Fact Checking the Fact Checkers, Part 2
(Caption: Anthony Fremont banishing someone to the cornfield in the Twilight Zone’s “It’s a Good Life.” We need someone like him to banish the bad fact checkers.)
Last month, I brought to you a piece that examined the AP fact check following a debate and how it was horribly misleading (“Fact Checking the Fact Checkers, Part 1“). The AP decided to double down with another horrible fact check. I promised that Part 2 of this series would focus on general issues, but the AP “fact” check is too ridiculous to not be called into question.
As I pointed out before, each fact checker has its own gimmick. There will be no Pinnochios, no truthmeters, or anything of the such in this column. Instead, the bad fact checkers will be banished to the cornfield, never to be seen or heard from again. I lack the power, but there are many publishers and editors who should fire these individuals for crossing the ethical boundaries that are necessary for protecting the integrity of the field.
AP Iowa Debate Fact Check
1. Cruz: “It is the biggest job-killer in this country.”
AP: “Lost jobs? Since the time Obama signed the health care law in March 2010, the nation’s jobless rate has fallen from 9.9 percent to 5 percent. The economy has added more than 13 million jobs over that period.”
Fact Check: Merely saying that jobs rose does not negate that jobs were killed. There were many accounts from businesses that cut jobs or cut hours based on the regulations under the law. This is a situation of someone saying “I can’t find beef” and the faux fact check responding with “there is plenty of bread.”
2. Cruz: “Americans … have lost their health insurance”
AP: :Lost insurance? The share of Americans without coverage reached a historic low of 9 percent last year”
Fact Check: Once again, not what he said. At no time did the AP prove that those people didn’t lose their health care and be forced onto the exchange. Furthermore, the “coverage” number mostly includes Medicaid, which is not “their health insurance” if they were new enrollees. The AP did not read what was said and instead wanted to promote Obamacare in a misleading manner.
3. Trump… Does the AP not know that Trump didn’t show up to the debate? They should have deleted this section because it reveals that they typed up their fact check before anything started. Oops!
Trump: “China this year in trade will make over $500 billion dollars in terms of our trade deficit. $500 billion.”
AP: Trump should re-check his numbers before conducting a trade negotiation. He could be referring to the total U.S. trade deficit with every country in the world. That totaled about $508 billion in 2014″
Fact Check: Why did the AP not provide the 2015 numbers? Why did they use 2014? Sure, 343 billion is not the same as 500 billion, but the 2015 numbers are there.
Why also did the AP use old numbers when Trump clearly says “this year,” implying 2016 projections?
4. Rubio and Cruz: “You cannot destroy ISIS with a military that’s being diminished.” and Obama has “dramatically degraded our military.”
AP: The charge that President Barack Obama has starved the Pentagon has become a refrain in the GOP primary campaign, but amounts spent on weapons modernization are about the same as they were when Republican George W. Bush was president. Any military cuts GOP contenders are complaining about were approved by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Fact Check: It is odd that the AP reveals its bias so fully. Did Obama not engage in multiple battles that could have been avoided? Did he not “degrade” the military in other forms? Did Obama’s policies not do anything? Is funding all that matters? To the AP, they aren’t fact checking but putting forth talking points without actual facts. Blame someone else and ignore the truth is the AP fact checking method.
5. Cruz: “He’s not arming the Kurds.”
AP: “He is. The U.S. has allocated a substantial amount of weapons and other military equipment to help the Kurds fight the Islamic State group, and is sending the aid. The shipments have not been direct.”
Fact Check: Translation of the AP — “He is… but he isn’t. Just trust us, he is doing it in secret. Shhh.”
6. Christie: “For the 45-year-old construction worker out there, who is having a hard time making things meet, he’s lost $4,000 in the last seven years in his income because of this administration.”
AP: “There may be some in hard hats who’ve lost income, but on the whole, construction workers are faring much better than they did when Obama first took office. The latest federal jobs report showed their average weekly earnings have risen 2.7 percent annually since 2009”
Fact Check: Not when factoring in unemployment and increased medical costs.
7. Cruz: defending his threat to “carpet bomb” Islamic State fighters: “It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf War.”
AP: “The U.S. conducted an intensive air war against the Saddam Hussein government in the 1991 war. But to call it ‘carpet bombing’ misses one of the most important characteristics of that air campaign”
Fact Check: Translation of the AP — “We don’t like his choice of language because we don’t like him, so we will make up a new, arbitrary standard and label it a fact check.”
To repeat from last month: The AP has some of the worst “fact” checkers but clearly uses the best political pundits. If this AP article was all someone knew of the media then they could only conclude that journalism is dead.
Robert Burns and Josh Boak should not no longer be carried by the AP. However, I do recommend that they be added to Obama’s PR team because they have proven their worth.
Banish them to the cornfield.