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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of July 20-July 26

This week, according to readers, we picked on Democrats too much and didn’t pick on the media enough.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Too Nonpartisan

Your singling out Obama on his comments about the GOP and the jobs bill strikes me as picky, picky, picky ["Obama Wrong on GOP, Small Business Criticism," July 20]. Yes, he appears to be "spinning" the facts. However, isn’t it true that the GOP has been obstructionist on this and just about every other initiative that the Democrats have put forward to address issues faced by our nation? Is it true that the Democrats have shut out the GOP from participation in the formation and promotion of legislation? Or is it that the GOP are just not getting their way because they are in the minority? Seems to me that you are just bending over backwards to show that you are bipartisan while the lion’s share of the problems are due to the excessive partisanship of the GOP.

Mike Monahan
Yakima, Wash.

One of the weak links in all fact-checking sites is the need to maintain the appearance of non-partisanship by saying "both sides do it," and thus creating false equivalencies.

You do it again in your comparison of the ads in Nevada by Sharron Angle and Harry Reid ["Jobs Jabs," July 14]. Angle’s ad makes a comparison between the unemployment rate in Nevada and Reid’s position as Senate Majority Leader. Reid’s ad simply puts out past statements by Ms. Angle, as well as a statement blaming "Wall Street Greed" for Nevada’s economic troubles.

You make no effort to examine the "opinions" expressed, e.g. that Harry Reid’s Senate leadership or Wall Street greed are the reasons for economic downturn in Nevada. However, you could put forth some facts about the economic downturn, e.g. when the housing bubble started to burst, e.g. 2007, just as Harry Reid took over as majority leader in the Senate. Also you could find some generally accepted facts about the role of complex Wall Street financial instruments in the meltdown of the US financial industry and why this exacerbated the economic downturn.

So Sharron Angle’s attempt to make some link between Harry Reid’s position in the Senate doesn’t pass a basic scrutiny of the facts, whereas Harry Reid’s circulating Angle’s past statement are true. Even though Wall Street greed may not be the sole factor in the Great Recession, it is a widely accepted factor. Further Harry Reid has led the Senate majority to accepting a major reform of Wall Street financial practices, which one may feel does or does not do much to prevent further bad financial practices. Further he lead the majority to passing the economic stimulus program which is widely accepted to have saved over a million jobs. And Sharron Angle as you point out, makes no specifics as to how she would deal with the major economic problems facing the country.

"Jobs Jabs" is not up to your usual standards of fact-checking.

Meg McGowan
Honolulu, Hawaii


Just Nonpartisan Enough

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for what you and those who work with the website do. I am an independent, and while I don’t always agree with your take on things, I do respect the effort you are making, in truth I have come to enjoy reading your website a great deal.

The people in Washington all think they KNOW what it is the American people are so frustrated and angry about, but clearly they are clueless. People are frustrated about a lot of things, but the one thing that is really burning us all up is the constant stream of half truths and lies. Sure they tell the truth sometimes, but other than groups like FactCheck how on earth are we supposed to know what to believe?

The simple truth is we are fed up. We are tired of not being able to have faith in our elected representatives. We are tired of hearing their broken promises and fighting to see the obfuscated truths as we try to find out what is real. I don’t really think a new party or tossing all those currently in office will do the trick, but perhaps there is hope in that these political jesters are starting to realize FactCheck and groups like it are helping the American people see past it. Come election time we will start holding them accountable, their party line be damned!

Mike VandeVenter
Boise, Idaho


The Media’s Not Gonna Check Themselves

The posting on Shirley Sherrod ["Shirley Sherrod’s Contextual Nightmare," July 21] falls short of the usually thorough reporting that you do. Why is there no mention of the media’s part in this affair? If it had gone no further than Mr. Breitbart’s website this woman wouldn’t have been asked to resign. So what media outlet picked up on this and spread this intentional distortion? That’s the real story. As usual the media didn’t fact check this info before spreading it all over the place representing this as the truth. I hope to hear the real story at factcheck soon.

Janis Michaels
Oceanport, N.J.

FactCheck.org responds: For media analysis, you may be interested in Media Matters, which has a liberal slant, or the Media Research Center, which has a conservative one. We focus on political statements, not media criticism. 



Brian Likes This

Just wanted to send a quick note to let you know how much I enjoy FactCheck’s posts on Facebook. I’ve been following your site for years now and mainly utilize Facebook to stream information to me. Adding your page has been a very welcome edition. Kudos to your staff. Keep up the great work!

Brian Hoxie
Seattle, Wash.