Accuracy in Media

During a “Newsmakers” panel earlier this week featuring several top Obama campaign officials, ABC News’ Jake Tapper questioned the campaign’s aggressive effort to accuse Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan of lying, and whether fact checking is important in light of Vice-President Joe Biden’s recent fact-challenged statements.

Tapper was referring to Biden’s claim that Romney received “a federal bailout” for Bain & Co. that cost the cost the government and taxpayers $10 million.

Biden based his claim on an article in Rolling Stone magazine that said, “Romney was willing to go to extremes to secure a federal bailout to serve his own interests” at Bain & Co.

Bain & Co. had run into financial problems and owed the Bank of New England $38 million, which it couldn’t pay. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which had taken over the failed bank, agreed to reduce the loan amount by $10 million. Rolling Stone and Joe Biden labeled that a “federal bailout,” but while the FDIC is a government agency, it is financed through deposit insurance payments and not taxpayer funds.

But that doesn’t seem to matter to the Obama campaign.

Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt told Tapper that “When it came to a challenge for the firm of himself and his partners he went to the federal government, to the FDIC, to get a bailout. So I think we try very hard.”

Tapper responded to LaBolt by saying the FDIC doesn’t use taxpayer funds, which prompted deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter to blurt out that  the FDIC is “taxpayer guaranteed.” Tapper pointed out that that wasn’t what Biden had said.

Cutter went on to talk about how much the campaign cares about fact checks and the honesty of their ads, but refused to admit that Biden or the campaign erred in this case.

Tapper wasn’t the only one calling Biden’s claims into question. The Washington Post Fact Checker took a look at the bailout charge and found it wanting enough to give it three Pinocchios out of a possible four. That’s about as close to a whopper as one can get and blows away Cutter’s claim that the campaign cares about the facts.





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