Friday, September 7, 2012

Red Herrings in AP "Fact-Checking"

Fact-Checking is apparently a big thing these days (particularly in the wake of Paul Ryan's falsehood-filled speech at the Republican National Convention), with everyone trying to get in on the game. However, not all fact-checkers are created equal. In the AP "Fact-Checking" of Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention by Matt Apuzzo, there is a great example of a Red Herring:
CLINTON: "Their campaign pollster said, 'We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.' Now that is true. I couldn't have said it better myself — I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."
THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were "legally accurate" but also allowed that he "misled people, including even my wife."
As you can see, this comment on the speech really doesn't address the claim that Bill Clinton made, but rather tries to change the subject by introducing an irrelevant consideration, namely Bill Clinton's conduct during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. While it is true that Clinton has been deceptive and slippery in the past, that is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not the Romney campaign is being honest. The fact is, Romney's campaign manager did say the quote attributed to him, and for the AP to ignore that and instead start talking about the Lewinsky affair is a perfect example of a Red Herring.

h/t Alex Pareene

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