Glenn Kessler and his editors may need a good rest!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013

Dear Leader provides latest “fact-check:” Every Sunday, the Washington Post includes a full-length Fact Checker piece in its hard-copy Sunday edition.

This Sunday, the Post featured this Fact Checker piece. Perhaps it’s time for Glenn Kessler and his editors to take a good long rest.

In Sunday’s post, Kessler “fact-checked” the following statement by Obama, made on May 31:

“The good news is, today, our businesses have created nearly 7 million new jobs over the past 38 months. Five hundred thousand of those jobs are in manufacturing.”

As Kessler notes, the statement by Obama was factually accurate. But he threw two Pinocchios at the prez anyhow. This was his explanation:
KESSLER (6/16/13): While the president has long preferred to point to the gain in jobs since early 2010—the low point in employment during his presidency—the fact remains that manufacturing employment is still about 600,000 jobs smaller than it was when he took office. That stands in stark contrast to overall non-farm employment—which is about 2 million jobs larger.

Moreover, the growth in manufacturing jobs has basically stalled over the past year. The president’s continued use of this 500,000-job statistic, even as other job stats keep improving, suggests the news is not as good as advertised. Without some presidential acknowledgment that manufacturing job growth has slowed in the past year, it might be time to retire this talking point. In the meantime, the president earns Two Pinocchios.
“Manufacturing job growth has slowed in the past year,” our Dearest Leader patiently tells us. For that reason, “it might be time to retire this talking point.”

Crazily inaccurate statements are being made all the time. The public ought to be warned about these false remarks.

This Sunday, though, the Washington Post decided to focus on a statement which is actually accurate. The Post just thinks it might be time to stop making this accurate statement.

On the one hand, we’re lucky to have a Dear Leader like this—a Dear Leader who is willing to tell the president when it’s time to “retire” an accurate statement.

On the other hand, is it time for Kessler and his editors to enjoy a good long solid rest?

9 comments:

  1. This illustrates the problem with the fact-checking format. Obama's statement was literally true, but it was deceptive, because of his cherry-picking. I know Bob disapproves of cherry-picking; he deplored it a couple of days ago when climate skeptics were accused of doing so.

    Unfortunately, it's entirely normal in political discourse to cherry-pick data so as to make the strongest possible case for one's POV. The fact that it's common doesn't make it right. I think politicians and pundits should be criticized for cherry-picking, but that criticism doesn't belong in a fact-checking format.

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  2. Quaker in a BasementJune 19, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Obama's statement was literally true, but it was deceptive, because of his cherry-picking.

    Please continue. Where is the "deceptive" part?

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    1. Obama implied that the economy was doing well and that manufacturing jobs were growing well. But, Kessler wrote, and Bob quoted him, that different statistics or a different comparison period, would show greater problems in the creation of manufacturing jobs.

      " the president has long preferred to point to the gain in jobs since early 2010—the low point in employment during his presidency—the fact remains that manufacturing employment is still about 600,000 jobs smaller than it was when he took office. That stands in stark contrast to overall non-farm employment—which is about 2 million jobs larger.

      Moreover, the growth in manufacturing jobs has basically stalled over the past year.

      Delete
    2. Quaker in a BasementJune 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Implied? Perhaps Kessler should have referred the story to the Implication Checker. The Fact Checker still awarded Mr. Obama two Pinocchios for stating facts that were perfectly accurate.

      "When he took office" is a rather odd metric to insist on, don't you think? After all, no president's policies produce instantaneous effects.

      Yes, you can pick a starting date that makes employment trends during Mr. Obama's tenure look bad. It's nuts to insist he do so as well before he can expect to be judged truthful.

      Delete
    3. Quaker, I agree with you that self-styled "fact-checker" shouldn't award Pinocchios to false implications.

      However, I disagree with your last paragraph. The cherry-picking was real. Mr. Obama chose the precise starting date that made him look best. Any earlier or later starting date would have shown worse results.

      Delete
  3. Kessler will never top the Benghazi! Column in which he said that Obama's Rose Garden statement did not characterize the attacks in Libya as terrorism because the President used the phrase "acts of terror." He cited no examples when this distinction was ever previously relevant but just offered that people tend to write statements carefully.

    Think on it! Obama's words were carefully chosen. And therefore, a decade after the phrase "Global War On Terror" had established that the "ism" was dispensable in White House rhetoric, Obama was being deceptive.

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  4. Because of the government's fiscal calendar, the first year a new President spends in office operates under the budget of his predecessor. The responsibility for fiscal policy starts the year after, in Obama's case 2010.

    It would accurate to say that Presidents don't have much control over the job market.

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  5. deadrat, I agree that a President's fiscal impact shouldn't be measured until the year after he takes office. E.g., fiscal year 2009 actually began on Oct. 2008. Obama shouldn't be blamed for the 2008 deficit. In fact, it may take some time for a President's economic policies to be enacted and then have major impact (good or bad) on the economy. Thus, Bush's policies may well deserve the credit for the jump in federal tax receipts that began in FT 2005.

    However, I disagree about how much control a President has on the job market. According to CNBC, ObamaCare is already hurting the job market.

    Note that the results of this poll are consistent with Kessler's observation that manufacturing jobs grew from 2010 to 2012, but the growth in manufacturing jobs has basically stalled over the past year. The CNBC poll and the pattern of actual manufacturing jobs both suggest that Obama's policies may have a significant negative impact on the job market. However, I think we will need to wait and see whether hiring picks up after ObamaCare is more fully implemented.

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