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In order to keep up with the nature of free, spirited debate, I wanted to place the chat feature at the top of the homepage. This ensures people can come here and share their views on anything they wish and not have it be related to any specific discussion. Here, people can share ideas, links, and views "unmoderated" and an their own pace. To me, this makes The Elephant in the Room blog truly a place for debate.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fact Checking a Fact Check: Did CNN Rush to Judgement?

So what did you think of Paul Ryan's speech last night? I thought he did a great job. He said what was needed: that the economy is not recovering quickly enough, that 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, that one in six Americans now live in poverty, and yes, logically, we need a change in leadership. These are facts, and there really is no way around them. Of course, without hesitation, the liberal media was quick to jump on Ryan's speech, searching for any little tidbit of information they could to show he was a "liar" and "short on facts." But it didn't start with the media. Last night, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, who falsely (by a matter of 4x1) claimed "Obama has created more jobs than Ronald Reagan" tweeted the following during Ryan's speech:

(Click the image for an expanded view)

An interesting claim, it surely is. Like wildfire through the internet, this "hope it sticks" talking point was being spread. It spread so fast that the Washington Post issued a fact check about it (albeit, from the same guy that said Obama's ads about Mitt Romney's alleged outsourcing were 100% false) at 10:52pm, and the panel at CNN jumped on it quickly. In an analysis here (, democratic strategist Hilary Rosen writes:

     - "He told a story he knows to be untrue about a GM plant closing after the president had promised to keep it open, yet the plant actually closed when George W. Bush was president."

Of course, I checked the article in the Washington Post. It calls out Ryan and claims that the plant was closed in December of 2008, before Obama took office. 

Well, shoot... they got us! Our golden boy Vice President nominee is a liar. 

But then this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel came up:

It's dated September 19th, 2011 and it claims in its third paragraph:

     - "Since they were shut down in 2009, both the Janesville and Tennessee plants have been on standby status, meaning they were not producing vehicles, but they were not completely shut down."

The article goes on and specifically discusses the Janesville plant:

     - "The Janesville plant stopped production of SUVs in 2008 and was idled in 2009 after it completed production of medium-duty trucks... Remaining on standby means not much has changed in Janesville. Community leaders say they would be ready if the GM plant reopened, but no one seems to be counting on that."

So what did we learn? Well, it appears, based on the MJS article, the plant was shut down in 2009 as Ryan said, in spite of Cutter's and Rosen's claims. According to this article, it seems that the gun was jumped in looking for a hole in Ryan's claim, and this could come back to bite those who leaped at the opportunity. But I'll leave it up to you to decide how to take it. And oh yeah, since I'm sure this issue will be addressed; if you want to debate the semantics of Ryan's claim of being "closed" versus "shut down," good luck. I suggest you also ask the opinions of the thousands of GM employees who were laid off because of this plant's shutdown.

Please share your opinions below. Thank you.


  1. LME: More evidence you are correct and CUTter and Rosen are wrong:

    Dated April 21 2009

  2. Ladies and gentleman, we have just seen the death of the credibility of Politifact:

    Ryan said Obama broke his promise to keep a Wisconsin GM plant from closing. But we don't see evidence he explicitly made such a promise -- and more importantly, the Janesville plant shut down before he took office.


    Well, maybe Politifact shouldn't take it's advice from Stephanie Cutter. Seeing how this is coming out to be insanely false, backed by numerous articles showing it's false, it appears Politifact jumped the gun, too!

  3. I actually just came by here after finding this article:

    Shocked to see what Fox News (of all places) listed as the #2, and they also mention that plant falsification.

    Frankly though, why on earth is this even relevant? Since when is the POTUS directly responsible for what individual plants are shut down in the private industries? Particularly when whether they remain open is determined by contractual agreements?

    Why is Paul Ryan bringing this up? And why is anyone bothering with debating this topic? It's completely irrelevant. The terms of that plant opening up are, as said in the very article, part of negotiations between the unions and GM.

    Using that as some sort of 'ammo' either way is reaching, to me. Regardless of what is really 'true'.

    1. Allow me to try to address this one RKen, because sometimes I think you miss the points. Maybe if I explain how I see it, it will clear the air.

      The original point of this article is the calling out of the mainstream media for jumping on a “yes, we got him” moment BEFORE the facts were made known. That is the whole basis of this article.

      As far as the plant closing, yes, I do agree with your statement: The terms of that plant opening up are, as said in the very article, part of negotiations between the unions and GM. This is true, and there is no way around it. But that’s not what Ryan was talking about, and here is where I think you “miss” a lot of this.

      One of the main reasons I like this blog is because it gets below the surface. LME has pointed out, correctly, the phrase I have grown to love. It’s something like (mytake of it) “difficult inheritance or not, that’s not the promise that was made. Obama made a promise to fix an economy in 4 years, and he has not. We can only judge a man by whether or not he accomplishes the goals he set out to achieve.”

      This is another example. Barack Obama ran on promises to get votes. He made the claim that as president he would enact policies that would keep this plant open for another 100 years. While you’re right that a plant being open has absolutely nothing to do with what the president says, that isn’t what Obama said. He made a promise, got the votes, and, beyond his control, the plant closed. The bottom line: nearly 7000 people lost their jobs. Was it the president’s fault? NO! But the president got elected based on wonderful-sounding over promises.

      What is really “true” is where LME’s article comes in to play. The left tries to lie it away, as it usually does, in spite of the facts that exist. What I take away is what I said: Obama over-promised a lot, and now the country is not getting a return on its 2008 vote. I hope that clears the air, RKen.

    2. RKen, I guess one reason it is up for debate is because there is one candidate running around saying "GM is alive and Osama is dead". I'm sure that just makes the folks that worked at Janesville feel so good about 0bama "saving" GM.

      Also, Sally Kohn (the author of your Fox story) is a flaming lib. In other words, she is a liar for the 0bama campaign too.

      Check out the Janesville newspaper story:

      It is from Feb 19, 2009. That would be a month after 0bama was sworn in. So Sally is a liar too.

    3. RKen, 32Slim32, Dara, MN 4 Rick, and everyone else. Good morning, and happy one day left until the Labor Day weekend!

      There are a lot of things to address here, so I gotta try to keep my response quick, (since my opinions are in the article :P)

      I think MN 4 Rick summed up the issue beautifully. I even like how he points out RKen's truth that yes, a GM plant closing has absolutely nothing to do with the president. But, as Rick did point out, that's not the intent here. I wrote the article to show how the credibility of the MSM should be questioned, and, as my backing, here is a reason why.

      While the closing of the plant is a mere cog in all this, the MSM's lying is not. On a side note, it seems that recently on Facebook, I find myself commenting to people on the "other side" that it's okay to question the media. I find it rare that I actually agree with pundits such as Ann Coulter, but she is right: the bias of the media during this election is at an all-time high. Though difficult to quantify, a simple look at does lend some truth to this. Even my mom, a democrat has acknowledged it (yes, I'm shocked to), and sadly, the power of this unchecked, unbalanced controller of information could very well sweep Obama into office... on a platform that isn't very honest.

      Just my opinion :-)

    4. I understand LME's point in this post, and appreciate the continued clarifications, but I think I should clarify too: my questioning of this topic was directed towards Paul Ryan bringing this up as one of the key points in his speech; and not just any speech, but an important one. It just seems way far overreaching to me to include this tidbit as part of 'ammunition against Obama'... Just like it would be if Obama delivered a major speech where he accused Mitt of not caring about dogs because of the whole dog-on-top-of-car ridiculousness.

      I do understand the need/desire to point out where people have wrongfully picked apart what he said, but to me my bigger concern is why this is even truly relevant in the first place.

      Even if you tie the plant closing to an 'implied promise' of Obama, and we for the heck of it assume that contract negations weren't a factor, it happened less than 3 months after his inauguration date. You can't practically criticize a President for not being able to swing around the economy less than three months after their inauguration. It's just an incredibly weak, unrealistic and senseless point to me.

      There are plenty of good, strong reasons to criticize Obama and his performance as a president, but this just isn't one of them.

    5. I can maybe, just maybe a little bit see where you're coming from Rken. But, I counter with when people are giving these speeches, why go down any though topic they go down? Why did Condi mention her childhood?

      Looking at two issues, yes, the point of this post is something I stand 100% behind, and I don't know how the left can spin away from the fact that they got caught.

      But I want to look at what you're talking about: why bring this up?

      It IS relevant. Obama through the wonderful campaign he brought in 2008 brought this thing called Hope. I think we can reasonably agree that it has not lived up to expectations. Now granted, as we have all pointed out, he can't do jack about that plant. You know it, MN knows it, LME knows it. But I don't think that's what Ryan was pointing out.

      You are saying that he is using it as ammo against Obama as if it was a failed policy. It seems that you believe, correct me if I'm wrong, that if Ryan points this out as a "look, Obama's policies failed, and the evidence is that this one factory closed (though there are many)" is a stretch. I would agree, but that's not what Ryan was saying. He absolutely IS focusing on the campaign promise; the will of the left to get elected based on promises. It has been Ryan's big thing. The "I'm not the guy to promise you things to get your vote." He has said time and time again that it is about Obama's failure to lead and his broken promises, and about how Obama is worrying about the election (and pandering to succeed).

      So, in conclusion, while I can completely agree with you that if Ryan was pointing to this factory as a failed Obama policy issue, he would be wrong. But I think, and the fact that it was in his hometown proves the "he even came to my hometown with 'hope'" and that's a "homegrown feeling. I think he is calling out the president on running a campaign big on promises, low on results.

    6. More than fair enough point, Texas, I can see what you mean on that. I did interpret Ryan's speech as more of a "look, Obama's policies failed, and the evidence is that this one factory closed" than the broken promise avenue. But I can understand that the 'broken promise' theme makes more sense and was likely more his intention.

    7. RKen - my phone just buzzed for your comment, so I wanted to chime in.

      I hope you don't think coming here means getting attacked by righties. I can see why you took it that way, and I can see why Texas Tea, MN 4 Rick and others did. I'm just hoping that you're not feeling attacked or anything.

      I think it's great that people like you come in and express your views freely, and I'm glad that this conversation stayed incredibly civil. I do think that everyone has gotten better at it :-)

      If I'm over worrying, let me know. If not, please know I'm totally sincere, and would always want you and those like you to come here often to express anything you want to express though, obviously, we might not all be in the same house as you :-)

    8. Ha, it does often feel a bit tough/one-sided :) but I expect that. I don't come here hoping for everyone to agree with me, but I just hope to at least paint a different perspective/view on various topics.

      Appreciate the concern though!

    9. No matter how one sided it is, I know I can speak for many here when I say your opinions are respected. And, at least for me, even if I disagree with your views, I always want to hear them. I'm only one set of eyes and ears... I think more speech is better speech.

  4. I guess MSLSD rushed to judgement too. I was watching their panel of clowns and jackasses last night and they were saying the same thing, that the plant shutdown under Bush. Of course we all know that fact and truth are two things you won't get over there at MSDNC.

    The race pimp Al not so Sharpton said if you want "an eloquent person [Ryan] that does not tell the truth, this was a great performance."

    And special Ed Schultz said people in Janesville should know that he (Ryan) is lying.

    I'll tell you what special Ed. Why don't you carry your fat mouth on up there and dig out their layoff notices and lets look at the date of the layoff notices.

    It is kind of funny watching these imbeciles lie to cover the pathetic failing joke in office.

  5. FoxNews' Chris Wallace (of yacht vacationing with O's celebrity lap-dog George Clooney infamy) was the FIRST to jump on the 'Jamesville GM plant didn't close when Ryan said it did' bandwagon... on FOX, immediately after the speech.

    Twitter also went crazy with the left bashing Condi Rice and Suzanne Martinez with horrible rantings...And WE'RE the supposed racists? Do those people have NO shame?!

    I'm getting so tired of Conservatives/Republicans called liars (and worse) while O and his ilk blatantly LIE each and every time they open their mouths. Their lies are supported with gleeful help from people like Chris (tingle up my leg) Matthews and Rachel MadCow... When people like Wasserman-Shultz, Gibbs and Cutter are called out with PROVABLE FACTS - they're all 'it's MY story and I'm sticking to it!'

    And instead of doing their OWN research, the lefty sheeple repeat the lies they hear from the LSM and ARGUE till their ears turn blue that it's gospel (cause the DEMS SAID it, and THEY wouldn't lie to US)...