Accuracy in Media

Last Thursday during his jobs-bill speech President Obama mentioned a Boston area teacher who has been laid off  three times in the last four years as an example of someone who could benefit from the passage of his American Jobs Act.

Here’s what the President said, courtesy of CBS Boston:

“I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz. He’s an English teacher in Boston who came to the White House a few weeks ago. He’s got two decades of teaching experience. He’s got a Master’s Degree. He’s got an outstanding track record of helping his students make huge gains in reading and writing,” the President said.

“In the last few years, he’s received three pink slips because of budget cuts. Why wouldn’t we want to pass a bill that puts somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids?”

It sounds good, but there was one tiny problem with what Obama said. Baroz is currently teaching. In other words, he isn’t unemployed as the President said.

When asked about this on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded that the President was only talking about people like Baroz and not necessarily Baroz specifically, and that it should be taken in the “spirit” of what he meant.

Reporter: Okay, but — you just mentioned teachers being laid off. Yesterday, the President at the news conference said, “I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz recently, from Massachusetts.” He got three pink slips. And he said that you need to pass the jobs bill — “put somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids.” The Boston Herald has a story this morning saying the President never met this gentleman. He was at the White House, but they never met and the gentleman has a job.

Carney: The President — as you know, he was in a group of people that were — I think he was this close to the President as you are to me. And the President knows his story. As I would — I would simply refer you to the Boston Herald story where Mr. Baroz said, “People who want to fuss over the word choice are missing the point. It’s about our investing in education and in communities. Yes, I did lose my position three times within four years in the Boston public schools. To me, the question he posed to the people was a rhetorical question. The emphasis was on ‘like Robert.’ It’s people who are like me, highly qualified, and are not working. That’s the spirit of it.”

I mean, it’s just indisputable — as we found out again this morning — that all around the country, teachers are being laid off. The President has a plan to solve, okay, or to address that problem.

Reporter: So why not use an example of somebody who does not have a job? The man has a job right now.

Carney: The man has been laid off three times in four years. It is indicative of a problem. And, in fact, the fact that he got — as I think is reported in the Herald story, the fact that he got — was hired again after the fact happened often to be the result of the kinds of assistance provided by this administration through the Recovery Act to give assistance to states to ensure that teachers were hired back or weren’t laid off to begin with.

So I think the principle is just indisputable, as Mr. Baroz himself makes clear.

In other words Carney was telling reporters not to bother paying attention to what the President actually said, since it was clearly a bad example of the point he was trying to make, but instead they should try and figure out what he meant to say. And if they can’t figure it out just ask him and he will explain it to them.

It’s just wonderful to see all this transparency from the Obama administration.

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