We’re off on a mission of national import!


Now they belong to the checkers: We’re off on a mission of nation import and won’t be posting again today.

That said, the fact-checking of Wednesday night’s speech by Bill Clinton really helps us see the state of our intellectual culture.

Here at THE HOWLER, we reviewed fact-checks by CNN and by WonkBlog. (Click here. Then click this.) Several others reviewed that amazing “fact-check” by the Associated Press.

For Kid Pareene’s treatment, click here.

Pareene’s scornful piece appears beneath these headlines:
Fact-check fail
The AP's moronic "fact check" of Bill Clinton's speech suggests the term is rapidly losing all meaning
We don’t disagree. But Sarah Kliff's fact-check at WonkBlog is just as important. And CNN's attempt at a fact-check was also a sad, epic fail.

CNN and the AP are two of the biggest names in American news. When they are functioning in such remarkable ways, it highlights a point we have made for some time: Our intellectual culture lies in tatters. Our journalists are almost completely inept. No one seems able to help.

The post by Kliff was equally significant. In her fact-check, a site which is supposed to represent the deep end of the liberal intellectual pool scored Bill Clinton’s remarks on Medicare as “false” and as an example of “double-counting.”

Especially in these budget matters, the liberal world has been tolerating or affirming right-wing disinformation for the bulk of the past forty years. Kliff’s multiply bungled analysis extends that disastrous culture.

Clinton’s presentation was right on the money—until our very smartest liberals decided they should chime in. Who needs truth-killers like Rush Limbaugh? We can turn light to darkness ourselves!

Our intellectual culture has lay in ruins for a good many years. Our journalists are completely inept. The professors are on vacation in France.

The groaning fact-checks of Clinton’s address re-established this point in a major way. You really can’t run a modern nation this way.

What’s a rich nation to do?

(We expect to post more on this topic over the weekend.)


  1. I thought I understood the Medicare matter completely, till I read Sarah Kliff after the address by Bill Clinton. I know I am slow, but please review the matter again so I get it and can help others get it.

    1. "Clinton’s presentation was right on the money"

      It's on the internets -- you can watch it again anytime you want.

    2. This is a reprint from my August 14 comment:

      "The Medicare cuts, passed in the Affordable Care Act, come in the form of reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. The Congressional Budget Office projects that they’ll extend the solvency of Medicare by eight years.
      AARP, the seniors’ lobby and chief gatekeeper of Medicare benefits, endorsed the Affordable Care Act despite its cuts, arguing that they wouldn’t affect seniors’ access to care. The law expanded benefits by closing the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.” The hospital and drug industries also endorsed the legislation, believing that the additional customers via the coverage expansion would more than make up for the cuts."

      The way I interpret it is Big Pharma is at the end of the government pipeline no matter what, so they are comfortable.

      Indigents going to hospitals will now be insured, so hospitals will collect much more money.

      I'm not so sure how Medicare Advantage will be affected. My provider, UnitedHealthcare recently sent me a short tract saying there would be no changes.

      Other Medicare Advantage providers have raised rates already.

      I hope this helps.

    3. The much shorter and more clear version is:

      -- There is a Medicare Part A trust fund with Medicare payroll tax money that hasn't been spent yet. This trust fund is likely to be used up in about 11 years. (When the savings account goes to zero, Medicare will still be able to cover about 90% of its expenses from the payroll taxes.)

      -- Because Medicare should be a little less expensive to run in the future, it will drain less money from the trust fund, which will thus last longer before going to zero.

      -- Some of the savings have been allocated to improving Medicare part D (drugs), instead of "allocated" to extending the trust fund.

      It is that simple. How this becomes framed as "robbing" money from Medicare completely escapes me.

  2. Ever since the law was changed to allow corporate america to buy up multiple news organizations Radio/TV stations this was inevietable.

  3. Modern "fact-checking" has always worked like this:

    Candidate A: "The earth is round"

    Candidate B: "The earth is flat"

    Fact-checker: "Since the earth is somewhat pear-shaped and not perfectly round or perfectly flat, both candidates are equally as wrong"

  4. Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman. That tells me a lot.

  5. Geez, Bob, our intellectual culture "has lay" in ruins? WTF?

  6. The medicare savings cut the fat, not the benefits. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    1. And the savings caused by reducing payments to providers and eliminating waste have extended the life of Medicare by eight years. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    2. And President Obama, as well as the Great Orator the night before, told us that although Obama hasn't cut Medicare yet, he soon will. Social Security will get "strenghtend" as well.

      Our tribal leaders keep telling us we have lost the economic war. Why do we refuse to listen?

    3. Teacher1 - he said he'd cut "health care costs". Not the same thing, especially when you recognize that there is so much waste in our system. That waste is, by and large, in the for-profit sectors of our system.

    4. By and large, I agree with the "cuts" that come about as a result of Obamacare not being called "cuts," because of the way they are structured, and because hospitals themselves have said they won't result in reduced services. But it's important not to get too invested in the idea. It's pretty plain that Obama is not averse to real cuts in the program as part of some masturbatory fantasy of a "Grand Bargain," and if you defend these non-cuts too aggressively now, if you buy too hard into the notion of cuts not being cuts, it becomes harder to push back down the road, as Obama's more blind supporters will describe all cuts, even real ones, as not really cuts at all.

      There are two battles here: the first is to get Obama re-elected, which is really about making sure Romney and his crazy party aren't elected. The second battle is to keep Obama from fucking up too badly again, once he has won. You really have to fight both at the same time.

    5. The funny thing every one knows he fucked up BIG but as the same time they are working to put him back in the office for more 4 years. Is this some type of stokholm syndrum.

    6. Maybe people remember how we got here. Maybe people think that only being 1/4 dug out of a hole isn't enough, but that its no time to start filling it back in.

    7. Anon 8:32,

      As long as we're acting like English majors here, why don't you rephrase your comment?

      I understand your point, but don't you want to reverse that metaphor?

      You know, 'When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!"

    8. Actually, oldmancoyote, hospitals in particular and the entire health care industry will see a vast improvement in revenue once all the uninsured they can't possibly collect from become insured.

      In return for that, they are willing to accept "cuts" in Medicare reimbursements to prolong the life of that program.

  7. Bob: It's "Has lain in ruins." Not "has lay in ruins."

    1. A vitally important correction. The difference between "lay" and "lain" is the sort of precipice upon which the fate of empires rests. It also allows one to pat oneself on the back for one's brilliance and education, which is, in the end, more important than the fate of empires. Bravo, sir or madam. Bravo.

    2. Right. Wondering why a Harvard-educated blogger can't use proper English is exactly the same as pretending that the fate of the empire rests on it.

      Meanwhile, this same blogger pretends that the fate of the empire rests on the fact that Ezra Klein didn't say "Paul Ryan is a humongous liar" in exactly the way the blogger says he should have.

      But that's OK. We all know what a profound shaper of public opinion Ezra Klein is. As Klein writes, so goes the empire.


    3. "Meanwhile this same blogger's Anonymous Idiot critic pretends daily that Somerby argues that the fate of the empire rests on the fact that Ezra..."

      Fixed that for you, Idiot.

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