Okay, it's a start.
It looks like the folks CNN have heard about and don't much like their network's reputation for the notorious false equivalency. Last night, of all things, Wolf Blitzer did a little fact checking of President Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney and, for once, President Obama came out on top. At least, it looked that way to me. See what you think. The video is here, following a brief commercial, of course. (Dissecting Romney, Obama promises on the playlist.) And, below the orange squiggly, a few snips from the transcript and a comment or two.
Sure, it's just a little over 4 minutes and a full treatment of Romney lies could be an 8-hour mini-series, but some of the more insidious right-wing mythology and Romney lies were actually debunked. Here are a few examples from the transcript.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: [video clip] I have said many times before, the president didn't cause the economic crisis. But he did make it worse.Then:
BLITZER: "Keeping Them Honest," when President Obama took office, the economy was in freefall, 4.5 million jobs lost in President Bush's last year and another 4.3 million jobs lost in the early Obama administration.
But as you can see, job losses slowed. Then gains started to appear and grew. For March, for example, the economy is expected to add about 200,000 jobs on top of the 230,000 jobs in February. That means as of February, the economy under President Obama had gained back about 3.2 million of those 4.3 million jobs lost during his administration.
According to a CNN Money survey of economists, all 4.3 million jobs lost on his watch could potentially come back by year's end. Also on the economy, there's this claim about the administration's economic recovery act.
ROMNEY: [video clip] The $787 billion stimulus included a grab bag of pet projects that languished in Congress for good reason for years. It was less a jobs plan and more the mother of all earmarks. The administration pledged that their stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. It has been above 8 percent every month since.So, it looks to me like President Obama won round one. Furthermore, when Blitzer moved to fact checking the AP speech yesterday, he began
BLITZER: Governor Romney is certainly right about the last part. Unemployment is now at 8.3 percent, up from 8.2 percent when President Obama took office, but down sharply from its peak of 10.1 percent in October of 2009.
As for the stimulus, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says it increased employment, created jobs by anywhere from about a million to maybe as many as three million jobs. As for the claim that the administration pledged to keep the jobs number under 8 percent, it comes from an estimate, not a pledge, in a report written by two top Obama economic advisers during the transition back in January 2009 shortly before the president took office.
Moving on to the president's speech, no outright falsehoods, but not always the whole truth. Take this on government regulationAnd. Blitzer's example is comparatively mild:
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES [video clip]: You would think they'd say, you know what, maybe some rules and regulations are necessary to protect the economy and prevent people from being taken advantage of by insurance companies or credit card companies or mortgage lenders.
BLITZER: It is true Governor Romney does want to repeal the law tightening regulations on the financial industry. However, he's also said as recently as last night, and I'm quoting him now, "We, of course, understand in a free market that regulations are necessary and critical."
And finally, on the individual mandate:
OBAMA: [video clip] There's a reason why there's a little bit of confusion in the Republican primary about health care and the individual mandate since it originated as a conservative idea to preserve the private marketplace and health care, while still assuring that everybody got coverage, in contrast to a single payer plan. Now, suddenly, this is some socialist overreach.I'd call round two a draw. Any requirement that President Obama should have added that he initially opposed the individual mandate and supported single payer which he compromised away in an effort to get SOMETHING passed in the face of Republican opposition to any assistance to the uninsured and uninsurable clearly pales in comparison to Romney's lies above.
BLITZER: On this, the president is right. The individual mandate was originally a conservative idea, even had some conservative support, by the way, while the Obama health bill was being drafted.
BLITZER: However, "Keeping Them Honest," it's a mandate that President Obama opposed when running for office. Here is his drawing a contrast back in the 2008 debate with then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who unlike President Obama, supported the mandate.
Blitzer finished the segment by welcoming his invited guests "Republican strategist and former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer and Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher who currently works for President Obama's reelection campaign." I'm not quoting any part of their discussion here because it's so predictable you could probably recite it from memory. If you don't think so, you can read it at the transcript link above. Suffice it to say, Fleische is an ass.
I found the whole thing to be an unexpected improvement by CNN. What do you think?