Over at Instapundit:
WHY PEOPLE DON’T TRUST BIG-MEDIA “FACT-CHECKERS:” Meet MSNBC’s fact-checker: Ezra Klein?!? Update: Klein’s blog falsely claims that Janesville auto plant closed in 2008.
UPDATE: More here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Robert Simmons writes: “As much as it pains me, the closing of the plant did happen under Bush. The decision to close the plant was made in 2008. While I think Obamanomics has been nothing short of disastrous, it’s a stretch to pin that particular point of failure on Barry.” It’s not whether the failure is his fault — it’s that he basically promised to keep it open for 100 years.
MORE: Reader Rick Licari writes:
I wrote about this on a message board a bit earlier, but I think this is a case of the chattering class so busily getting caught up in the details of a speech (when did the plant close?!?) that they’re missing the message…and the fact that Ryan never says the plant closed under Obama.
This is what Ryan said:
“Especially in Janesville where we were about to lose a major factory. A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that G.M. plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, “I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years.”
That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
Obama spoke at Janesville in February of 2008, the plant was closed down in December of 2008 (though not shuttered until June 2009).
Three things stand out about this, first, why a private company (the largest in its field, too) needs government support. Second, Ryan is right it did shut down within a year of Obama speaking. Third, GM started requesting aid from the government in 2006 for various reasons, finally getting some cash to hold off their inevitable bankruptcy in December 2008. So, what Ryan is saying isn’t “Obama failed GM at Janesville.” But “it is ludicrous to plan your success around the whims of government, you will get screwed.”
I think they’re just trying to throw out enough chaff to obscure that point.
Seems like fact checkers need to do some fact checking of their own assumptions. Paul Ryan’s speech last night included a reference to a GM plant in Janesville that closed, which Ryan used to criticize Barack Obama for failing to meet his campaign promises. A number of “fact” checkers jumped all over Ryan’s anecdote to claim that he lied about the circumstances of the plant’s closure. We’ll just take one example, from the AP’s “fact’ check:
RYAN: Said Obama misled people in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., by making them think a General Motors plant there threatened with closure could be saved. “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: `I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.”
THE FACTS: The plant halted production in December 2008, weeks before Obama took office and well before he enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and allowed the majority of their plants – though not the Janesville facility – to stay in operation. Ryan himself voted for an auto bailout under President George W. Bush that was designed to help GM, but he was a vocal critic of the one pushed through by Obama that has been widely credited with revitalizing both GM and Chrysler.
Actually, those “facts” aren’t quite accurate, either. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported in September of last year — long before Ryan got added to the ticket — the Janesville plant got shut down in 2009, after being notified of their pending closure in December 2008:
General Motors Co. has committed to reopen its idled plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., and keep its shuttered assembly plant in Janesville on standby status.
The commitment to the former Saturn plant in Tennessee was part of a contract settlement reached late last week between GM and the United Auto Workers union.
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 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.
The Obama campaign is lashing out at Paul Ryan, claiming that his fantastic convention speechlast night was packed with falsehoods and lies. Here’s their hysterical response video:
To the surprise of no one, the ad’s “rebuttals” are misleading and wrong themselves. Point by point:
(1) They begin with video of CNN reporters discussing accusations of Ryan’s “lies.” This is proof that the Obama campaign sent out a lot of angry emails, and nothing else.
(2) Medicare – Sorry, guys, but it is 100 percent true that Obamacare raided $716 Billion from Medicare to pay for itself. It does cut benefits to current seniors. And Paul Ryan’s plan took the president’s Medicare “savings,” and re-routed them back into Medicare to shore up the program. Mitt Romney’s plan would undo those cuts altogether. Obama took those cuts and used them to pay for Obamacare. He has admitted this on camera:
(3) The GM Plant – Part of the factory Ryan mentioned was shut down under Bush, despite the initial GM bailout (which Senator Obama supported). The plant finally fully closed in April of 2009, during Obama’s presidency, as this report clearly states. Obama’s problem is that he showed up and made empty promises to pander for votes. Ryan never said Obama was personally responsible for the plant’s closure, but he accurately stated that it closed down within a year of candidate Obama’s hope-filled speech and remains closed today. Obama goes on and on about “saving” the auto industry and his economic recovery. That boarded-up Janesville plant tells a different story.
(4) The Stimulus – Pointing out that Paul Ryan asked that his district receive a slice of a giant, wasteful pie after it was passed — and despite his opposition — is at worst an instance of hypocrisy. It does not disprove anything that Ryan said in his speech, and it does not change the empirical fact that Barack Obama’s borrowed stimulus has utterly failed based on the metrics for success Obama himself set out for it.
(5) The debt commission – What Ryan said is absolutely correct. The Obama ad quotes Chris Wallace, who notes that Ryan was on that commission and voted against it. True. He refused to abide the section maintaining Obamacare, and voted no on its final findings. Still, he was intimately involved in the group’s deliberations and proposed solutions. Not fully happy with the final outcome, he went on to craft two budgets of his own, with numerous elements based on the Simpson-Bowles framework. The commission’s Democratic co-chairman (Bowles of Simpson-Bowles) has praised Ryan’s proposals to the hilt. Barack Obama, who convened the commission in the first place after deriding commissionson the campaign trail, completely ignored its recommendations and proceeded to propose to wildly reckless, debt-busting budgets that received a total of zero votes in either house of Congress. Correctly asserting that Ryan opposed the final Simpson-Bowles recommendations is no way absolves Obama for his demonstrable abdication of leadership on these issues. It’s more smoke and mirrors — and more petty Obama blame, another central theme of Ryan’s address.
(6) Chris Matthews called the speech “nasty.” Stop the presses!
If this is all they’ve got, it’s no wonder they’re freaking out. Paul Ryan told the truth about Barack Obama, and the president’s campaign can’t handle it.