Washington Post fact-checker, columnist fact-check each other

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Representatives from the nation’s fact-checking apparatus will gather Wednesday at the National Press Club to discuss “the less-than-factual lines President Obama and Mitt Romney are likely to spin” at their debates, Amy Bingham reports. FactCheck.org, the Associated Press, The Washington Post and Politifact, which is owned by Poynter’s Tampa Bay Times, all plan to send red-pencilers.

The first debate is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler appears to be all set for fact-checking’s Super Bowls: Monday morning he published a takedown of a claim in a political ad based on a Marc Thiessen column that ran in The Washington Post.

In the piece, Kessler goes to work on Thiessen’s thesis that “more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting.” He goes into wonk-glazing detail on the presidential daily briefing (PDB) and concludes it’s a “a misguided attack because Obama has chosen to receive his information in a different manner than his predecessor.” Three Pinocchios, ruleth the fact-checker.

Thiessen fired back Tuesday morning.

What Kessler and the Obama White House do argue is a matter not of fact but of opinion — that it does not matter if Obama attends a daily intelligence meeting because he reads his PDB every day. …

It is a fact that for eight years before Obama took office, there was a daily meeting to discuss the PDB. And it is a fact that, on taking office, Obama stopped holding the daily intelligence meeting on a daily basis. Kessler may not think that is important, and he is entitled to his own opinion — but not his own facts.

I give Four Pinocchios to the Fact Checker.

Amazingly, this intramural dispute does not end there. Kessler updated his earlier piece, noting that in his new column, Thiessen mentions that a study that was the basis of his first “was done at his request, by his business partner, and that he now describes the Government Accountability Institute as ‘nonpartisan’ whereas in his earlier column he had called it a ‘conservative investigative research organization.’ ” He also identifies what he says is an “inconsistency problem” in the Government Accountability Institute’s report.

“We had nearly given this data Four Pinocchios and in retrospect we were perhaps too generous with Three,” Kessler writes. I asked Kessler via email whether Thiessen was the first Post writer whose work he’d fact-checked. “I didn’t think I was fact-checking” Thiessen, Kessler replied. “I was checking an ad that used a report that he cited–but somehow he took it as a fact check of him.” He added:

“I generally do not want to get in the business of fact-checking Post columnists.”

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  • Anonymous

    here is another date picked at random

    For Immediate Release

    Office of the Press Secretary

    October 28, 2002

    Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer

    Aboard Air Force One

    En route Alamogordo, New Mexico

    Presidential Schedule

    Assassination in Jordan

    U.N. Resolution Russian

    Hostage Situation
    APEC

    8:00 A.M. MST

    MR. FLEISCHER: Good morning. Today is Monday, October 27th, and

    the President will begin his day in New Mexico, to support the
    congressional candidate, Steve Pearce; gubernatorial candidate John
    Sanchez, and the New Mexico Republican ticket.

    From there, the President will travel to Colorado to support the
    campaigns of Colorado congressional candidate Bob Beauprez and Senator
    Wayne Allard, as well as Colorado’s Republican ticket. And will be
    back in Washington this evening.

    Not any mention of an in person security briefing?

  • Anonymous

    here is another date picked at random

    For Immediate Release

    Office of the Press Secretary

    October 28, 2002

    Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer

    Aboard Air Force One

    En route Alamogordo, New Mexico

    Presidential Schedule

    Assassination in Jordan

    U.N. Resolution Russian

    Hostage Situation
    APEC

    8:00 A.M. MST

    MR. FLEISCHER: Good morning. Today is Monday, October 27th, and

    the President will begin his day in New Mexico, to support the
    congressional candidate, Steve Pearce; gubernatorial candidate John
    Sanchez, and the New Mexico Republican ticket.

    From there, the President will travel to Colorado to support the
    campaigns of Colorado congressional candidate Bob Beauprez and Senator
    Wayne Allard, as well as Colorado’s Republican ticket. And will be
    back in Washington this evening.

    Not any mention of an in person security briefing?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, there is no mention of a daily briefing on the presidents schedule on 2 of the days I look at randomly????? January 7th, 2009 and March 3rd, 2003???? Perhaps Thiessen can provide links to the Presidents schedule that shows he actually had those in person briefings on those days cause That’s not what his Press briefings say.