'Fact-checking' Michele Bachmann

Jeff Lipkes
Fact-checking sounds great in theory.  Wouldn't it be nice to see statements by politicians analyzed intelligently and dispassionately?  But expect the tooth-fairy to tuck the controlling shares for Brooklyn Bridge, Inc. under your pillow before you're likely to see fair and balanced fact-checking from the Friends of the MSM.  In fact, a University of Minnesota survey from 2011 revealed that over three-quarters of PoliFact's "pants-on-fire" ratings were given to Republicans and just 22% to Democrats.  PoliFact obviously has a Joe Biden filter.

The numbers shouldn't be surprising.  PoliFact is a project of the left-leaning Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times.  Coincidentally, PoliFact won a Pulitzer prize the year after the CEO of Times Publishing was appointed to the Pulitzer board.  Factcheck.org is funded by the Annenberg Foundation.  Even before the death of its Reaganite founder, when it made a sharp left turn, an Annenberg foundation gave $50 million to Bill Ayers and Barack Obama to "reform" Chicago's public schools.  Other famous "fact-checkers," the AP and snopes.com, are not known for their conservative outlooks.

"Fact-checking" is simply a new tool to bludgeon conservative politicians.  The game is "gotcha": a trivial mistake, or simply an accurate statement that offends leftist sensibilities, gets a "pants-on-fire" rating, and pretty soon you have a "gaffe problem."

A case in point: a perfectly correct statement by Sen. Rand Paul that the average federal employee makes $120,000 a year, while the average private-sector employee makes $60,000.  This was labeled "FALSE," by PoliFact because the figures included benefits.  On salary alone, the folks on the federal payroll only made $31,000 more than their counterparts.

Probably no recent candidate was subjected to more intensive "fact-checking" than Michele Bachmann.  Here are some of the gems the checkers came up with:

Campaigning in Iowa, Bachmann called Waterloo the birthplace of John Wayne.  FALSE.  Though his parents had lived there, in fact Wayne was born in nearby Winterset.  The stupid lady was no doubt confusing him with killer John Wayne Gacy, who was born in Waterloo.

Bachmann referred to John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father.  FALSE.  J. Q. was 22  when the Constitution was adopted.  The dumb broad was no doubt confusing him with his dad, John Adams.  The statement actually came in a long answer to a question about the ownership of slaves by the Founding Fathers, and Bachmann correctly noted that J. Q. Adams was a leading opponent of slavery.  Though technically not a "Founding Father," the young J. Q. took part in discussions with delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Bachmann's most famous blunder concerned her reporting about the reaction of a friend's daughter to Gardasil.  Mandatory inoculation with the human papilloma virus vaccine had been ordered by Rick Perry.  Gardasil protects against about 70% of cervical cancers.  Like any medicine, there are side effects, and a very small percentage have been serious, including at least 32 deaths.  ("Gardasil girl" websites claim many more.)  While it was a mistake to publicize the statement of the friend, Bachmann was not making any claim about the vaccination herself.  With about .00775% of American women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, a parent whose daughter was not sexually promiscuous and was getting annual PAP smears might wish to forego the vaccination.

If you want a clue about the objectivity of "fact-checkers," take a look at what snopes.com has to say about Barack Obama's claim to have visited 57 states.  It turns out this "a mixture of true and false information."  Why?  Because Barack was obviously tired and meant to say 47, and some obscure, anonymous blogger somewhere claimed that he used this number because there are 57 Islamic states.

Fact-checking sounds great in theory.  Wouldn't it be nice to see statements by politicians analyzed intelligently and dispassionately?  But expect the tooth-fairy to tuck the controlling shares for Brooklyn Bridge, Inc. under your pillow before you're likely to see fair and balanced fact-checking from the Friends of the MSM.  In fact, a University of Minnesota survey from 2011 revealed that over three-quarters of PoliFact's "pants-on-fire" ratings were given to Republicans and just 22% to Democrats.  PoliFact obviously has a Joe Biden filter.

The numbers shouldn't be surprising.  PoliFact is a project of the left-leaning Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times.  Coincidentally, PoliFact won a Pulitzer prize the year after the CEO of Times Publishing was appointed to the Pulitzer board.  Factcheck.org is funded by the Annenberg Foundation.  Even before the death of its Reaganite founder, when it made a sharp left turn, an Annenberg foundation gave $50 million to Bill Ayers and Barack Obama to "reform" Chicago's public schools.  Other famous "fact-checkers," the AP and snopes.com, are not known for their conservative outlooks.

"Fact-checking" is simply a new tool to bludgeon conservative politicians.  The game is "gotcha": a trivial mistake, or simply an accurate statement that offends leftist sensibilities, gets a "pants-on-fire" rating, and pretty soon you have a "gaffe problem."

A case in point: a perfectly correct statement by Sen. Rand Paul that the average federal employee makes $120,000 a year, while the average private-sector employee makes $60,000.  This was labeled "FALSE," by PoliFact because the figures included benefits.  On salary alone, the folks on the federal payroll only made $31,000 more than their counterparts.

Probably no recent candidate was subjected to more intensive "fact-checking" than Michele Bachmann.  Here are some of the gems the checkers came up with:

Campaigning in Iowa, Bachmann called Waterloo the birthplace of John Wayne.  FALSE.  Though his parents had lived there, in fact Wayne was born in nearby Winterset.  The stupid lady was no doubt confusing him with killer John Wayne Gacy, who was born in Waterloo.

Bachmann referred to John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father.  FALSE.  J. Q. was 22  when the Constitution was adopted.  The dumb broad was no doubt confusing him with his dad, John Adams.  The statement actually came in a long answer to a question about the ownership of slaves by the Founding Fathers, and Bachmann correctly noted that J. Q. Adams was a leading opponent of slavery.  Though technically not a "Founding Father," the young J. Q. took part in discussions with delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Bachmann's most famous blunder concerned her reporting about the reaction of a friend's daughter to Gardasil.  Mandatory inoculation with the human papilloma virus vaccine had been ordered by Rick Perry.  Gardasil protects against about 70% of cervical cancers.  Like any medicine, there are side effects, and a very small percentage have been serious, including at least 32 deaths.  ("Gardasil girl" websites claim many more.)  While it was a mistake to publicize the statement of the friend, Bachmann was not making any claim about the vaccination herself.  With about .00775% of American women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, a parent whose daughter was not sexually promiscuous and was getting annual PAP smears might wish to forego the vaccination.

If you want a clue about the objectivity of "fact-checkers," take a look at what snopes.com has to say about Barack Obama's claim to have visited 57 states.  It turns out this "a mixture of true and false information."  Why?  Because Barack was obviously tired and meant to say 47, and some obscure, anonymous blogger somewhere claimed that he used this number because there are 57 Islamic states.