Media “Fact Checks” the President’s Speech and Finds it Wanting

January 27, 2011 06:22

So Obama lied? FACT CHECK: Obama and his imbalanced ledger. You read right. The AP writers found that most of what the president said did not add up.

It is not often that one of the largest media enterprises in the nation posts an immediate check of the facts in a president’s State of the Union speech.

Yet, that is precisely what the Associated Press did late Tuesday night as it measured what President Barack Obama had said and verified the veracity of his statements.

The story posted on the web carried the headline: FACT CHECK: Obama and his

Did Obama steal a 2005 GOP theme?

imbalanced ledger. You read right. The AP writers found that most of what the president said did not add up.

“Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed “we redouble these efforts.” He coupled this with a call to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years,” the AP story said.

It added, however that Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, the AP said the president wants to eliminate “billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies.” Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

The AP Looked at five of the president’s statements, and found he lacked the facts to back them. The story talked about how repeal of the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to the deficit; how he would veto any law that came to him with an earmark; that he would support a Republican proposal to enact “medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits;” praised the “important progress” made by the bipartisan fiscal commission he created last year; and he spoke of nuclear disarmament and the effect of the sanctions imposed against Iran.

In all five cases, the AP fact-checking reporters found that the president’s statement would not stand close scrutiny.

It was a harsh evaluation of Obama’s second State of the Union speech.

But the AP was not alone. The Washington Post and USA Today posted their own fact checks, and in most the president was found wanting.

Analysts on more than one network found that speech was flat, that it did not have many specifics and that his call to invest in innovation, in education, and in new infrastructure was simply code for more government spending.

Yes, some of those who called his speech flat spoke on Fox News. Among them were Charles Krauthammer and Brit Hume. Krauthammer said this was a “flat uninspiring speech” adding that it was remarkably against what the voters want.” For his part Hume said the president was attempting “to rationalize for more government spending.”

However, the president was also criticized by liberal commentators like Ron Martin who said on CNN that he was disappointed Obama had made no mention of the poor, of children or of guns, even at a time when the country is still shocked by the shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, earlier this month.

The Washington Post also posted a less than flattering check on the facts behind the president’s speech. It was lengthier and addressed many more issues than the one posted by the AP. Most of it was not favorable to the president.

Before the evening was over, White House officials were busy explaining why the president had not mentioned gun control in his speech. The Hill’s blog said that White House adviser David Plouffe had told NBC’s Brian Williams that Obama had not mentioned gun control because his speech focused on the economy.

“He’s going to address this,” Plouffe said.

The Americano/Agencies

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