Friday, October 03, 2008

Fact Check Check

The Washington Post is fact checking the vice Presidential debate. Here is a fact check in its entirety.

Hamas
10:17 p.m.
Biden claimed that Obama warned against the administration's decision to push for Hamas participating in Palestinian legislative elections in early 2005. Obama had only been a senator for a few days when the election took place, but if he made such statements they did not appear in news reports or transcripts that are contained in the Nexis or Factiva news databases.

Obama was one of 70 members in the Senate who signed a letter a month before the Palestinian election expressing concern that Hamas was participating without disarming. The letter did not say a victory in the election would give Hamas credibility, but urged Bush to insist that Hamas adhere to "a basic set of principles before they can run for political office." Biden did not sign the letter.
--Glenn Kessler


So Obama's signature is on a letter which urged Bush to insist that Hamas do something that Hamas had not done before participation in the Palistinian election but there is no record in Nexis or ├╣Factiva that Obama Wwarned against the administration's decision to push for Hamas participating in the the Palistinian legislative elections.

I have a vaguely positive impression of Glenn Kessler but I must award him 4 Pinocchios for this one. I don't know if his claim in the first paragraph is grossly false or if his claim in the second paragraph is grossly false, but one of them must be, since he plainly contradicts himself.

Here is another one

Diplomacy
10:00 p.m.
Biden said that McCain said he would not "sit down with the government of Spain." This is an overstatement. Biden is referring a recent interview McCain gave to a radio station, in which McCain did not appear to recognize the name of the Spanish prime minister.

"I'm willing to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for human rights, democracy and freedom and I will stand up to those who are not," McCain said, in comments that riled the Spanish government.

But in In an early-April interview with a reporter from Spanish newspaper El Pais, McCain said, "This is the moment to leave behind discrepancies with Spain" and said he would like the prime minister to visit the United States.
--Glenn Kessler


Kessler neglects to mention that the McCain campaign insisted that McCain had understood the question and that he had stated his official position on the question. That little detail -- confirmation long after the fact and after the question had been transcribed, translated and retranslated -- is absent from Kessler's analysis. Biden is right. Kessler is wrong. McCain said it, Scheunmann confirmed it and McCain did not contradict Scheunmann.

Look I know Kessler is fact checking in real time, but so am I. How about we take up a collection and buy him a subscription to the Washington Post ? Wouldn't help. The article which proves that Biden was right and Kessler is distorting the facts was written by By Glenn Kessler and Ed O'Keefe. The fact that McCain has flip flopped and reversed his earlier position rather than admit to not understanding a question is not Biden's fault. The fact that Kessler neglected to mention the position of the McCain campaign as communicated directly to him (or his co-author) earns him the rare 5 Pinocchios for writing something so absurd that Sarah Palin wouldn't say it.

Kessler isn't alone. Jonathan FBD Weisman adds his bit

Taxes
9:29 p.m.
Sen. Joseph Biden accused John McCain of offering big oil companies $4 billion in tax breaks. That is misleading. The figure comes from the share that the oil companies would get from McCain's corporate income tax cut proposal. He has not proposed a tax break solely for oil companies.
--Jonathan Weisman


I think the paragraph would be improved if the word "misleading" were replaced with the word "correct". Biden didn't say that it was solely for oil companies.

Update: When I read the text in the link at Eschaton I thought I had been scooped, but it turns out that there is a much more important case of Biden being right and the fact checkers being wrong.


Summary:
In reports on the vice presidential debate, CBSNews.com, MSNBC.com, and FactCheck.org all falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden's statement that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 appropriations bill was wrong. In fact, while McCain did not vote on a later version of the appropriations bill, he voted against the measure on March 29, 2007, and said at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.


To avoid rubbing it in, I won't mention how Cokie Roberts (et al) corrected Biden for referring to Bosniaks as "Bosniaks".

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