Fact Checking ABC's This Week: Most 'False' Statements Uttered by Democrats
Back in April, as ABC's Jake Tapper took over as interim host of This
Week (pending the arrival of ex-CNNer Christiane Amanpour in August),
the show asked the fact-checkers at PolitiFact to evaluate
the truthfulness of statements made on the show.
After nearly three months, the results show far more Democrats and liberals earning a "False" rating, with most of the "True" ratings going to Republicans and conservatives. The discrepency remains even if you take into account that about two-thirds of the evaluated statements came from Democrats in the first place.
From April 11 through June 20, PolitiFact has handed out seven "False" statements - six to Democrats/liberals, one to a Republican. During that same time, seven "True" labels were handed out - four for Republicans/conservatives, just two for Democrats (one, ironically, going to former President Bill Clinton).
Retired General Colin Powell also picked up a "True" for a statement about the number of troops President Obama has deployed to Afghanistan, but it's hard to say which side Powell represents these days.
PolitiFact is a project of St. Petersburg Times Washington bureau chief Bill Adair, who is a frequent "fact check" guest during election years. Some of the statements hardly seem worthy of a fact-check (such as Clinton's assertion that he never had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate; who ever said that he did?), but here are the 14 instances of "True" and "False" labeling of statements made on This Week, along with a short quote from PolitiFact's verdict:
# Charles Schumer, April 11: "No one questioned that she (Judge Sotomayor) was out of the mainstream."
FALSE: "We recalled that phrase came up a lot during the Sotomayor confirmation debate, so we did some checking. To start, we direct your attention to a July 13, 2009, AP story under the headline, 'Sessions: Sonia Sotomayor "out of mainstream."'...And Sessions wasn't the only Republican to invoke the 'out of the mainstream' claim....We understand that 'out of the mainstream' is a subjective term, but the fact is that a number of Republican senators used that exact phrase."
# Former President Bill Clinton, April 18: "I never had a filibuster-proof Senate."
TRUE: "Senate records show Republicans held 43 seats when Clinton came into office, and they added another seat in June of that year with the election of Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas....Republicans won a majority of seats in the Senate in the 1994 elections and retained control of both houses throughout the remainder of Clinton's presidency."
# Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, April 25: "Fifteen years ago, the assets of the six largest banks in this country totaled 17 percent of GDP ... The assets of the six largest banks in the United States today total 63 percent of GDP."
TRUE: "Independent sources and experts confirm that, so we rate his statement True."
# HBO Host Bill Maher, May 2: "Brazil got off oil in the last 30 years."
FALSE: "In 2008, Brazil ranked No. 7 on the list of the world's countries that consume the most oil, using about 2.5 million barrels per day....It's also embarking on more offshore drilling in some of the deepest waters for exploration. Brazil is hardly 'off oil.'"
# Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, June 6: "Every major study that has been done by a legitimate group ... shows that there are hundreds of thousands of jobs to be created if you pass our (cap-and-trade) legislation. And if you wind up pricing carbon."
FALSE: "The fact is that other 'legitimate groups' have performed studies and reached different conclusions. Kerry's statement suggests there is some unanimity of opinion among legitimate organizations about cap-and-trade's effect on jobs. And that's just not so."
# Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, June 6: Turkey is an Arab country.
FALSE: "The one thing that Turkey has in common with the Arab world is religion: An estimated 99.8 percent of the Turkish population is Muslim....Moulitsas has graciously copped to his error (and even invited us to ding him), but the Truth-O-Meter doesn't cut any slack for confessions."
# Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, June 13: The Obama administration "has been constrained by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which basically gives the responsible party the lead role in trying to not only fix the problem, but contain the problem."
FALSE: "In fact, the Oil Pollution Act specifcially gives the federal government the authority to decide who's in charge of the clean-up - the polluter or the government. The company, in this case BP, will pay for the clean-up response. But the federal government can give the orders if it chooses."
# White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, June 20: "In the case of General Motors, the (Bush) administration wrote a check without asking for any conditions of change."
FALSE: "The Bush administration did put specific requirements on the auto companies that included paying down debt, limits on executive compensation, and negotiated reductions in wages and benefits for autoworkers. It also required the companies to submit detailed restructuring plans by Feb. 17, 2009, that would show how the company planned to achieve and sustain 'long-term viability, international competitiveness and energy efficiency.'"
# Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, April 11: "President Obama himself attempted to filibuster Justice Alito, who now sits on the Supreme Court."
TRUE: "We found that Obama did join a broader Democratic effort to filibuster Alito. Democrats said Alito opposed abortion and was too deferential to executive power. But in what's become Obama's trademark on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand style, he joined the filibuster while at the same time saying he thought it was a bad idea."
# Jon Kyl, April 11: Says he did not say Republicans would filibuster immigration reform.
FALSE: "Kyl's staff provided us with a transcript and video; they said it showed more context for Kyl's statement. We reviewed the material; here's an extended version of Kyl remarks: 'My guess is, neither (card check and immigration reform) will have the votes to pass. But because political promises have been made to key constituency of the party that is in power, that they're going to do something about these problems, they will bring up very partisan legislation. Republicans will, primarily Republicans, will vote it down, that is to say we will prevent it from coming up through the filibuster....'"
# GOP Chairman Michael Steele, May 23: In Hawaii, "they don't have a history of throwing incumbents out of office."
TRUE: "Depending how you count it, that puts the re-election rate in Hawaii between 98 percent and 100 percent, which is higher than the national average over the same period....No incumbent has ever lost a November congressional election in Hawaii."
# Michael Steele, May 23: The Republican Party "fought very hard in the '60s to get the civil rights bill passed, as well as the voting rights bill."
TRUE: "The degree of Republican support for the two bills actually exceeded the degree of Democratic support, and it's also fair to say that Republicans took leading roles in both measures, even though they had far fewer seats, and thus less power, at the time."
# House Minority Leader John Boehner, June 13: "The House has never failed to pass a budget in the modern era."
TRUE: "According to the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress, the House has indeed passed a budget every year since the Congressional Budget Act first took effect for fiscal year 1976."
Unable to Classify:
# Retired General Colin Powell, May 30: "The president has added close to 68,000 troops in the last year, since he came into office, not just the 30,000 you hear, but the others that were added before that."
TRUE: "Obama took office with about 34,000 troops. There are now 94,000 troops and closing in on 98,000 troops by summer. When you count small additions by NATO, that gets us close to 68,000."
As with many political statements, there were many "Mostly True" (5
Dem vs. 2 GOP, plus Joe Lieberman), "Barely True" (2 Dem vs. 1 GOP, plus
a BP official), and "Half True" assertions (9 Dem/Lib vs. 2 GOP/Con)
catalogued over the past three months. You can see the whole list at PolitiFact.com.
-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.