Fact-Checking the WaPo Fact-Checker

Last week, WaPo “factchecker”  Michelle Ye Hee Lee  examined Obama’s comments on the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, “with a focus on his statements from August, immediately after Brown’s death.”

The purpose was to factcheck former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s statement, “We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police.”

Lee awarded Giuliani with 4 Pinnochios because “it turns out that none of Obama’s statements speak any ill of police officers or condone violence among those reacting to the deaths,” as if the president of the United States would say something openly hostile about the police, and openly encourage violence against them. What was she expecting to find? Obama saying, “Yo! it’s open season on the pigs”, or something?

No. Obama is much subtler than that.

Obama specializes in making butt-covering statements that he can point to when the SHTF.  For instance: the  “no acts of terror…” line at the end of the Rose garden speech regarding Benghazi on 9/12/2012. Yeah, he and his minions focused like a laser beam on the YouTube video for three weeks, but when the YouTube video narrative fell apart, he was able to go back to that throw-away line and say that he was calling it a terrorist attack (not a spontaneous demonstration against an anti-Mohammed YouTube video) from the very beginning.

Hence, we get the responsible sounding (and freaking obvious) statements like the one he made on August 14 following the initial looting and violence in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, “there is never an excuse for violence against police, or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.”

And in the same breath: “There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests, or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.  And here, in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.  Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.”

Hello Ms Lee? Police should not “use excessive force”, “should not be bullying” etc? That sounds like anti-police rhetoric coming from the Commander-in-Chief to me. Shouldn’t he have just told people to calm the hell down, respect the law and wait for justice to take its course so the police don’t have to look like they’re using “excessive force” as they try to control unruly crowds that are rioting or on the verge of rioting?

Rather than encourage people to stay home and trust in the justice system,  he gave credence to the fact-challenged hysteria that followed the Michael Brown shooting.

When the Ferguson Grand Jury rendered their decision, he said that the protesters’ uninformed rage was “understandable.” It wasn’t. The facts of the case never supported their false anti-cop narrative. Our nation’s first black president had an opportunity to defend the police and the rule of law, and he didn’t. The best he could muster were obvious statements like “there’s never an excuse for violence.”

As Lee actually noted in her 4 Pinnochio indictment of Giuliani, Obama had some “pointed criticisms” about the police during a December interview on BET, but declared, ‘it’s a stretch to characterize that as “propaganda” for everyone to “hate the police’:

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers are doing a really tough job, and most of them are doing it well and are trying to do the right thing. (Of course he has to say that.)

Here comes the “pointed” part.

But a combination of bad training, in some cases; a combination in some cases of departments that really are not trying to root out biases, or tolerate sloppy police work; a combination in some cases of folks just not knowing any better, and in a lot of cases, subconscious fear of folks who look different — all of this contributes to a national problem that’s going to require a national solution.”

Ugh. Did the president really have to make those insulting and baseless assertions? When the nation’s first black president says that “in a lot of cases” police have a “subconscious fear of folks who look different,” does that encourage blacks to trust the police or discourage them from trusting the police?

How was that not anti-police  propaganda? 

propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Obama and Holder knew the facts early on. They knew about the surveillance video of the strong arm robbery (and suppressed it for as long as they could), they knew that eyewitnesses and forensic evidence refuted the hands up/don’t shoot narrative. Even so –  when he met with racial agitator Al Sharpton in the White House the day after the midterm elections, he said, “stay on course.”

That is what Giuliani had in mind when he said,  “He has had Al Sharpton to the White House 80-85 times. Often when he’s talking about police issues he has Al Sharpton sitting right next to him.. ..If you would like to have a poster boy for hating the police, it’s Al Sharpton. You make Al Sharpton a close advisor, you are going to turn the police in America against you.”

So Lee was back at it, today, with another factcheck – — on Giuliani’s assertion that Sharpton has been to the White House 80-85 times and is a “close advisor” to the president.

ORLY, we’ll see about that! harrumphed the WaPo Factchecker:

Giuliani said he took the high end of figures reported in Fox News, which ranged from 60 to 85 visits. The outlets reporting Sharpton’s visits used the White House visitors’ logs, so we looked at those figures. At first glance, there are 82 visits logged for Al Sharpton, Alfred Sharpton or Alfred C. Sharpton – all variations of Sharpton’s name.

After explaining that the the WH visitor database is “not a comprehensive list of all White House visits, and there are potentially thousands of visitors missing from it” Lee arrived at an exact number of 72 meetings anyway.

Of Sharpton’s 72 meetings:

  • One-on-one meetings: 5 (7 percent)
  • Meetings with staff members or senior advisers, with more than one guest: 20 (27 percent)
  • Events with more than 90 people: 16 (22 percent)
  • Miscellaneous meetings or events, ranging from 3 to 700 guests: 31 (43 percent)

Then she labored hard to debunk the idea that Sharpton (Obama’s Go-To Man on Race) is a “close advisor” to the president.

I suspect that Sharpton has become a political liability since the days White House officials were telling Politico “there’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down. He gets it, and he’s got credibility in the community that nobody else has got. There’s really no one else out there who does what he does.”

Now the lapdogs are striving hard to disassociate Sharpton from Obama.

Lee compared Sharpton’s visits to the White House to other Obama cronies who have visited the White House.

Giuliani connected Sharpton’s dozens of visits to the White House to what he described as Sharpton’s role as a “close adviser.” So we looked at the visitor log records of David Axelrod, an actual former White House senior adviser. Since Axelrod left the White House in January 2011, he had 28 official visits – and half of them were one-on-one meetings.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO who advises on labor policies, visited the White House 104 times since mid-2009, and 19 of the visits were one-on-one meetings. One-fifth of Trumka’s visits were meetings or events with 100 or more people. Matthew T. McGuire, former Citadel vice president and business liaison for the Commerce Department, visited the White House at least 250 times since 2011. Fifty of those visits were one-on-one meetings, and only 6 percent of his visits were meetings or events with 100+ people. Sharpton’s visits, in comparison, had far more ceremonial events and large-group gatherings.

***

We asked Sharpton if he had any meetings with the president after the deaths of Brown or Garner, or the assassination-style killings of two New York Police Department officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The only conversation he had with the president about Ferguson was at a public round table with other civil rights leaders, Sharpton said.

Lee gave Guiliani one Pinnochio for his assertions about Sharpton.

… to cite this number (80-85 WH visits) to show that Sharpton is a “close adviser” is an exaggeration — which earns Giuliani One Pinocchio.

Anyway, back to the Politico:

Eventually, Sharpton—often in consultation with Jarrett and Patrick Gaspard, the New York political operative who would go on to run the White House political office — carved out a unique role, defending Obama’s actions to black critics.

***

And the White House, as the crisis following Brown’s death seemed to flare out of control, worked extensively behind the scenes to maximize The Rev’s doing what he does, using him as both a source of information and a go-between.
Is it really an exaggeration to say that Al Sharpton is a close advisor to Obama on race relations? I don’t think so.
Linked by Maetenloch at Ace of Spades, thanks!

4 thoughts on “Fact-Checking the WaPo Fact-Checker

  1. Pingback: The WaPo’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee spent all week “fact checking” Rudy Giuliani’s Meet The Press appearance

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