Supplemental: Kessler reports who's been naughty and nice!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2015

Insists that Both Sides Do It:
Glenn Kessler is the editor of the Washington Post's Fact-Checker blog. This morning, he posted his list of the twelve biggest whoppers of the entire year.

At the top of the Post's web site, these statements are currently being advertised as "the most outrageous claims" of the year. This is the way the copy reads at the top of the site:
Who made the most outrageous claims in 2015?
The presidential campaign has dominated our coverage. In particular, businessman Donald Trump—who rocketed to the top of the GOP field—also soared to the top of our list.

By Glen Kessler/Fact Checker
If you click the link, you get to peruse Kessler's choices. He introduces his list like this:

"It's time for our annual round-up of the biggest Pinocchios of the year."

What were the year's most outrageous claims? Who made these outrageous misstatements? In our view, Kessler's list is rather strange—except as an illustration of a form of journalism which everyone has long rejected as bogus.

Who made the year's most outrageous claims? For starters, Brian Williams didn't make the list!

We'll chalk that one up to professional courtesy. But Carly Fiorina didn't make the year-end compilation either.

Who did make the year's biggest misstatements? Uh-oh! Executing an awful old mandate, Kessler matches six misstatements by Republicans with six misstatements by Democrats. He rattles them off in perfect order—Rep/Dem, Rep/Dem—all the way to the end.

We've never seen a more perfect execution of the "Both Sides Do It" mandate. In the year of Williams, Fiorina and Trump, it makes for a puzzling display.

Let's be fair! Kessler lists misstatements by Candidate Trump in three of the twelve spots on his list. Still and all, his seating chart reads Rep/Dem, Rep/Dem all the way to the bottom.

Fiorina's dogged misstatements about Planned Parenthood didn't make the list. Instead, Kessler includes relatively marginal alleged misstatements by the likes of Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Elizabeth Warren.

We were puzzled by parts of the Kerry indictment when it appeared in March. It doesn't make better sense today. (Hint: A person can "help organize" a hearing he doesn't himself attend.)

The alleged misstatement by Clinton is a bit skeevy too. As best we can tell, it isn't clear that Kessler even knows that the statement in question is false.

Obama had to be included, of course. His "outrageous claim" seems somewhat less than outrageous too. But if you're wed to "Both Sides Do It," it simply has to be done this way. By law, you're required to list six howlers from each of the warring tribes.

Might we state a few basic principles at this point?

Fact-checking is a good thing; silly fact-checking isn't. Fact-checking starts to get silly when fact-checkers invent silly rating systems (in this case, based on Pinocchios) or when they create year-end lists to compete with those which name the year's best movies.

Largely because of Candidate Trump, this has been an extremely strange, watershed year in the realm of public misstatement. No one else has ever repeated bogus claims with such total abandon, unless it's Kessler's own colleagues at the Post or figures from talk radio.

Fiorina followed Trump off the edge of the world with her Planned Parenthood misstatement, which she simply refused to acknowledge, repair or correct. But because of Kessler's seating chart, she didn't make the list.

A year-end essay by a fact-checker might have noted such facts. Instead, Kessler constructed the ultimate "Both Sides Do It" list. Because of his "Both Sides Do It Equally" mandate, he didn't have room for Fiorina, or for several more of Trump's extremely weird repeated misstatements.

In our view, Kessler's list is strange and sad. As we scanned it, we thought of Goofus and Gallant.

Do you remember Goofus and Gallant? The youngsters have been starring at Highlights for Children magazine since 1948. They are used, in cartoon form, to illustrate good deportment.

Goofus always screws everything up; Gallant does everything right. To refresh yourselves about this pair, you can just click here.

Goofus is naughty and Gallant is nice. But so what? If Santa worked the way Kessler does, Goofus would get the same toys Gallant does every year! The youngsters were equally wrong!

Fiorina made no gross misstatements this year. Neither did Brian Williams.

14 comments:

  1. Also on the list is the absurd award of Pinocchios to "Hands Up-Don't Shoot". Kessler repeats the lie that Brown's last words were "Don't shoot"...The only reliable witness to Brown's last words repeated them as "OK, OK" (and demonstrated on real time video how high Brown's hands were up). That video can NOT be disproved...It's real. What's true is that the Ferguson police rounded up people who claimed to have seen the shooting yet knew nothing about it. Yet the bizarre DOJ report used those fake "witnesses" to discredit the real ones and take a "nobody knows" view. No "Hands Up.." lie was ever shown. The conduct of the lower level DOJ staff and Kessler's crew was shameful.

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  2. The media don't like to point out Barack Obama's falsehoods, lest they be called "racist". E.g., President Barack Obama praised a landmark climate change agreement approved Saturday in Paris, saying it could be "a turning point for the world." But, even the New York Times acknowledged that the result of that conference was actually disappointing. See: Falling Short on Climate in Paris

    Maybe that's a forgivable lie, because the President is supposed to be upbeat. But, the President also has made other unrealistic upbeat comments about the fight against Islamic terrorism.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Jesus, David - one man's "landmark" can easily be "disappointing" to others, but it's hard to see how this agreement wasn't overall a success in garnering international seriousness and cooperation on global warming. Another turd in the punch bowl gone fallow.

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    2. Dave the Guitar PlayerDecember 15, 2015 at 12:41 PM

      I also think David should be careful about using the term "lie". I would think most people would reserve the use of this term to refer to things that could be disproved by facts. No one (no one) can know if this agreement is truly "a turning point for the world", but this statement is certainly not a lie. It is an opinion, especially if the word "could" was used. Calling everything someone says is a lie is a complete failure of rational thought.

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    3. EVERY Conservative wants the US to declare war on ISIS.
      Ask them how we'll pay for it.
      Make them confront the lie they have been telling since January 20, 2009 at approximately 12:01 PM Eastern Time: The richest country in the history of mankind is broke.
      Or maybe I'm just being tribal, and it isn't a lie. In that case, sorry no war with ISIS, we can't afford it.

      Berto

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  3. And, there's no excuse for Mr. Obama's assertion in Paris, “I say this every time we have one of these mass shootings. This just doesn’t happen in other countries.”

    The New York Times, to their credit, published a letter pointing out "the 1996 massacre of 16 children at a Scottish primary school; the 2000 killing of eight kids in Japan; the 2002 deaths of eight people in Nanterre, France; the 2002 killing of 16 kids in Erfurt, Germany; the 2007 shootings to death of eight people in Tuusula, Finland; the killing of 10 people at a Finnish university less than a year later; the 2009 killing of 15 people in Winnenden, Germany; and, needless to say, Anders Breivik's 2011 mass murder of 77 Norwegians, most of them teenagers."

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    Replies
    1. You may not be dumb, but you sure are stupid,

      LG

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    2. He is giving it the old Bobfan try.

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    3. Trump tweeted that he has a 132 IQ. He thinks that's a high number.

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    4. Is it possible to be more wedded to your own bullshit than David is?

      11:31 shows us that the answer is yes.

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    5. 7:17 Doing his part to help Bob break into double figures before the Turk porno/Spellcaster faction of the Somerby fan club arrives.

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    6. David in Cal, you are the liar. Obama is correct, the mass shootings situation in the US is unique. We have on average more than one a day. No other country comes close. This is what happens when conservatives cling to their misguided notions:

      http://ww2.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2015/12/14/doctors-call-for-end-to-20-year-ban-on-gun-violence-research/

      "In fact, gun suicides far outnumber gun homicides. More middle-aged white men die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds than men of color who die in gun homicides."

      Delete
  4. "(Hint: A person can "help organize" a hearing he doesn't himself attend.)"

    Yes, just like a person can take the "initiative in creating" something and can find "a little place in upstate New York."

    ReplyDelete