Who Fact Checks The Fact Checkers?

http://news.msn.com/us/fact-check-did-obama-get-it-right

My question is:  who fact checks the Fact Checkers? The Associated Press has printed almost nothing but criticizing or out-and-out hit pieces on Obama for years.

The author, Calvin Woodward, cites a number of surveys and quotes people associated with think tanks.  First, if you read the article, many times the Woodward states some data is unknown.   This unknown data is crucial in determining if Obama was speaking factually or not.  So, if even Woodward admits he doesn’t know everything, how can he decide that what Obama said wasn’t true? He can’t.

One glaring example (out of many) of how a “fact checker” can omit information that might disprove or at least question his conclusion that Obama was not being factual is his contention that Obama is wrong about “upward mobility has stalled”.  Woodward responds that according to a study by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty, “The most recent evidence suggests that mobility hasn’t worsened.” And how did PBS News reporter Jeffrey Brown summarize it in his interview with Chetty? “The ability to move up the income ladder hasn’t worsened, but it also hasn’t improved.” I’m just a college graduate, but didn’t Brown just confirm what Obama said (before Obama said it) in this Jan. 24, 2014 broadcast, that upward mobility has stalled? Yes, he did.

And besides that, how was upward mobility back in the ‘70s—what percentage of children were able to move up the social mobility ladder? Hmmm, Woodward didn’t touch on that one—maybe more of his “unknowns” at work.  And note that Woodward restricts his argument to social mobility and NOT to both social AND financial mobility as we all damn well know is what Obama was talking about.  And Woodward claims standing still is not stalled, just like someone claiming that just because you’re no longer breathing and there’s the total absence of brain activity it doesn’t mean you’re dead.

And Chetty’s direct quote about social mobility? “Well, I think you shouldn’t interpret the lack of a decline in upward mobility as good news, in the sense that intergenerational mobility in the U.S., social mobility, is lower than virtually any other developed country for which we currently have data.”

Maybe the word “virtually” is up for interpretation because Woodward pulls out another study that directly conflicts with Chetty, who he had just used to prove his point: “In a study of 22 countries, economist Miles Corak of the University of Ottawa found that the United States ranked 15th in social mobility. Only Italy and Britain among wealthy countries ranked lower. By some measures, children in the United States are as likely to inherit their parents’ economic status as their height.”  Italy is no longer a wealthy country; you can ask them, the WTO, and the World Bank.  Great Britain has long been a class-based society, or has Woodward conveniently forgotten about the Queen, the Royal Family, and all those dukes, lords, and knights mucking about?

Again, who factchecks the “Factcheckers”? Well, there’s me, for one.

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One thought on “Who Fact Checks The Fact Checkers?

  1. Matt Stewart says:

    A great question, really. Extensive research is key for any caring viewer, and often the fact-checkers lead us astray!

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