A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 30-Nov. 5


This week, readers sent us comments about jobs, apologies and keeping politicians honest.

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

 

Obama’s Jobs Numbers

First of all, I’m a big fan of your site and the efforts you are making in general. But I have to say I take exception to the article that was published today [“Obama’s Inflated Jobs Claim,” Oct. 23] regarding the ad Obama ran on his job creation claim.

The article begins: “In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.” With absolutely no added context, that statement is true. But surely the whole truth needs to be taken into account, which, in my opinion, the article fails to provide.

On day one of the president taking office, the economy was in a free fall, and thus it’s hardly a fair representation of his jobs record to include the job losses that occurred immediately after he took office. It’s akin to handing over the controls of a plane caught in an inverted death spiral and then blaming the new pilot for dropping another thousand feet while he rights the ship.

No doubt Obama picked the most ideal point in the timeline to use for day one of his job creation claim, and to a large degree deciding when to begin assigning credit or blame to a new incoming president is arbitrary. But it seems to me your article should have at least provided some context around the state of the economy at the time Obama took office and to acknowledge that it’s only fair for some date other than his inauguration date to be used as the basis for his jobs record, even if that date is ultimately subjective.

Barry Parshall
Portland, Ore.

 

More ‘Apology’ Notes

While you are correct that the president did not actually utter the words “we’re sorry,” the fact that he traveled around criticizing our country and our policies to foreign nations, and pledging not to continue previous policies is, in itself, a form of apology. [“False Claims in Final Debate,” Oct. 23.] He said we were wrong and he promised to change. I think in most people’s book that’s an apology .

When you were a child, and you did something wrong (or something that your parents thought was wrong), and as a child you said, “I was wrong and I won’t do that again,” that’s an apology for your actions! It’s an admission of guilt, and a promise to be “good.” Are you serious?

The President of the United States has no business telling foreign countries that the policies of previous administrations were wrong. It’s not his place to judge. And…BTW…who cares where he said it. When you’re the president, your words are carried far and wide.

If you want to say that the president never actually uttered those words, that’s one thing. But it was clearly an intent to apologize for our country and THAT should also be stated in your facts.

I’m a reader of yours but this is just a very bad call on your part.

Diane Mitchell
Scottsdale, Ariz.

 

Making ‘Freedom Count’

I wanted to write to thank you for your hard work at exposing the fallacies and supporting the truths this election season. I think it’s wonderful to see a group of people coming together to try to bring some honesty back to the political process, without partisan bias.

We have plenty of cases of Democrats calling out Republicans and Republicans calling out Democrats — what we need more of is people calling out lies regardless of political affiliation. (If I had my way, a member of your staff would be on stage alongside the moderator in all the presidential debates, with a little button you could hit to interrupt and call the candidates out when they tell a fib.)

FactCheck has been an invaluable tool to me this election season, and I very much wish more people would use it. I wish I’d known of your site before now.

Maybe if your site gets even more popular among the voting public, it will become something the candidates absolutely have to pay attention to, and they’ll stop lying. Maybe your work can help make honest men out of our politicians, so “politician” isn’t a dirty word to so many people anymore. We need to redeem our political process here in the USA, and I think you guys are at the front lines in that effort.

You only “make freedom count” by voting if you vote well-informed. Thanks for helping us do just that.

Robert Mohr
Pinellas Park, Fla.