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Fact-checkers worry about Bachmann ‘overload’

REUTERS/Joshua Lott
AP realized that if they wrote about all of Bachmann’s lies, falsehoods, misstatements, etc., the overall effort to fact-check the field of Republican candidates would be thrown too far out of balance.

Jim Drinkard, an Associated Press (AP) editor who oversees the wire service’s fact-checking work, said, “We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates.”

The quote above, which refers to the 101 Repub presidential debates and obviously refers to the ones that occurred while Rep. Bachmann was still running for president, comes from a Washington Post piece about the journalistic “fact-checking” business. Drinkard made the statement at an event yesterday at the National Press Club about fact-checking.

Drinkard later clarified that the AP didn’t have a literal numerical quota on Bachmann-said-something-untrue pieces. Rather, the news agency just realized that if they wrote about all of Bachmann’s lies, falsehoods, misstatements, etc., the overall effort to fact-check the double-digit field of Repub candidates would be thrown too far out of balance.

Or, as the Post story put it:

After the session, Drinkard said that there wasn’t an actual numerical quota on Bachmann at the AP. It’s just that if the AP had gone back and vetted all her claims that looked dicey, the result would “overload” the debate story. “Often she was just more prone to statements that just didn’t add up,” said Drinkard.

Meanwhile, the fact-checking feature of KSTP-Channel  5 (the “Truth Test”) gave Bachmann’s Dem challenger Jim Graves a “D” for the first attack ad the Graves campaign has run against Bachmann. The ad features workers from the Sartell paper mill that burned down complaining that Bachmann never called them. Reporter Tom Hauser calls the ad “true but very misleading,” because a Bachmann staff member was there within an hour of the fire and attended several meetings about the plant in the aftermath. Hauser gave Bachmann’s first attack ad against Graves a “B minus.”

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by mark wallek on 09/27/2012 - 09:58 am.

    Here’s one important fact

    Absolutely everything that Bachmann does is done for her, and her sponsors benefit. Hence the hefty “war chest” to “do battle” with anyone interested in being honest.

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/27/2012 - 11:14 am.

    Michelle Bachmann is NOT a Member of the Cabinet

    She’s not even a senator. She’s the local representative of a National Congressional District. Such districts are geographically small areas and, therefore, very accessible.

    Part of the local service that constituents have a right to expect of their congressperson is that they show up in person at such times of tragedy as the Sartell Paper Mill fire in order to express their care and concern for the folks affected and to listen to their concerns (workers, management, and community leaders) to discover if they have needs she can help address.

    To send a STAFFER is, in essence to say to the people in Sartell, “You’re not worth my time and trouble.” It is a deliberate snub.

    Therefore, the impression being left by Jim Grave’s add, calling her out on her neglect of Sartell, is completely accurate.

    That KSTP’s Mr. Hauser (no doubt at the urging of the well-known arch “conservative” owner of KSTP, Stan Hubbard) would try to tell the residents of the Sixth District that their own feelings that their neighbors in Sartell were neglected and ignored by Rep. Bachmann after the paper mill fire is a testament to Mr. Hubbard’s own desire to “spin” the facts of a very insensitive misstep on Ms. Bachmann’s part,…

    (or a testament to the necessity of reporters working at KSTP not to offend Mr. Hubbard’s tender sensibilities if they want to keep their jobs),…

    and a clear testament to how firmly Mr. Hubbard believes that he can use his staff to carry out his belief that people can be expected to suspend their disbelief when watching KSTP’s news just like they do when watching its soap operas and sitcoms;…

    that by using his KSTP mouthpiece, he can successfully tell people to ignore what they know to be true in favor of what he tells them is true, and they’ll just swallow whatever he tells them because he uses pretty people as his mouthpieces and it’s on TV.

    If he keeps this up, what they’ll actually do is change channels to a local station that tells them what’s really happening that they might not know about, yet, rather than trying to tell them that their own personal experience wasn’t what they know it to have been.

  3. Submitted by Barbara Skoglund on 09/27/2012 - 11:17 am.


    Never forget, KSTP is owned by one of the most conservative, largest GOP contributors in the state.

  4. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 09/27/2012 - 11:25 am.

    Advice for the Fact Checkers…

    just go with the old lawyer joke…..if Michelle’s lips are moving, she must be lying.

  5. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 09/27/2012 - 11:35 am.

    Hauser is being disingenuous

    The ad is true, and it’s not misleading. Bachmann never called them, and she certainly didn’t say or do anything to help them after the fire, either. She only showed up at some meetings to maker herself look as though she cared.

    Perhaps the fact that Tom Hauser is a Republican is the basis for his less-than-objective grading of the ad with a “D” and saying it’s misleading. I can’t recall him ever actually saying any of Bachmann’s ads or public statements are lies, so that indicates a lot of bias there, or complete timidity to call it what it is. Apparently, the entire news media is afraid to call something a lie when they know it is.

  6. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 09/27/2012 - 12:51 pm.

    Tom Hauser

    I had a small run-in with Hauser several months ago. He said his facts were 100% right, but I sent back a fact that undermined his statement; he never responded. What struck, me, however, was his arrogance and hostility when he responded by email.
    As far as I can tell, there is no decent local news program. At 10 I either leave the TV off until the weather comes on and/or channel surf to find out if any of the 3 main channels has any news. They almost never do. If something of importance is mentioned on one channel, it is almost always very short and gives no context.
    No wonder people aren’t watching TV news anymore. We know they are unreliable and untruthful. I sometimes watch BBC news at 10, but I can’t get local news that way.

  7. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 09/27/2012 - 01:22 pm.

    …” media afraid to call something a lie”…

    Maybe if the word “lie’ were treated as an acronym – political correctness, whatever – for a reticent media, it would be easier for the timid/ timider/timidest professionals to accept it…LIE… as Locked-In-Error

  8. Submitted by Steve Keith on 09/27/2012 - 04:46 pm.

    Whose ‘checking’ the “fact checkers”?

    “AP realized that if they wrote about all of Bachmann’s lies, falsehoods, misstatements…”

    Eric Black leads the article with a gratuitous slap at Bachmann by an unknown “newsman”, but gives NOT A SINGLE EXAMPLE of the supposed “lies”. This is the classic Saul Alinsky approach to political propaganda – start with character assasination and simply repeat it until the media is saturated with the misinformation.

    I was amazed that he did add the KSTP story on the Bachmann/Graves ads, since it reasonably shows Bachmann as more truthful than her opponent. Perhaps that should have been the lead-in instead of the old DFL party line (the “politics of personal destruction”).

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/27/2012 - 06:58 pm.

      In case you missed it….

      Here is the leadin to Eric’s article:
      “Jim Drinkard, an Associated Press (AP) editor who oversees the wire service’s fact-checking work, said, “We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates.””

  9. Submitted by Ray Marshall on 09/27/2012 - 05:03 pm.

    Fact Check Democrats and Journalists

    Yes we need facts.

    And we needs facts on statements by Democrat Obama and his minions.

    And we need listsl of stories that don’t get printed that don’t make Democrats look good, or make others look too good.

    When 300,000 people show up in Washington DC and not a word is said or printed because it happens to be a pro-life rally, that tells me that journalism no longer deals in facts. Journalists working for the major networks, news services and newspapers today deal in opinions and those opinions that support Democrats.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/27/2012 - 09:17 pm.

      Sorry to Burst the Bubble

      But some of the things you believe to be missing from the media exist only in the fevered imaginations of those whose worldview tells them those things simply MUST exist,…

      therefore, the media MUST be suppressing them (the possibility that their worldview might be mistaken is never considered).

      As to the pro-life rally, the numbers for such things over the years have been demonstrated to be wildly inflated,…

      and when you complain about lack of coverage of the rally altogether,…

      you might want to compare notes with the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrated in major cities across the US, and in DC, for weeks leading up to the start of Bush/Cheney’s (“W” that is) Iraq war, and who were steadfastly ignored by the media,…

      or those who have continued with “occupy” efforts throughout the past year, but were rendered invisible by the media after about December 2011.

      In other words, those on the “conservative” side of the political spectrum certainly do not have a lock on having their efforts ignored by the media.

      You might also want to look up Glenn Greenwald regarding negative coverage of Obama, although
      Greenwald’s concern for how the civil rights guaranteed by the US constitution are being trampled here at home in the name of homeland security, and how the Geneva Conventions are being ignored by the US internationally might not be something for which you’re upset with Obama.

      Then of course, it seems as if former Rep. Anthony Weiner might wish that damaging stories about Democrats were as constantly suppressed as you seem to assume they are. Obama probably wished the same thing after the surreptitiously-recorded snippet where he commented on rural people “clinging to guns and God” during his first presidential campaign surfaced.

      You might also want to consider that there’s the reality that “conservative” sources and pundits are far more likely to be featured on the each of the major networks and cable news networks than moderates or “liberals.”

      The media is certainly not what any of us might wish it would be, but it clearly is NOT working against conservative causes and perspectives in favor of liberal ones. Indeed, rational, factional analyses have repeatedly demonstrated the opposite to be the case.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/28/2012 - 10:36 am.

      You definitely could use facts

      The problem is that you don’t have them.
      BTW — regularly prints negative evaluations of Obama’s statements.
      And that’s a fact.

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