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Fact-checkers worry about Bachmann ‘overload’

An AP editor says so many of her statements don’t add up, stories get thrown out of  balance.

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.
REUTERS/Joshua Lott

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:

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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.”