Media Blog

Re: Fact-Checking MSNBC

OK… I can put the tinfoil away for now. MSNBC has the post-debate transcript up.  But, there are some more areas of Shuster’s “fact checking” that need further review:
On McCain and 2006:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN ® ARIZONA:  On the issue of why we lost the election in 2006 is because be did lose our way.  We began to value principle over power and spending got out of control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Spending out of control—he said it lurched completely out of control, and that may be true, but every poll found that the reason Republicans were swept out was not because of spending, but because of the Iraq war and also corruption. 

Every poll?  Does MSNBC have the back-up on that?  Even so, McCain was answering why he thought Republicans lost in 2006.  This really isn’t something that rises to “truth squad” status.  It’s an opinion.  Also, McCain misspoke, but he was saying that Republicans began to value power over principle.  Sounds a lot like that would fit into EVERY poll that said corruption was an issue.

As posted earlier, on Romney and abortion:

Now, on the issue of abortion, you’ve already heard that both Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani seemed to be little bit tripped up in their positions on abortion, as far as clarifying it, but they both also made some mistakes as far as explaining their evolution in their thinking.

First, here is Mitt Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I have always been personally pro-life, but for me it was a great question about whether or not government should intrude in that decision.  And when I ran for office, I said I’d protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position.  About two years ago, and we were studying cloning in our state, I said, Look, we have gone too far.  It’s a brave-new-world mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us, and I changed my mind.  I took the same course that Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and Henry Hyde took.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Actually, that’s not a course at all that George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan took.  Both were consistent.  George H.W. Bush particularly so on the issue; he was always pro-life.  Furthermore, Mitt Romney’s position, actually he says that he was supportive of abortion back when he was running for Senate, and that was not a question, in any case.

As I posted before, Shuster needs to issue a correction on this.

On Giuliani and abortion:

Now let’s look at Rudy Giuliani and how he dealt with his shifting position on abortion.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But ultimately, since it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a woman’s right to make a different choice.  I support the ban on partial-birth abortion, I support the Hyde amendment.  But ultimately, I think, when you come down to that choice, you have to respect a woman’s right to make that choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  A lot of people would suggest that simply is an incompatible statement.  The Hyde amendment, for example, refers specifically to government funding, government payment, for women to get an abortion.  Giuliani initially said, several years ago, he supports government funding, then a month ago he said he is against government funding.  Then he told an interviewer he is for government funding, and then again tonight you heard him say, “I support the Hyde amendment,” which is against government funding.

I like Shuster’s attention to detail here.  How about some dates so we can actually look at the quotes?  Or is this “truth squad” from memory?  Also, as the Rudy camp argued to Byron York, the Hyde amendment is more complicated than Shuster describes.

On Duncan Hunter and the Clintons:

Now, there were a number of shots tonight at Hillary Clinton, and specifically Bill Clinton, and whether or not he should be back in the White House.  Congressman Duncan Hunter said that some of the military shortfalls that we’re facing in Iraq can be blamed on the Clinton administration.  Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONGRESSMAN DUNCAN HUNTER ® CALIFORNIA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You know, Bill Clinton cut the U.S. Army by 50 almost percent.  In this war against terror, he’s the wrong guy to have in there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Fifty percent—well, that’s not actually right.  It was about 35 percent—they cut the number of active duty divisions from 18 to 10, but again, this was at the end of the Cold War, these cuts had Republicans support, and furthermore, the Clinton administration is widely credited with modernizing the military to the extent that the military was able to sweep in Iraq, early in the invasion, and have the kind of success it did, early on. 

Actually, 8 divided by 18 is 44.4 percent decrease, not 35 percent.  Also, please provide us with an example of when the Clinton administration was “widely credited” for our early success in Iraq.

On Tommy Thompson and Iraq:

Finally, there were no major gaffes tonight that might cost anybody in a campaign, but Governor Tommy Thompson seemed to come awfully close to seeming out of touch with Iraq, when he was asked specifically for the numbers, as far as casualties and injuries in Iraq.  Here’s how he responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There’s been over three thousand who’ve been lost, and several thousand have been injured.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHUSTER:  Actually, it’s not just several thousand — 24,314 U.S. troops have been injured.  The actual number killed so far:  3,354 — Thompson was off by 10 percent. 

One, Shuster is harping on the definitions of ”over” and ”several” here.  Two, I’m not sure what Shuster is referring to when he says 10 percent.  If Thompson had said, “3,000 dead,” then Shuster is correct.  But Thompson said “over three thousand who’ve been lost.”  Unless Shuster is defining “over” as less than 10 percent, there’s no reason to say Thompson was wrong on the number of soldiers killed in Iraq.

The segment ended with Olbermann fact checking Rudy’s Sunni – Shia definition:

All right David, and I did one inspired by your fact checking.  The answer that Mr. Giuliani gave about the Shia and the Sunni—the Sunnis believed, after the death of the prophet Mohammed, that a new leader should be elected, and the Shia believed it should stay in Mohammed’s family, so Mayor Giuliani got that one exactly right. 

SHUSTER:  He did.

Well, at least they ended the coverage with at least one fact checked.

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