Accuracy in Media

Yesterday President Obama held the first ever White House Twitter Town Hall, but as the Associated Press noted it was lacking in factual detail:

OBAMA: “My expectation is, is that over the next week to two weeks, that Congress, working with the White House, comes up with a deal that solves our deficit, solves our debt problems and makes sure that our full faith and credit is protected.”

THE FACTS: The deal he seeks with Congress would, if reached, let the U.S. avoid defaulting on its debt payments. In that sense it would guard America’s “full faith and credit,” as the president said. But it would leave the underlying deficit and debt problems far from solved. Even Obama’s proposal for $4 trillion in deficit cuts over 12 years would see the debt increase and leave the budget out of balance.

The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama’s plan would require $7 trillion in borrowing over a decade.

OBAMA: “I actually worked with Speaker (John) Boehner to pass a payroll tax cut in December that put an extra $1,000 in the pockets of almost every single American.”

THE FACTS: Obama, who said at another point that the $1,000 went to “every American,” misstated the reach and size of the payroll tax cut. By the White House’s own calculations, 159 million Americans are benefiting from the tax cut. The U.S. population is more than 311 million. The White House says the cut is worth $1,000 to a “typical family” — one making $50,000 a year. That’s a far cry from $1,000 into the pocket of every or nearly every American.

The cut, which runs through this year, reduces the payroll taxes that workers pay on their wages to 4.2 percent from 6.2 percent. So a family making $40,000, for example, saves $800.


OBAMA: “But if we had a goal where we’re just reducing our dependence on oil each year in a staggered set of steps, it would save consumers in their pocketbook; it would make our businesses more efficient and less subject to the whims of the spot oil market; it would make us less vulnerable to the kinds of disruptions that have occurred because of what happened in the Middle East this spring; and it would drastically cut down on our carbon resources.”

THE FACTS: Obama, his predecessors in office back to Richard Nixon and leaders in both parties have called for energy independence, an achievement that most energy experts consider pie in the sky. But Obama’s latest remarks were a reality check of sorts. He spoke of reducing that dependence in steps, not ending it anytime soon, and conceded oil will remain central to U.S. needs.

What’s more surprising than the fact that Obama’s answers lacked facts was that the AP of all people decided to do the fact checking.

This coming from a news organization that has raised the ire of conservatives for years with their biased reporting.

Thanks to the AP, the Town Hall, which was intended to show how tech savvy the President is and lure back the young voters who supported him in 2008 but largely abandoned the Democrats in 2010, only further exposed Obama’s basic lack of  candor and/ or understanding of economics and how his policies were hurting the economy.

Obama was fed softball questions and he still blew it.

For liberals the news was even worse since they can’t claim that the factual errors were due to a right-wing spin since the fact checkers came from their side of the aisle.

If the White House is planning any more of these events they should make sure they have something worth tweeting about first.

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