Associated Press ‘Fact Checks’ Clinton’s Speech By Bringing Up Monica Lewinsky
Bill Clinton’s 48-minute speech at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night was, as FactCheck.org put it, “a fact-checker’s nightmare: lots of effort required to run down his many statistics and factual claims, producing little for us to write about.”
Clinton’s numbers checked out, according to most fact-checking outlets, including Politifact, which has been accused of unfair exaggeration by liberals before. Though he frequently departed from the script, the former president correctly cited the statistics on Obama’s job growth, decreasing health costs since 2010, and the stimulus tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans.
Yet one outlet disagreed with the general consensus: the Associated Press. The AP fact-check said Clinton “either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition.” It even “fact-checked” Clinton’s offhand reference to the Romney campaign’s dishonesty by bringing up Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal:
CLINTON: “Their campaign pollster said, ‘We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.’ Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself — I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.”
THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were “legally accurate” but also allowed that he “misled people, including even my wife.”
During its fact-check of this claim, the AP article had to ignore the Romney campaign’s dishonest attack on Obama’s welfare work requirements, which even Republican governors have questioned. It also fails to consider the campaign’s habit of deliberately editing Obama out of context, as they did in Romney’s first ad, which attributed the line, “If we talk about the economy, we’re going to lose,” to Obama when he was actually mimicking the McCain campaign in 2008. Also missing is the fact that the Republican National Convention last week was based on a distortion of Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote. ThinkProgress has compiled a comprehensive catalog of Romney’s lies on virtually every issue he’s had to discuss.
Rather than attempt to debunk Clinton’s attack on the campaign’s dishonesty, the AP could only imply that Clinton cannot criticize any false claims because of his past scandal. And, to make the attack seem more credible, it is presented as “THE FACTS.”Update
Mike Oreskes, AP’s U.S. news senior managing editor, is defending the Lewinsky reference: “The reference was not about that woman, Miss Lewinsky. It was about facts. Clinton challenged the Republicans for their attitude toward facts. We were simply pointing out that as president Clinton had his own challenges in this area.”