Manipulated: “The Fact Checker’s” Top Ten Lies Of 2013

liars2Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker,” came out with his list of the ten worst “Pinocchios” of the year (Kessler rates lies from one little growing-nosed puppet to four.) The Post’s version of this kind of column is fairer than most (The fairest and least tarnished by bias is, by a mile. Its list of worst lies is here.), and I don’t want to quibble with him too much, but it is clear to me that the top ten was rigged not to embarrass the President and his administration more than it already does.

The list gives Obama’s infamous pledge about Obamacare letting everyone keep the plan and doctors they want the #1 slot, which was unavoidable and most deserved. (Want to know how a really left-biased source handles the same statement? When Dick Chaney stated in an interview that this was a lie, the Daily Beast’s headline was “It takes one to know one..”) Obama also was rewarded two more top lies on the list, relating to the sequester and Benghazi, giving him the year’s championship and a total of three, but some of his statements in the post-Newtown gun control push were equally dishonest, and this one absolutely deserved a place:

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

…which is what he told supporters of Organizing for Action was what he should have said for three and a half years, but represented the statement as what he had been saying it all along. A video is here.

Then there is John Kerry (he has one big lie on the list already), who Kessler’s employers at the Post flagged for saying this about the mess in Egypt:

“The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence. And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgment so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy.”

“It is one thing to be cautious and avoid using the word “coup,” said the Post in an editorial, “which could trigger a cutoff of Egypt’s $1.5 billion annual U.S. aid package. But it is quite another to assert that Egypt’s military is “restoring democracy” when it has just removed an elected president from power.” Yes, and that other thing is “a gigantic lie.”

But Kessler couldn’t bring himself to objectively stock his top ten with five serious lies by the President of the United States and his Secretary of State (and who knows what nonsense Joe Biden came up with during the year, though I think Kessler was prudent to ignore him, as the rest of us do), so he dredged up lies by Jeb Bush (who pays attention to what Jeb Bush says? ), Michele Bachman ( who can’t tell fact from fiction, and is really in the Biden category), and  a campaign attack from Virginia’s governor-elect Terry McAuliffe that even Virginians (like me) don’t remember. The Fact Checker also apparently didn’t bother to enter Jay Carney in the competition, though he more or less lies every day as matter of course. Surely some of Carney’s whoppers would qualify for listing in any fair “Top Ten”  list; for example, this one, denying that Susan Rice did what the videotape shows she did:

“When Susan Rice spoke about Benghazi on Sunday news shows, she said “that al-Qaida might be involved, or other al-Qaida affiliates might be involved, or non-al-Qaida Libyan extremists, which I think demonstrates that there was no effort to play that down.” 

If Kessler is going to do a list about lying, he should do it honestly and let the chips fall where they may. That is called integrity. This list had a 5-5 Democrat-Republican balance: I think that was rigged, because the Post didn’t want either party to make the list into a partisan weapon. Well, the truth should be a partisan weapon. The Obama Administration lied a lot this year. Even with Kessler’s manipulation, his list reflects that, but the list still tries to mitigate the damage. That shouldn’t be his concern.

9 thoughts on “Manipulated: “The Fact Checker’s” Top Ten Lies Of 2013

  1. If he’d just made the list “The Top Five Lies From Each Of Our Beloved Lying Bastard Parties,” would that have been an acceptable format? (I think we all agree that Top 10 Lists are pretty arbitrary as it is.)

      • Actually, you know what? I’m just happy he stuck to ten. Because with so many lists like “48 Ways You Know You Were Born In The Nineties” or “25 Household Objects That Can Double As Mousetraps,” I’m just happy someone had the discipline to actually stick to TEN entries and not whatever arbitrary number Buzzfeed gave them on the Wheel of Nonsense.

        It’s nothing to do with the story, but… I’m so glad I didn’t become a journalist.

        • Hard to imagine how he managed to do that with all the big fat lies out there today. Default position is…assume you are being lied to. Maybe not ethical, but it saves time.

  2. I don’t know if this is a symptom of partisanship toward the left, seeking to protect the Dems/ Obama, or if it’s simply a symptom of the bizarre notion of “balance” that has infiltrated the media. It’s why vaccine deniers and conspiracy theorists get to be on news shows- journalists feel like “balance” means “give both sides time” regardless of how insane one side is. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if I somehow learned Kessler’s mindset wasn’t “protect Obama” but rather “I don’t want this list to be partisan, and if one side ‘wins’ that would be partisan, so the FAIR thing to do is make it exactly equal.”

    • Exactly. I always feel that way about the vaccine debate — no, we don’t have to give you equal time to explain your view, because you are an idiot. Same with holocaust deniers. Every time a program or article does that, it allows people to think there is room for doubt.

  3. “You can keep your coverage”, though a pretty worthy contender, wouldn’t have been my choice for Lie of the Year, it would’ve been Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s assertion under oath that the NSA doeesn’t collect data on American citizens. That being said, there’s another problem with Kessler’s “keep your coverage” pick: earlier in the year he called it “half-true”.

    I agree with the central point, though – Kessler has no obligation to balance the list with lies from one party or the other. I haven’t given enough thought to whether the Administration lied the most or Congressional Republicans or third parties (like media outlets) on either side, but there’s no need to have “balance” on the list.

  4. When is a lie not a lie? When it is in a good cause. And thus the slippery slope lands us up with the current state of affairs. good call.

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