Barack Obama

Fact-Checker's Lies-of-the-Year List Almost Completely Ignores Politicians Lying About Their Own Use of Power


"Just a small-town white boy, trying to make ends meet"? PANTS ON FIRE!

PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-check outfit housed by the Tampa Bay Times, has come up with its list of 10 finalists for Lie of the Year, or "the most significant falsehood of 2012." The list runs 5-5 in terms of Democratic-lies-about-Republicans vs. Republican-lies-about-Democrats, so I'm sure that organizers feel very even-handed. But in this Year of the Fact-Checker it symbolizes something that is deeply wrong with both political journalism and its latest favorite toy.

And that is this: Such exercises are not primarily concerned with lies told to the public by our most powerful government officials in the service of wielding their power. They are instead focused on the way that politicians (and their surrogates) characterize their competitors' actions and words.

The 10 Lie of the Year nominees include the way Mitt Romney interpreted Barack Obama's "you didn't build that" comments, the way Obama characterized Romney's position on abortion, Rush Limbaugh's claim that ObamaCare includes "the largest tax increase in the history of the world," a Democratic National Convention speaker's contention that "Mitt Romney says he likes to fire people," and so on. Only one of the Top 10–Obama blaming 90 percent of the 2009-12 deficit increase on George W. Bush–involved a politician lying about his own record.

Political journalism is supposed to serve as a check on the exercise of power. Instead it is serving as a check on the exercise of rhetoric. The latter can be a valuable (if limited) contribution when accurate, but the general absence of the former is an ongoing calamity.

At Reason, we tend to focus on the lies of politicians in the service of their deeds (for some details on the current president's lying, click here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, and here, for starters). Wanna see more of this kind of writing? Donate to our annual Webathon today!


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  1. Actually, I think Axl was “trying to take everyone’s meat”. FAT!

  2. Aha, Obama’s “lie” about 90% of the deficit being Bush’s fault is because he hasn’t yet overturned those Bush programs that caused the deficits.

    That is an interesting perspective. Obama won’t also overturn Social Security so that spending is his fault too.

    That one is worthy of the newly hatched Conservative Fact Check.

    Because extending fact-checking to the GOP bubble is needed now more than ever.

    1. You didn’t read the article, did you, Plugs. It doesn’t say Obama lied because he’s responsible for programs he hasn’t overturned.

      It says he lied because he (a) cooked the numbers and (b) assigned 100% of the responsibility to Bush for programs that he agrees with, voted for, and in at least one case expanded.

      1. His derpi-chlorian counts are off the charts!

        1. Now that is a win.

      2. So the fact checkers conclusion?

        Still, even our revised starting point of 17 percent is higher than Obama’s 10 percent.

        Still not a good candidate for Lie of the Year like “Government Takeover of Healthcare” or “Death Panels” were (past winners).

        1. “Government Takeover of Healthcare” or “Death Panels”

          Except those are true.

          1. Facts will never penetrate your reptilian wingnut truth shield, will they?

            1. I find partisans of every stripe are impervious to facts as well as contrary opinions, narratives, and worldviews, Plugs.

    2. Don’t ya’ll fact checkers go talkin’ ’bout shrike’s man or he’ll herp and he’ll derp and he’ll herpaderp your house down!

  3. From what I can tell, “fact-checking” consists mostly of expressing disagreement with the opinions of the speaker, anyway.

    1. Who knew he was talking about present-day Egypt in that song?

      Like start some mini-Iran…

    2. This song is less racist than Joe Biden on the campaign trail.

  4. The 10 Lie of the Year nominees include the way Mitt Romney interpreted Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments…

    Wasn’t the Romney campaign actually behind the curve on that? Didn’t pretty much everyone else jump on Obama for that comment, with Romney coming up the rear? Or am I thinking of something else?

    Anyway, this year factchecking credibility took a huge hit, with supposedly independent checkers making spinning words and deeds to serve their respective masters. I don’t think we’ll see it come back as legit but instead become just another arm of each camp’s propaganda machine.

    1. You are correct.

      AM radio was on that comment immediately (also misinterpreting it, by the way).

      1. I’d like to fact-check PolitiFact’s fact-check:

        If this is truly an exercise in rhetoric, than Obama needs to go back to grammar school. “That” is singular, referring to a single business that he says an entrepreneur didn’t build (or even one’s personal and individual success). If he was talking about infrastructure, he should have said “those” in referring to roads and bridges. But even then he would still be a fucking liar, since where does he think the money comes from to build said roads, bridges, and hire teachers, comes from?

        1. He went off teleprompter and was into paraphrasing Elizabeth Warren. Cut him some slack.

    2. The problem always was that even in context the “you didn’t build that” comment was a lousy argument.

      1. It’s utterly nonsensical, is what it is.

        Essentially, Obama was saying that a person’s business is partially society’s success. Which is retarded.

        Not that I am surprised.

  5. Says Barack Obama began his presidency “with an apology tour.”

    How exactly is that a “pants on fire” lie?

    1. Obama never apologized to anyone.

      He did say the US “acted arrogantly” – which is the understatement of the century so far. Then he went out and continued our arrogance.

      The “apology tour” lie germinated from wingnut radio.

      1. I am not siding with Romney, I just think it is hardly a blatant lie worthy of a “pants on fire” label.

        1. I am not siding with Romney

          Yes you are! You are either a liberal or an arch-conservative! There is no in between! Any criticism of Obama is a Romney endorsement! There are no libertarians! They’re all arch-conservatives! Tony said so so it must be true!

      2. In other words he went around apologizing without apologizing such that mendacious cocksuckers like you could bend reality.

        1. No, no, no, no! He never said the specific words “I apologize” so he didn’t apologize! There is no such thing as implication! Everything is literal! He didn’t say it so he didn’t apologize! Tony said so so it must be true!

          1. Why should a presidential candidate lie about it?

            Because weaklings apologize? Real sabre carrying he-men draft dodgers like Bush/Cheney/Romney would never apologize?

            The tactical part of Romney’s lie was a bigger lie.

            1. I’ve said this previously, but it was an apology tour and one that was necessary by Obama’s own words, which means he should have just owned up to it and embraced it.

              “Yes, I went around apologizing because Cowboy Bush damaged our relationships with key allies”

              That’s all that needed to be said.

      3. Classic example of an opinion being “fact”-checked.

      4. Good, shreiky, good; Obama’s knob won’t suck itself, you know.

  6. OT: Turns out zoning is unnecessary

    In the only major city in the United States without zoning laws, developers can, in theory, build virtually anything, anywhere in the city. In practice, however, understanding and catering to local industries is a critical element in site selection, Mr. Cover says. “When you really get down to it, the city is market-zoned, because land prices are not based on zoning rights, they’re based on purely capitalistic, highest and best use value,” he said. “If you build the wrong product or build in the wrong place, the market is going to severely punish you.”

    1. We have our problems like everyone else but I love Houston and our lack of zoning laws.

    2. Titty bars on every block!

  7. Politicians lying about their abuses of power is pretty bad, but I suspect we’re witnessing the beginning of Peak Awful: politicians mostly telling the truth about their abuses of power because they know that their base will re-elect them anyway. I mean, what worse thing could Obama have done, constitutionally, than kill an American citizen without trial? And the public reaction to this: meh.

    To me, that means we’re Well and Truly Fucked.

  8. I don’t think you people appreciate just what a great job Shriek and Tony are doing in their thorough polishing of Obama’s knob today.

    Serious, great job trolling guys. Two big thumbs up. You lying little shits are doing a fantastic job of being shitbags.

    1. Oh, NutraSweet; don’t you know that enabling scumbag politicians through a sockpuppet identity is the highest calling a useless, pointless person in their mom’s basement can do? Just imagine what the people behind shriek and Tony’s sockpuppets’ lives are like. They must just be grand. They probably even go out in the sunlight once a month. God, I envy them. Making the puppets dance and all. Maybe they even talk to a real live human besides their mom once in a while!

    1. But he meant well, so it’s not a lie!

      1. Let’s face it: Barry can say anything he wants and few will ever call him on his bullshit.

        1. They are active participants, ni deceiving themselves and trying to deceive others. Jugears McStalindra could say the sky is green, and his cult would fall over themselves “proving” he was right.

          1. Look at the way alleged liberal icon Ralph Nader was cast into the wilderness. Liberals embrace any maverick, icon, or agitator…until that individual threatens the Democratic Party.

    2. Now that I could see being pants on fire.

  9. The 10 Lie of the Year nominees include the way Mitt Romney interpreted Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments,

    I had a better interpretation: Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

    1. Seems about right.

  10. The lie of the year was the assertion that the US “consulate” in Benghazi was attacked because some goofball made a crappy movie that dissed Mohammad (PBUH and all that.)

    The Administration kept up that story line even after the Libyan Prime Minister repeatedly said that the attack was not the result of “spontaneous” crowd enthusiasm.

    I suppose, however, it wouldn’t be a lie if everybody in the Administration is completely incompetent.

    1. I suppose, however, it wouldn’t be a lie if everybody in the Administration is completely incompetent.

      There is another explanation

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