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Is it me who's crazy? [Oct. 12th, 2012|09:14 am]
Okay, I was browsing an article that linked to factcheck.org, and saw this:
(original link: http://factcheck.org/2012/10/veep-debate-violations/)

Ryan repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for calling Syrian President Bashar Assad “a reformer when he’s killing his own civilians.” At one point, Biden tried to interrupt Ryan to ask who had done so.

So, who’s right? Ryan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a March 27, 2011, interview on “Face the Nation” explained why the U.S. would intervene in Libya, but not Syria — despite a recent attack by Syrian police on civilians. At the time, there were reports that as many as 20 Syrian civilians had been killed. Clinton called Assad a “different leader” who many in Congress believe is “a reformer.”

Clinton, March 27, 2011: There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is– is deeply concerning. But there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities, than police actions, which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.

Am I the crazy one here? Didn't Hilary Clinton say "some people call him a reformer" and not call him a reformer herself?

Is *that* what counts as "fact checking"? That Hilary Clinton actually said the word "reformer" even though she was claiming that some believed that to be true?

I can understand an intellectually lazy person believing that Clinton called him a "reformer" and I can understand a liar saying that Clinton called him a "reformer" but I think anyone who's got any basic understanding of English who reads that for content (e.g., a fact checker) would say "Clinton said that some in congress think he's a reformer".

[User Picture]From: pernishus
2012-10-12 04:46 pm (UTC)
We do seem to be a fair distance from achieving Heinlein's "Fair Witness", don't we?... Thanks for this post, John. Judging on the basis of the student writing I see, accurate use of language seems to be pretty far down the list of priorities these days.
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[User Picture]From: teddywolf
2012-10-12 09:04 pm (UTC)
Sad to say, accuracy is where you find it. I think about how many companies keep laying off their editors and proofreaders, then produce sloppy visual products and just shrug that this is how it is. We used to prize good work in language.

I knew it was really bad when I started reading a book by a Nobel-prize-winning economist and caught a basic math mistake in the first dozen pages. I'm still reading the book, but that very elementary mistake does mean I'm slightly more wary about the book than I want to be.
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[User Picture]From: teddywolf
2012-10-12 09:01 pm (UTC)
There's a good reason I stopped going to FactCheck.org. The last time I went there they seemed to have an overt bias, and it felt relatively strong. They seem to have problems with what the definition of "is" is.

I use Politifact, which has a much better system of analysis and is decidedly non-partisan. Of course, I cannot discount the possibility of my own confirmation bias, but since I have never seen them handwave anything away at Politifact, I think they are trustworthy, and have thought so since long before their recent partnership with NPR.
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