The Corner

Fact-Checkers Having Trouble With Facts

ABC’s live blog sought to fact check some of the debate, but seems to have a problem recognizing when a fact is, well, a fact.  So, for instance, with regard to oil and natural gas production on federal lands (that production most in any Administration’s control), Romney said that “production on government land is down by 14 % and production on gas is down 9%.”  About this, ABC writes: “Oil production on public lands did drop by 14 percent in 2011 and natural gas production did drop by 9 percent (according to the US Energy Information Agency). BUT – overall, oil production is actually up slightly from 2009 to 2011.” ABC’s verdict? “Not quite factual.”  Huh?  Romney’s claim was 100 percent true.  ABC might counter that he left out other relevant facts, specifically the overall increase in oil and gas production — but Romney acknowledged that very point, as the transcript shows: “And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent.”  ABC just got this wrong — as did the President who tried to deny Romney’s claim.  (To be fair to ABC though, Romney did slightly overstate the percent decline in permitting on federal lands, but he was correct about the change in policy, when the President was not.)

Jonathan H. Adler — Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in environmental, administrative, and constitutional law at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

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