Patterico's Pontifications

9/16/2008

Beware the “Fact Checkers”

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 10:51 pm

Don’t believe everything you read. Not even if you read it on a site that most people assume is an authoritative fact-checking site.

In an article that purports to debunk a viral e-mail claiming 50 lies by Obama, Snopes.com asserts:

Senator Obama never stated categorically that he would not run on a national ticket in 2008. He at one time said that he had “no plans” to run for national office in 2008, the standard response virtually all politicians give to press inquiries when they have not yet formulated (or do not wish to reveal) their plans for upcoming elections.

Oh really?

Russert: When we talked back in November of ‘04 after your election, I said, “There’s been enormous speculation about your political future. Will you serve your six-year term as United States senator from Illinois?” Obama: “Absolutely.”

Obama: I will serve out my full six-year term. You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.

Russert: So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?

Obama: I will not.

Gee. That kinda sounds like Obama “stated categorically that he would not run on a national ticket in 2008.” To put it Snopes-style, regarding Snopes’s claim:

Claim: “Senator Obama never stated categorically that he would not run on a national ticket in 2008.”

Status: False.

When these “fact-checking” sites aren’t botching the facts, they can sometimes be found dressing up opinion as fact. Take this doozy by a site calling itself “PolitiFact” (“PolitiOpinion” is more like it):

Did Obama call Palin a pig? No, and saying so is Pants on Fire wrong.

(“FactCheck.org” did a similar piece.)

Oh really?

Here’s part of what I wrote to the Politi”Fact” author:

How is that “fact”? It’s your opinion.

I happen to think Obama *may* not have meant it as a reference to Palin. However, his audience certainly seemed to take it as a reference to Palin, judging from their reaction. How could they, when as a “factual” matter it wasn’t?

Other data point: I run a conservative blog, and I wouldn’t look to my conservative commenters for evidence on this — but I have more than one liberal commenter who said (paraphrasing) darn right that’s how he meant it, and he’s right! How could they be so wrong on the “facts”?

The “fact” of the matter is that the interpretation of Obama’s remark is open to, well, interpretation. It’s opinion. If you can’t tell the difference between opinion and fact, you ought not be writing for a site that purports to deal only in facts. Feel free to write op-eds, but please, don’t give us opinions dressed up as irrefutable facts.

My kingdom for a “fact checking” site that a) gets the facts right and b) doesn’t pretend opinions are facts. Does such a thing exist?

76 Responses to “Beware the “Fact Checkers””

  1. Apparently, Snopes is run by Lefties. IMHO, you can trust most of what they say, unless it involves politics.

    thebronze (90b755)

  2. Lipstick on a pig may have referred to Palin, but that doesn’t mean that he was referring to her as a pig. And, in fact, that interpretation doesn’t make any sense in context.

    Josh (86f13d)

  3. My kingdom for a “fact checking” site that a) gets the facts right and b) doesn’t pretend opinions are facts. Does such a thing exist?

    You’re hosting one.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  4. The answer to Patterico’s question is NO. Snopes.com is probably correct most of the time, but are they infallible? Obviously not. They’re probably as accurate as Wikipedia; not to imply that they derive their facts from the wiki, but a similar tendancy to look at one statement as definitive might be at work there.

    Icy Truth (d50358)

  5. Wiki gets things right quite a bit. It is only when changes from the unwashed are locked out that lies remain up long.

    Snopes allows no outside input, so their lies mistakes stay up forever.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  6. Yep. Snopes is extremely dishonest when it comes to political issues. They will outright lie to you in order to cover for democrats (this post shows that, but it’s not isolated).

    Sadly, snopes has a reputation for being factual on message boards. People will consider an argument closed once a snopes link appears. They are destroying their reputation. Or should be. I don’t think word is getting around like it should that snopes is a peddler of obvious lies.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  7. Josh, I can easily see how Obama was referring to Palin as a pig, even if you have to use your imagination to get there.

    Patterico’s point is that the interpretation is possible, and it’s simply not a ‘fact’ that this interpretation is false.

    Obama made jokes about Hillary’s period, and flipped her off, if you interpret his remarks a certain way. He seems to have a record of slyly being offensive in order to play to the crowd.

    Frankly, if you watch his facial expressions, I don’t see how you can’t interpret his intention as anything other than mischievous. I certainly don’t think his slight at Palin is anything to get upset about.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  8. I’m reminded of a story….
    My mom’s priest was pulled over for speeding, while he was trying to make to Mass on time.

    He told the cop that the next time his folks were in town, bring them to the Church and he’d marry them….

    Now, he didn’t *call* the cop a bastard (in the literal sense)……

    Foxfier (15ac79)

  9. Juan-
    I think Obama is a spoiled, disgusting, rude, irreverent brat.

    In short, a perfect example of his generation.

    Foxfier (15ac79)

  10. The problem with the sites claiming McCain’s sex-ed ad is a lie are similarly flawed.

    It’s like they can write an entire anti-McCain piece without actually reading the the statute at issue.

    wt (7ea3e6)

  11. OT: On the Jimmy Kimmel show, Brad Garrett played the “If Obama doesn’t win, I’m leaving the country,” card. I like Brad Garrett, but once you say those words — that’s all she wrote.

    Mr. Garrett, I will help you to pack your stuff — and I’m not kidding.

    Icy Truth (d50358)

  12.      Juan #7: Juan, Josh in #2 got it exactly right. I, like probably most of us, saw the video of Obama using the lipstick/pig phrase. He CLEARLY wanted the crowd to know he was alluding to Palin’s lipstick/pit bull comment. However, he was in NO WAY saying that Palin is a pig.
         Hey, I’ve got enough trouble refuting the BS my Obama-maniac friends are constantly handing out. Let’s not have BS flowing the other way.

    Ira (28a423)

  13. Icy, it is the height of unpatriotic expression, and extremely dismissive of democracy in general, to say you’ll abandon your homeland if your fellow citizens elect someone you don’t agree with, isn’t it?

    Just amazing to me that people don’t have faith in this country. Even after Jimmy Carter, we had enough power to defeat the USSR. I’m sure OBama would be problematic, but we’ll be ok. If it takes problems for America to elect a better leader, and for more people to get involved, then that’s history.

    I did hear one of the Baldwin actors say he’d flee the USA if Mccain isn’t elected. A lot more rare to hear on the right, but jeez, it’s even more annoying. Mccain fought for our country while it was ruled by JFK, LBJ, and Carter. It’s inherent in patriotism that you stick around. Sadly, there really are people who would defeend a dictatoship in this country, if they got their party more power.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  14. Ira, perhaps we just aren’t on the same page.

    HE was alluding to Palin, who has been slimed mercilessly, and he’s dumb enough to say ‘it’s still a pig!” while talking about her? Because he was being metaphorical and meant something else? Ok.

    I can see that, actually. In fact, it’s the kind of insensitive slip I’d make. But I don’t get the argument that it’s utterly irrational to think Obama meant to call Palin a pig. It’s totally possible he didn’t mean it that way, but …. You know what, let’s just look at the sentence:

    “You Can Put Lipstick On A Pig, It’s Still A Pig.”

    You assert he was clearly talking about Palin before the comma. I agree that this is clear: it was the talking point for two days before this comment, and all Obama campaign surrogates were making lipstick comments about Palin.

    So let’s modify the sentence according to our agreement.

    [I am referring to Sarah Palin and a policy, X], [X] is still a pig.

    Given that, what could we possibly interpret the rest of the sentence to mean? You think Obama meant some policy point was a pig, of course, and that’s extremely plausible. But anyone fair has to admit that it’s easy to hear this ‘it’ as referring to the person everyone knows is lipsticked.

    At the very very very best, Obama was extremely insensitive and clumsy. Personally, I think it was kinda funny and don’t take offense to this light stuff. Obama gets stage-fright and didn’t process his words correctly.

    But please, don’t imply that I’m full of BS for saying it’s possible Obama called Palin a pig, because he did call her a pig, he did flip Hillary off, and he is a bit of a jerk to do so. Whether he meant to do so is up to debate. He’s clever like that.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  15. Juan –

    Icy, it is the height of unpatriotic expression, and extremely dismissive of democracy in general, to say you’ll abandon your homeland if your fellow citizens elect someone you don’t agree with, isn’t it?
    — It’s like Dennis Prager says: we think they are wrong; they think we are evil. When it comes to somebody like Sean Penn, I’ll do more than just help him pack; I’ll pilot the damn boat all the way to Venezuela! Susan Sarandon is a different case, though. Tim Robbins can leave unchecked, but Susan will have to be strip-searched . . . and then spanked a little . . . and then the oral–

    I did hear one of the Baldwin actors say he’d flee the USA if Mccain isn’t elected. A lot more rare to hear on the right, but jeez, it’s even more annoying.
    — Yeah, that was Stephen Baldwin, who saved himself from a drug-and-debauchery-fueled premature death by being Born Again, but whose progress along the learning and wisdom curves still has a ways to go.

    Icy Truth (894e4f)

  16. #11 – I pay for his one-way ticket to any of the following countries: Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan or Myanmar.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  17. Patterico, I think you know that I generally admire the work you do. But you’re beginning to veer into dangerous territory by seeing bias everywhere. I would think that the erosion of the line separating fact and fiction, truth and lies — and mistakes — would be a special concern to a conservative, not to mention to a prosecutor.

    In the case of Snopes: People may think of it as an authoritative fact-checking site, but that doesn’t mean it’s infallible. In fact, according to its FAQs, most everything is generated by just two people. I’ll give you this: Nowhere do you *say* that the mistake is ideologically driven. Still, I think it’s natural to infer that you believe it is (not least because of the title of your post, darkly warning readers to “beware”) — and as it happens, some of your commenters do seem to draw exactly that inference. In any case, why don’t you just send Snopes a link to the MTP transcript? They themselves say they welcome corrections.

    In the case of PolitiFact: Your post leaves the impression that the site flatly declares the Palin-as-pig meme “Pants on Fire wrong” without elaboration. In fact, as you well know, the site lays out in detail the origin of the meme, giving readers plenty of information — plenty of FACTS, that is — to draw their own conclusions. I’d estimate the piece is 90% fact, 10% analysis, and the part that’s analysis is clearly such.

    Furthermore, it simply is NOT a matter of opinion whether Obama “called” Palin a pig. He did not. A person could make the argument that he *implied* it. But Jane Swift of the McCain campaign truth squad WAS simply Pants-on-Fire wrong when she referred to Obama as “calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a ‘pig.’”

    I’m not saying you’re always wrong on this blog when you see bias. (I’m not saying you’re right, either!) But I see your constant drip-drip of knee-jerk accusations as a greater risk than such perceived bias: You’re helping to muddy the line between fact and fiction by creating an environment of a presumption of guilt. It feeds a certain caustic cynicism that I think is badly corroding the elements that hold us — all Americans, regardless of political inclination — together as compatriots.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  18. Not Rhet: I think (heh) Patterico’s main purpose was to point out that PolitiFact stated that it was a FACT that Obama wasn’t calling Palin a pig.

    There is no way to prove/disprove if he was (not many people actually think he was) so it cannot be claimed as a fact; only an opinion (shared by lots).

    Lord Nazh (899dce)

  19. I’ll give you this: Nowhere do you *say* that the mistake is ideologically driven. Still, I think it’s natural to infer that you believe it is (not least because of the title of your post, darkly warning readers to “beware”) — and as it happens, some of your commenters do seem to draw exactly that inference.

    I came to that conclusion a couple years before Patterico mentioned it.

    But what do I know, I’m just another Patterico automaton that can’t think for myself…

    thebronze (90b755)

  20. I’d like to inform everyone that Not Rhetorical actually works for PolitiFact, and as an employee is required to maintain the company line.

    Icy Truth (894e4f)

  21. OT: On the Jimmy Kimmel show, Brad Garrett played the “If Obama doesn’t win, I’m leaving the country,” card. I like Brad Garrett, but once you say those words — that’s all she wrote.

    Did you see that video of him going mental on that fox and friends webshow thing the other day? The guy needs to seek professional help.

    I did hear one of the Baldwin actors say he’d flee the USA if Mccain isn’t elected. A lot more rare to hear on the right, but jeez, it’s even more annoying

    Stephen Baldwin wasn’t being serious when he said that, he was poking fun at his brother Alec who said the same thing about Bush and yet miraculously failed to go anywhere.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  22. Taltos, that makes so much more sense I’m a bit embarrassed by it.

    Not Rhet: Snopes is liberally biased. You can use this post as evidence, and you can use many of the other errors (cited here nad all over the internet) as evidence. I’ve never heard of politifact, and they probably aren’t taken too seriously, but there is no way they are right on this issue. A lot of folks are covering for Obama because of politcal bias. To say otherwise is to lie. Is politifact among that group? I don’t know, but they are wrong on this issue.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  23. Thank you for that information. I had previously trusted Snopes implicitly. Any site can err, of course, but the onus is now on Snopes to acknowledge its error or lose credibility.

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

  24. I don’t think a site like that will ever come along. Once politics is entered the temptation to show bias becomes irresistable I suppose.
    These sites are handy in helping to find a general direction toward verifiable information. Follow up the snopes result with a limited search on the .edu and .gov domains and you can start to get a sense of how valid it really is.

    Snopes is great for non-political stuff and IT people use it often as an easy way to show users that some email the user is all excited about is a scam or rumor.

    voiceofreason2 (0ac0d6)

  25. Snopes is worthless as a source for anything that has a potential political charge to it. Fact-check is better, but they’re far from infallible.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  26. Well, while it’s too late to keep Mr Obama from breaking his promise not to run for president this year, I think we can, if we all try real hard, help him to keep his promise to serve out his full six-year term in the United States Senate! :)

    The older Dana (3e4784)

  27. Here’s some facts to check, how Barack Obama violated the Logan Act in negotiating with Iraqis officials for Obama’s own political gain:

    In a long interview with the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, Zebari says: “Obama asked me why, in view of the closeness of a change of administration, we were hurrying the signing of this special agreement, and why we did not wait until the coming of the new administation next year and agree on some issues and matters.”

    Again, note that Zebari mentions a single set of agreements, encompassing both SFA and SOFA.

    Zebari continues: “I told Obama that, as an Iraqi, I believe that even if there is a Democratic administration in the White House it had better continue the present policy instead of wasting a lot of time thinking what to do.”

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09172008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/obama_objects_129453.htm?&page=4

    Despite recognizing security gains in Iraq, Sen. Obama continues to declare the surge a strategic failure because it hasn’t created necessary political progress — an assertion that has been patently false for some time now. Nonetheless, Senator Obama won’t adjust his stance before the election because, as Taheri so aptly points out, “to be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire.”

    Consider the circumstances of Sen. Obama’s trip to Iraq: Not only did he make his first trip to Iraq in over two years only after much prodding, he also laid out his Iraq plan before his visit. Only someone willing to solidify their plan before meeting with subject-matter experts would have the audacity to then pester and pressure those experts to pursue policies advantageous only to him.

    Surely Sen. Obama doesn’t want to lose in Iraq? No, he just believes winning or losing there doesn’t matter. Surely he doesn’t really believe our presence in Iraq to be “illegal”? No, he just doesn’t understand existing strategic agreements. And, as explained by Taheri, surely he doesn’t think we can withdrawal in 16 months? No he doesn’t, he just remains politically wedded to a discredited policy.

    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDBjZjQ5YjM3Y2M0YmY1OTQ0ZjAzNTA1ZmQ2ZTc0MzU=

    Joe (8102a5)

  28. Susan Sarandon is a different case, though.

    You are God Damn Sick in the head.

    *shudders as he suppresses the urge to wretch*

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  29. Trying to veer away from the discussion of the economy on the part of Republicans is defensiveness to the max. We need to focus, right or left, on what ails this nation. You might think things are hunky-dory like Mitt Romney and if you’re the one of the top one percenters, life is good, But most Americans have never felt such insecurity since the Great Depression. For example, the average length of employment has never been lower (from approx.13 years per job to less than approx.8 years per job…a fact I have to remember from a radio show about economics…but it makes sense), income inequality is at levels prior to 1930 or similar to a ‘third world’ nation, and you all know the polls show it…80 percent saying the nation’s going in the wrong direction. Both Obama and McCain have weak on connecting to the average American about the economy and I am disappointed that blaming a mostly conservative Media..(hey, I am watching Joe in the Morning….who is more conservative than Joe Scarbourgh..(sic).?) doesn’t cut it, or worrying about whether pretty Sarah is picked on too much is hardly addressing the pocket book issues concerning America..) Hell, even Mad Money Krammer is talking about Chris Cox’s (R) laissie faire idology corrupting the markets and allowing this to happen. Liberal domination of the media is a myth.

    datadave (b44513)

  30. and I am disappointed that blaming a mostly conservative Media.. […] Hell, even Mad Money Krammer is talking about Chris Cox’s (R) laissie faire idology corrupting the markets and allowing this to happen.

    Name three conservatives on Major cable channels (excluding Fox). Political commentators only count for half.

    Go for it.

    Seriously, you think major media is mostly conservative? Really?

    This is the difference, you see. Conservative Shows KNOW they are conservative, and admit it. Liberal media refuses to admit such a thing, however, and continues to claim to be neutral.

    My kingdom for intellectual honesty…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  31. For example, the average length of employment has never been lower (from approx.13 years per job to less than approx.8 years per job…

    Care to hazard a guess as to why?

    income inequality is at levels prior to 1930 or similar to a ‘third world’ nation, and you all know the polls show it

    We are a 3rd world country, and we know it, because the polls say so. Good Allah. Why is stoopid like that not painful?

    I am disappointed that blaming a mostly conservative Media..(hey, I am watching Joe in the Morning….who is more conservative than Joe Scarbourgh..(sic).?)

    Your rectum must be big enough to drive a truck through, given the size of the crap you routinely pull out of it.

    Scott – You are hoping against hope to get a rational response from that Commie pinko datelessdave.

    JD (41e64f)

  32. Scott – You are hoping against hope to get a rational response from that Commie pinko datelessdave.

    I’m a Reagan-ite… I am optimistic to a fault…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  33. It is logically always easier to prove a positive than a negative.

    That said, when asserting a negative to be true, I think it is preferable to acknowledge how future information may show you to be wrong. I’ve never felt misled by Snopes before, but I’ve never used it for claims in the political arena.

    I have noted often that various sites that claim objectivity over time show strong evidence of a liberal bias, often by leaving out some of the more substantial problems. One such site back in 2004 purported to show how both sides used “spin”, and they did give examples of each, but then they went on to say that the use of spin by the Bush administration was in a league of its own and unequaled by anything the Dems did.

    When one grows up being taught to try not to fight and to “fight fair” when you have to, the idea that nothing can be taken at face value unless verified is hard to keep in mind. Like a gambit in chess or a feint in fencing, sometimes conceding a point in political debate is simply a tactic in ultimately getting ahead.

    As said above, I do look to this site for the best grasp on the reality of something. There have been times, for example, when the majority of the conservative visitors have been frustrated with Patterico not seeing something “their way”.

    On another thread WLS was slammed. In my opinion WLS would be an asset as an advisor to anyone, including the POTUS- although he would probably not be able to handle 1 week of trying to talk sense to most of the prominent Dems, but that’s not his fault.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  34. He CLEARLY wanted the crowd to know he was alluding to Palin’s lipstick/pit bull comment. However, he was in NO WAY saying that Palin is a pig.

    That’s just plain silly. From within minutes of announcement of Palin’s selection the Obama camp went into high gear with nasty pronouncements. The machine has denigrated her as white trash, snowbilly, stupid, moron, liar, not-a-real-woman and lots of things I cannot repeat here. In the light of all of that, when the O! camp has no problem going after McCain on ageism why should any reasonable person believe, even if The One didn’t intentionally mean it at first and just realized that was how his audience was taking it, that Palin was NOT being called a “pig”? Certainly some of the lesser sexist comments she was taken.

    The man has no character, but that matches the rest of the empty suit.

    Anybody else notice that he has had NOT ONE person from his past, no college chums, no friends from that misty time before he arrived in Chicago to become just like Jesus, to vouch for him? To say “hey, I knew this guy when …”?

    Darleen (187edc)

  35. I see the talking telephone pole is trying to threadjack. I’ll just toss this in:

    Three words on the mortgage meltdown

    “Community Redevelopment Act”

    Darleen (187edc)

  36. “I would think that the erosion of the line separating fact and fiction, truth and lies — and mistakes — would be a special concern to a conservative, not to mention to a prosecutor.”

    It is. That’s why I wrote a post about it.

    As for creating a presumption of guilt, well, I think the point is just to erase a presumption of accuracy/fairness on the part of any writing — whether it be Snopes, Politifact, the LAT, or even here. All are capable of mistakes.

    I think the key, in addition to trying not to make them in the first place, is to acknowledge error when it’s pointed out. Accordingly, I have sent Snopes the correction and will commence holding my breath until I see it appear.

    “I see your constant drip-drip of knee-jerk accusations as a greater risk than such perceived bias: You’re helping to muddy the line between fact and fiction by creating an environment of a presumption of guilt.”

    “Knee-jerk” accusations, huh? Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the general ethic of this site is to back up what I say with facts. If I fail to support my statements with evidence, or if I get the evidence wrong, I welcome readers to show me where, and I’ll correct it.

    But if I succeed in supporting my statements, then I believe I am helping to clarify the line between fact and fiction — and, in fact, I perceive it as Orwelllian to claim otherwise. For example, how does this post muddy the line between fact and fiction? I correct a flat misstatement by one site, and expose another site portraying opinion as fact.

    Did Obama call Palin a pig? It’s certainly arguable. I once had a conversation with someone who claimed that it was within the bounds of acceptable rhetoric for Tim Rutten to claim that Dick Cheney admitted he approves of torture, when in fact Cheney said the opposite. Certainly, if that’s in bounds, so was McCain’s ad.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  37. MD – Were you referring to spinsanity?

    JD (41e64f)

  38. Patterico

    The Left claims that perception outweighs intention.

    MY perception is that the line was calling Palin a pig. I am a woman. I was offended.

    Therefore, my gender and perception trumps O!’s claim to the contrary — where’s my apology?

    😉

    Darleen (187edc)

  39. Perhaps

    Even if so, I don’t have the time or inclination to document my claim for those who might protest.

    If you disagree or wish to add documentation, be my guest.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  40. Sorry for any confusion, post #39 was a reply to JD at #37.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  41. For example, the average length of employment has never been lower (from approx.13 years per job to less than approx.8 years per job

    Odd… my personal average length of employment is probably around three years, yet I don’t feel that’s a particularly bad figure. The job market’s changed. People don’t feel any particular need to stick with a single employer their entire lives, and no one holds any but the most extreme “job hopping” against applicants. Personally, I’m glad I have the freedom and ability to change employers.

    Of course, dave, we’ve had this “discussion” before, over at PW. You didn’t understand it then, and you still don’t understand it. Or you’re purposefully refusing to understand it.

    80 percent saying the nation’s going in the wrong direction

    How many of those think it’s going too far to the left? Or doesn’t your “source” break the numbers down that finely?

    Rob Crawford (6c262f)

  42. The Left claims that perception outweighs intention.

    Bingo.

    JD (41e64f)

  43. MD – I was just curious. I used to really enjoy spinsanity.

    JD (41e64f)

  44. I’ll 2nd what Rob Crawford said…

    The days of 45 years with a company, a pension, and a gold watch have been over for more than 20 years.

    You’ve got to make as much as you can as fast as you can to save for your kid’s education and your own retirement. Company loyalty be damned. You need to stay current, nimble, and always be looking for new and better opportunities. However, it does get harder with age and children.

    william (fe3a60)

  45. Actually, NPR (Terri gross’s show) did a nice audio report about it yesterday where they compared the laughter from the crowd when Obama said it to the laughter when McCain said it (discernible and loud) and the laughter when Dick Cheney said it in 2004 (audible and discernible).

    A fair listener, thus eliminating everyone on this page most likely, would conclude there’s something about that phrase that makes people laugh. Link

    Now, I can already see the Darleens of the world (with their Sarah Palin autographed covers of Tiger Beat) objecting to the NPR sourcing of the story, because truth is all so relative and all. All I can say is the audio is there. Give it a listen and decide for yourself.

    PS By the way, how would Obama benefit from calling Palin a “pig”? How do you even add Palin into a comment about McCain’s economic ideas? Finally, Darleen, as the head of the grievance committee and chief arbiter of the Right’s new Legion Political Correctness and Petty Grievances, am I allowed to say “lipstick” or “pit,” or, even, “bull” prior to November (as an Obama supporter)? Or, is using any word she ever said proof of my “sexism”?

    Can I even wear my short that says “Alaska”?

    P.P.S. Political Correctness always confused me. Of all the idea the Far Left has had (economic “justice”, single payer health care reform, ending wars) who would have ever thought the Right would steal political correctness?

    timb (a83d56)

  46. Folks, meet timmah. Or timmyb. Or timb. Or whatever he chooses to call himself. He is as mendoucheous as the rest of them, just give him time. Fortunately, my Better Half will cancel out his vote. Yippee !

    Racists.

    JD (41e64f)

  47. It is a Professor Caric sycophant, for those of you familiar with that douchenozzle.

    JD (41e64f)

  48. who would have ever thought the Right would steal political correctness?

    No no… You mistake us, sir…

    It’s called “civility”. Political Correctness is something quite different…

    Scott Jacobs (a1c284)

  49. Heh! Is “you can take the community organizer out of the ghetto but you cannot take the ghetto out of the community organizer” politically incorrect?

    nk (189a81)

  50. Mr: Susan Sarandon is a different case, though.

    Scott Jacobs: You are God Damn Sick in the head.

    — Thanks. I resemble that remark. Sorry, to me she’s a LILF (Lefty I’d Like to ____).

    Icy Truth (7e1f91)

  51. Oh yes, I remember the immortal “Timmah!” from his posts over there, and also the excreable Caric – duly noted, and forewarned.

    Dmac (e639cc)

  52. Dmac – Just doing my part to make sure that people know who they are dealing with.

    Excreable Caric – Good one, though I have dropped deuces smarter than timmah or caric.

    JD (41e64f)

  53. …acknowledge error when it’s pointed out.

    This makes or breaks a publication to many readers(see LAT). Unfortunately, the powers that be at these sites/papers, etc., are so immersed in their own self-promoting perception, that they are unable to connect the dots. Its an extension of the perception myth…what we perceive is reality is the reality we will feed our readers who are clueless sponges and will easily absorb this reality, blah, blah, blah.

    Dana (b4a26c)

  54. Snopes is a good site for debunking Urban Legends, but not so good at debunking Political Legends, as they tend to wear their leftist colored glasses when reviewing such things. Consequently, Snopes’ conclusions about things political is almost entirely predictable. As I recall, they “debunked” a claim about something Al Gore said. The quotation that they used from Gore pretty showed the opposite of their “false” conclusion.

    physics geek (6669a4)

  55. You could say that Obama didn’t mean Palin when he made the comment about lipstick on a pig, and in the context of the sentence about things not changing, that would be right. However, when you couple lipstick on a pig and old fish it is obvious that he was aiming at Palin and McCain. The lipstick on a pig by itself would be sufficient to make his point; however, the old fish part of the quote is either overkill or Obama characterizing McCain. He can’t have it both ways. He either means what he says or he doesn’t.

    J. M. Cornwell (341346)

  56. Sean Hannity may be kind of dumb (he certainly plays the part on TV alongside even Dumberer Colmes) but I think he’s right about the collapse of the media in 2008. The process may have started with CBS’s response to Rathergate and continued as the disgraced Rather went around the country picking up awards afterwards but now we can’t even trust Factcheck.org and Snopes. This all could have been avoided by simply including a SINGLE conservative (or libertarian) in every MSM organ. Just one. But the MSM isn’t an American outfit but a Democratic one.

    Bel Aire (2fd7f7)

  57. From within minutes of announcement of Palin’s selection the Obama camp went into high gear with nasty pronouncements. The machine has denigrated her as white trash, snowbilly, stupid, moron, liar, not-a-real-woman and lots of things I cannot repeat here.

    Link or it didn’t happen. Make sure it’s from the Obama camp, not some random person on some blog, or prove yourself a liar.

    As for Brad Garrett’s comment, you’ve got your own version, Stephen Baldwin. Looks like dumbass pronouncements run in that family.

    Josh (86f13d)

  58. However, when you couple lipstick on a pig and old fish it is obvious that he was aiming at Palin and McCain. The lipstick on a pig by itself would be sufficient to make his point; however, the old fish part of the quote is either overkill or Obama characterizing McCain.

    The Bush administration and its policies are the pig in this analogy. McCain/Palin pretending to be reformers who are going to change Washington is the lipstick. This would be quite obvious to most of you if we weren’t 7 weeks from an election.

    Josh (86f13d)

  59. Josh…
    Well, if that is what Sen. Obama wished to say…
    Why didn’t he just say it?
    He could just as easily used another analogy; such as:
    This is just putting a new ribbon on the same old package…etc.

    But, NO! He had to conjoin the thoughts of Sarah Palin, and a Pig.
    He knew what he was doing, and it is despicable!

    Another Drew (8a6fd1)

  60. Josh –
    As has been pointed out, Stephen Baldwin was parodying his fellow actors who deliver that line. Also, if you think it was wrong for him to say, you also think it was wrong for Brad Garrett to say, so you can take your moral equivalence and SIUYFA.

    Icy Truth (7e1f91)

  61. So, JD, I’ll go ahead and assume you were too negligent to click on the link, but thought a personal attack was the better road? Wow! How atypical.

    Hey, by the way, did you know civility means “never mention the word lipstick”? I didn’t and neither did dictionary.com, but Scott Jacobs set me straight. Thanks, Scott. I assume your new volume Political Correctness: The Right Wing butchers the English Language is on Amazon?

    timb (a83d56)

  62. I used to subscribe to Snopes’ emails and checked their site regularly to debunk to all my co-workers their unending email spam asininities. It didn’t take me long to clue in to Snopes’ lefty sensibilities, probably somewhere between 2002 and 2004. They lost it the same time Sullivan did though more subtly. I never read or check Snopes anymore.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  63. Patterico, maybe I left the wrong impression. I’m only arguing for de-escalation, not silence — and I’m sorry for using the phrase “knee-jerk”; that was itself inflammatory.

    In my opinion, people no longer believe the other side is acting in good faith. I’d like to see more of a presumption that everyone is acting in good faith — Snopes, for example. Maybe they *are* biased, and maybe that bias is coming out in their declarations. But that doesn’t mean they’re being deliberately misleading.

    And for people who took my earlier comment as suggesting that you take your marching orders from Patterico: I meant nothing of the sort. The fact that you took it that way is an example of the point I’m trying to get at: You’re assuming that, I think, partly because you assume I’m playing gotcha. I’M NOT. I’m trying to make a point about the TONE of the debate. I pointed to other commenters’ reactions because I was trying to support my own conclusion that Patterico is assuming Snopes wasn’t acting in good faith.

    My central point is about tone, not opinion. It’s hard to get at that because everyone assumes everyone else is playing gotcha. And that’s dangerous, don’t you think? Seriously: Do you agree? I’m not asking that rhetorically; I really want to know what you think.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  64. One more thing, and for this I have to bust out my big guns, the caps: AS A POINT OF FACT, IT IS NOT ARGUABLE THAT OBAMA CALLED PALIN A “PIG.” Don’t you think it’s possible that the meme has gained enough traction that there are people out there who actually believe he said, or might have said, “Palin is a pig”? HE DIDN’T. He might have meant to *imply* she is a pig. He might have meant to *allude* to her as a member of the porcine species. But in a literal sense, HE DID NOT CALL HER A PIG. I guess we’re debating the definition of “call.” But I think PolitiFact was partly trying to debunk any impression that a half-tuned-in member of the public might have gotten that he actually, literally called her a pig.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  65. I’d rescind #64 if I could. My significant other points out, rightly, that I sound pretty hysterical, which tends to, erm, undercut my argument for sanity. (Insert sheepish expression.)

    I was getting frustrated with my inability to communicate the very narrow, inarguable point I was trying to make. My attempt at firmness and clarity spiraled into shrillness.

    So: This is me de-escalating. Sigh.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  66. You don’t sound hysterical at all. But you do sound like you’re trying to justify.

    I prefer to listen to what people say and what their actions are. I don’t need to need to assume people are acting in bad faith, all I have to do is listen to what they say and see what they do. The TONE of the debate is what it is.

    I don’t need to give my enemies “the benefit of the doubt” before they stab me in the eye. You may, but you’ll just end up dead.

    thebronze (90b755)

  67. My significant other points out, rightly, that I sound pretty hysterical, which tends to, erm, undercut my argument for sanity.
    — If you want your argument for sanity to go somewhere, STOP INSISTING THAT YOUR PERSONAL OPINION IS ACTUALLY AN INDISPUTABLE FACT! AH! AHH!!! AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    [Kinison’s spirit lives on]

    Icy Truth (db6433)

  68. Icy Truth, I don’t think you’re paying attention to what I’m saying. I’m defining “call” (as in “calling” someone a “pig”) as Obama saying “Palin is a pig.” And in that narrow sense, it is not arguable: He did not call her a pig.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  69. thebronze, I wouldn’t say I’m trying to “justify.” I would say I’m trying to persuade. But — and I don’t mean this judgmentally, just factually — I guess blogs aren’t really the forum for trying to persuade; they’re more about arguing and point-scoring. I just haven’t found a good forum for having true *discussions* yet. No one is talking *to* each other anymore. That’s what scares me.

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  70. So you’re parsing the word “is”? I saw that movie 10 years ago — and it wasn’t very good back then.

    Icy Truth (ef009a)

  71. Factcheck. Obama did not call Palin a pig.

    Ask McCain yourself.

    love2008 (1b037c)

  72. I imagine Andrew Sullivan agrees that “the point is just to erase a presumption of accuracy/fairness on the part of any writing.”

    Not Rhetorical (2509d9)

  73. Fact-check is better [than Snopes], but they’re far from infallible.

    Did I say “is?” I meant “was.”

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  74. That’s the bottom line, Xrlq.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  75. I happen to think Obama *may* not have meant it as a reference to Palin. However, his audience certainly seemed to take it as a reference to Palin, judging from their reaction.

    –Patterico

    Mindread much? There is no evidence to support your assertion to what you think the audience was thinking.

    Paulo Mis (2fea0c)

  76. Come to the party late a lot, don’t you?

    Try to keep up; or,
    if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch.

    Another Drew (7866bb)


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