Fact-Check This

The Associated Press got an advance copy of Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue, and assigned eleven reporters, apparently, to try to find errors in it. The eleven collaborated on an article titled “FACT CHECK: Palin’s book goes rogue on some facts.” In fact, though, the AP’s catalogue of alleged errors–six in total–is thin at best.
The AP starts with this one:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking “only” for reasonably priced rooms and not “often” going for the “high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.
THE FACTS: Although she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in New York in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000.

This is frankly pathetic. Palin says she didn’t “often” stay at high-end hotels, and the AP counters by saying she did, once. Yes, that’s why she said “not often” rather than “never.” What is indisputable is that Palin sold the Governor’s private jet and flew commercial, thereby saving the taxpayers a large amount of money and qualifying her as a frugal traveler.
The rest are about as lame. Here is another:

PALIN: Rails against taxpayer-financed bailouts, which she attributes to Obama. She recounts telling daughter Bristol that to succeed in business, “you’ll have to be brave enough to fail.”
THE FACTS: Palin is blurring Obama’s stimulus plan–a $787 billion package of tax cuts, state aid, social programs and government contracts–and the federal bailout that President George W. Bush signed.
Palin’s views on bailouts appeared to evolve as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. In September 2008, she said “taxpayers cannot be looked to” to bail out Wall Street.
The next month, she praised McCain for being “instrumental in bringing folks together” to pass the $700 billion bailout. After that, she said “it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in.”

The AP doesn’t quote Palin, so it’s hard to say whether she “blurs” the bailouts or not. But by the AP’s own account, Palin has consistently opposed bailouts, except that during the Presidential campaign, she loyally supported McCain’s position on the initial TARP program. That’s what a Vice-Presidential candidate is supposed to do, and this is not a “fact-check.”
This one, I simply don’t believe:

PALIN: Welcomes last year’s Supreme Court decision deciding punitive damages for victims of the nation’s largest oil spill tragedy, the Exxon Valdez disaster, stating it had taken 20 years to achieve victory. As governor, she says, she’d had the state argue in favor of the victims, and she says the court’s ruling went “in favor of the people.”
THE FACTS: That response is at odds with her reaction at the time to the ruling, which resolved the case by reducing punitive damages for victims to $500 million from $2.5 billion. Palin said then she was “extremely disappointed” and it was “tragic” so many fishermen and families put their lives on hold waiting for the decision.

Again, the AP doesn’t quote Palin but rather asks us to take their word for the fact that Palin “welcomes” the Supreme Court’s Exxon Valdez decision in her book as a “ruling [that] went ‘in favor of the people.'” I would bet that the AP is mischaracterizing what Palin says in her book. She criticized the Supreme Court’s decision at the time, as did most Alaskans, and cited it as a Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed in the Katie Couric interview. I seriously doubt that she contradicts that position in her book, although I wouldn’t doubt that she called the verdict against Exxon (which was slashed by the Supreme Court) as a decision “in favor of the people.”
It appears to be a tribute to the factual accuracy of Palin’s book that eleven hostile AP reporters can’t come up with anything better than this.
It’s funny how the press fact-checks some things but not others. Here is just one of thousands of examples one could cite: John Kerry, arguing for the cap-and-tax bill that he co-sponsored with Barbara Boxer (these are two of the least intelligent legislators of modern times, by the way), claimed that “over the last eight years, emissions in the United States of America in greenhouse gases went up four times faster than in the 1990s.” This is a typical example of a “fact” that John Kerry just made up. In fact, carbon emissions rose much faster in the 1990s than over the last eight years:

The Institute for Energy Research explains:

According to data from the Energy Information Administration, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions increased by 15.14% between 1990 and 1999, but from 2001 to 2008 carbon dioxide emissions only increased by 1.88%. If Senator Kerry were correct, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would have increased by 60.5% over the last 8 years, but they only increased by 1.88%. Senator Kerry overestimated [the growth in] U.S. emissions by a factor of 32.

Do you suppose the Associated Press will assign eleven reporters to “fact-check” John Kerry? No, I don’t think so, either.

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