guest

      The tech economy imploded a year before the election.

      Obama's net worth is over $100 million, earned solely off a political career.

    • Kufar Dawg

      Your Harvard Law school educated Obama who attended an Indonesian madrassah has a lot in common with the common man in the USA doesn't he DB?

    • mlcblog

      Au contraire! in my view. I see them groveling to the leftist elitists, especially the wealthy and powerful ones, not to mention the Hollywood contingent.

      i am praying the great American spirit will wake up and smell the coffee that Romney is offering.

    • Mike Thompson

      Wasn't John McCain the self-proclaimed expert on foreign policy who declared that Pakistan was supplying arms to Iraq because the two countries share a common border?

  • pierce

    Let's face it, what ever Obama says is fact. Take it to the bank, whether it is or is not. You can't argue with a know-it-all, and especially with one as glib as Obama. Unbelievable, but true.

    • mlcblog

      OK. I get it. This is sarcasm.

  • Jean

    The Obama administration IS a tsunami of lies. The truth is drowning in this election.

    • gerry

      Yes indeed! The guy is a pathological liar.America is a dead horse and becoming the laughing stock of the world.Please,reelect Obama,so we can have 4 more years of fun!

  • Loupdegarre

    Obama on Real Estate

    Romney: (thinks) you know what a lot is?
    Obama: Yeah, itsa too much.
    Romney: I don't mean a whole lot, just a little lot with nothing on it.
    Obama: Any time you gotta too much, you gotta whole lot. Look, I explain it to you…sometimes you no got enough, it's too much, you gotta whole lot. Sometimes you got a little bit. You no think it's enough, somebody else maybe thinks itsa too much, itsa whole lot too. Now, itsa whole lot, itsa too much, itsa too much, itsa whole lot…same thing.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I guess the zero didn't serve on the Harvard debate team while attending their law school.

  • Jonathan

    Do you think Who ate all the Candy Crowley got paid for this gig?

  • 11bravo

    Hey Dan, come on man…tell us something we don' know. Slow news day or what?

  • riverboatbill

    Facts? We don need no stinkin facts.

  • Bernard

    Embarrassingly for our country, Mr. Obama avoided the truth about having denied the request for extra security in Bendghazi and did nothing extra to protect the consulat after it was attacked 2x, months before 9/11. He tried to pin it on this terrible, satirical video which had nothing to do with the planned attack and avoided revealing his appeasement policy toward the middle east in general, and Lybia in particular, which resulted in the murder of our embassador and three other brave men.

  • https://www.facebook.com/sparkzilla Mark Devlin

    It is simply not possible for the media to fact check themselves – they are too entrenched in their own biases. Much fact checking simply uses the cloak of authority to hide yet another layer of bias – as is this example.

    For example, while Romney's claim about the decrease in federal lands is true do you know why, and why it's not as important as you think?

    A few weeks ago I started WeCheck http://wecheck.org which is like a Wikipedia for fact checks. WeCheck let's people of all political backgrounds come together to get to the truth of any political claim – as more information about a claim is added bias is lessened. Check our report on the issue, and if you can, please contribute your facts to the debate:

    • amused

      BRAVO ! MARK DEVLIN …BELLISIMO ! A man who thinks . Romneys claim about the decrease in Federal Lans etc , is what is known as " a cherry picked half-truth " , just as the 700 billion "cut from Medicare " .In the three debates so far only about a third of the satements made by Ryan ,Biden ,Obama and Romney have been 100 % True . The rest were half-true / half-false and plain out and out LIES . But your wasted words already been heard …and ignored here . You're in the echo chamber of the right where truth takes a back seat to ideological agendas . The pathetic thing about it all is that they know they are accepting lies . but it matters not , for here "the end surely justifies the means " …lol…aint that phrase usually associated with the Communists ?

  • Ghostwriter

    These days,it's really hard to know what the facts are and the media's no help. In fact,they're seen as siding with Obama. Unfortunately,we have to do this ourselves. I wish the media were A LOT more helpful in this regard.

  • amused

    Obama's exact words on Sept.12 ,2012
    "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."

    Conclusion ? ROMNEY'S A LIAR and so are the rest of you . But Romney's has an excuse – he'll say anything he's advised to say by his handlers , even if it is stupid , nonsense , or as in this case a well propagated Right wing LIE .

  • amused

    BTW Ghostwriter , please refrain from using the colloquial "WE " , people who seek truth will dispense with the partisan rhetoric , take with a grain of salt whatever the media has to offer AND get up off their butts and crosscheck themselves . And this should not be considered "unfortunate " , for it IS a requirement for anyone who wishes to open their mouth and make comment ….something that is sorely lacking and ABSENT on the part of the majority of posters and most of the alleged "journalists " who put forward their OPINIONS .

  • amused

    And of course Mark Devlin , if you have indeed fact-checked , you'll find that the " Mother of all Conservative wretching whining and handwringing " regarding the Obama Admins wild spending , the worst of all previous POTUS' ? ABSOLUTEL FALSE , in fact this Admin has the LOWEST BUDGETS Since President Eisenhower .- info easily found in several places , cross checked and confirm , in agreement wit the G.A.O . website . This election will be decided by the INFORMED , since to date partisan votes are virtually split , and those are of the uninformed , the misinformed , the deluded and the ignorant ,as you can plainly see by the posts and editorial both here and just as pathetic on the Left .

  • amused

    LOL….and taxes ? They are the lowest in 40 years .

  • amused

    Ergo- Crowley was RIGHT , and was generous using the word " misrepresenting the facts " , ROMNEY LIED . She may not ever do another Presidential debate , but she did however set a precedent by a moderator recpognizing a LIE and forcing the candidate to own up to it , oh wait Romney didn't own up to it , but he was nonetheless EXPOSED ..
    And as far as the soap opera remark by Tagg, Romney's son , who quipped he "felt like jumpingup and taking a swing at Obama ….well he got his own lies to deal with in an $8.5 billon dollar Ponzi scheme involving a " Wealth Management Firm " that Tagg & Dad are involved with . I guess the fruit don't fall too far from the tree , eh ?

    • Mike Thompson

      Right on, amused. My first thought on hearing this was to wonder why Tagg and his four able-bodied brothers aren't in uniform fighting the two wars their father believes in. Perhaps they could then all "take a swing" at al Qaeda and the Taliban. My working-class son is a sergeant in the Marine Corps and just returned from a dangerous tour in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. I guess in the Romneys' case the apples don't fall far from the tree — their father Mitt, during the war in Vietnam (a war he supported vocally), chose to slink over to France rather than serve his country. The Romney cowards are in good company — can somebody name any current Republican war heroes among the politicians and talking heads on Fox "News?"

  • Russell C

    The evidence against the idea of Obama implying that the Benghazi event was a "terrorist act" piles up further when a major news outlet refers to the President’s 9/12 remarks in its own analysis on the same day and attributes the attack to the anti-Muslim video:

    “PBS NewsHour’s “Fact-Checking Debate Claims on Libya Attacks” skips their own 9/12 facts” http://www.redstate.com/russellc/2012/10/18/pbs-n

  • FPF

    Sorry, at first glance of the picture, I thought, 'wow, FAT check'. Maybe I was a racist? Is FAT a race? Oh, my mind is so confused. PC wrecks havoc of many people's mind, no wonder many are under depression. Or maybe there is something to blame. How about blaming the 'FACT'?

    • Mike Thompson

      That would be "wreak" havoc, FPF. If you wreck havoc, you'd be achieving the opposite of what you intended. And you wreak havoc "on" something, not "of" it. On the whole, FPF, your post is kind of incoherent.

      • FPF

        Thanks Mike for correcting the mistake. Sarcasm sometimes can achieve it's intended purpose.

    • Mike Thompson

      Talking of fat, FPF, check out a picture of Danny Flynn — he's got more chins than the Hong Kong phone book.

      • FPF

        I know, size is not the point here. Ideology and it's induced consequence is.