Looking at the World Through a Pinhole Attached to a Straw

Just to make sure my ulcer stays inflamed, I took a look at the Post’s Fact Checker column to see if Glenn Kessler and his army of interns had made any corrections to address the contradiction between their claim on Wednesday that the Obama campaign is misleading us when they call Romney an outsourcer, and the Post’s Friday story on Bain’s history of outsourcing when Romney ran the place.  Spoiler alert–Pinnochio must have reverted back to being a puppet because the Fact Checker is silent.

Both the Post  and FactCheck.org have been handing out tsk-tsks to the Obama campaign over outsourcing, and if you read each of their columns, the internal justifications are consistent, if you want to ignore everything else Romney’s ever done on outsourcing. So both of them agree that the Obama campaign is making too much of Romney’s veto of an outsourcing bill  when he was Governor.  But the Post’s piece come’s with a heaping helping of attitude:

Since the vice president brought it up, let’s delve into some ancient Massachusetts history again.

Mitt Romney’s held one political office in 2002-2006. If that’s “ancient history” then there’s no way his Bain experience is even relevant. This is a completely arbitrary, not to mention stupid and damaging, view of accountability.

Then there’s the Pinnochio Patrol’s piece that directly addresses Bain’s outsourcing. The reporting behind that story, such as it is, is lazy.  Unlike Tom Hamburger, who wrote Friday’s Bain report in the Post, the Fact Checkers didn’t bother to actually check into Bain’s activity in the 90’s, so they can accuse the Obama campaign of making accusations about companies Bain bought after Romney was in charge.  But even the Fact Checkers had to acknowledge that some of the outsourcing the Obama campaign was complaining about happened during Romney’s watch. Throwing their usual skepticism to the wind, they disgorge this little piece of journalistic malpractice to justify their love:

We discovered that Romney’s name appeared on Bain SEC filings between 1999 and 2002. But a 2002 statement the former executive filed with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission said he was a “passive, limited partner [with] no management capacity” in the Bain entities in which he held ownership.

Just as with the “ancient history” criteria, if you think that a co-founder of a firm, someone who returned to re-organize it when it was about to go belly up, and who took a “leave of absence” in 1999, shouldn’t have any accountability for the actions of the same firm in the same year, then you’re definitely narrowing your focus to fit the conclusion you want to reach.

I don’t say this lightly because I really want the fact checkers to be effective, but if Kessler can’t even be bothered to respond to a story in his own paper, then he might as well close up shop.

Update: As Dubo points out, Kessler responded via email to TPM, but his response pretty much proves my point–he’s saying that he’s right because he restricted his outsourcing piece to 1999-2002. And if I restrict my analysis of a dog to a few millimeters of it’s coat, it’s a fucking tick.

50 replies
  1. 1
    dubo says:

    Kessler has responded, although his mewling response makes him look even worse than if he HAD stayed silent


  2. 2

    Heard a Massachusetts woman call into the Alex Bennett show last week. She said that Romney basically pulled a Palin — basically served half his term as MA Gov. and then for the second half of his term, was traveling the country preparing to run for president. Basically checked out and he knew there was no chance in hell he’d get re-elected because he was so unpopular so he didn’t even consider it.

    A good question to ask Romney is why he didn’t run for a second term … the answer would be that he was despised and would have lost royally.

  3. 3
    jwb says:

    All we are learning is that fact checkers are just as easy to buy and own as the rest of the media apparatus. Not really surprising, but still depressing.

  4. 4
    Linda Featheringill says:

    I’m tempted to ask who will fact check the fact checkers.

    But the fact checkers in question here put their conclusions in print and on the internet and so this record is very, very permanent. And when they are proven to be lazy, incompetent, or partisan, and when they try to say they didn’t actually say such and so, this record can and will be thrown into their face.

    Really, how old do you have to be to know that you shouldn’t lie in writing?

  5. 5
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Really, how old do you have to be to know that you shouldn’t lie in writing?

    What if I can lie in writing and still get paid? What if I can lie in writing and get paid more than if I didn’t lie?

    ‘Deontology’ doesn’t come from the Greek for ‘bank balance’…

  6. 6
    amk says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    who will fact check the fact checkers.

    His own people did it. And gave him the fucking Pinocchios or whatever fuck the trivialization caricature is.

    he might as well close up shop.


  7. 7
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Okay, I had to look up deontology to find out that it’s the study of ethics.

    But you have a point. I’ve heard that everyone has a price, you just have to haggle over the numbers.

    I don’t think that anyone has ever tried to buy me off. Maybe my feelings should be hurt. :-)

  8. 8
    cathyx says:

    Does everybody have a price? I’ve never been in that situation to know if I do or not, but I hope I don’t.

  9. 9
    dubo says:

    All you need to know about Kessler is contained in this horrible self-aggrandizing quote:

    At the bottom of the page, the Obama campaign displays a “Fact Checkers Report.” Three quotes are listed, by The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, and Ezra Klein of The Washington Post.
    Let’s take a look at who the Obama campaign cites as “fact checkers” — and what various actual fact checking organizations have said about this claim.
    The Obama campaign web page is cleverly worded to make it appear as if “independent fact checkers” support the claim that spending has grown slower under Obama than any president since Eisenhower. Fact checkers have certainly found fault with the claims made by the Romney campaign about Obama’s spending, but we have also all disputed the analysis touted by the Obama campaign.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. And while campaigns love to cite fact-checking organizations, that does not give them license to anoint a supportive columnist as a “fact checker.”

    Preznit cannot decide what is a “fact check”! Only I, Glenn Kessler, Arbiter of Truth, may decide who has the authority to do a fact check!

  10. 10
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I’ve always said that in Washington, if you don’t have conflicts of interest, it’s just because you’re not important enough yet.

    Sort of the same thing.

  11. 11
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @dubo: It’s more middle-worship — in a very pernicious package. If both sides hate me, I must be right.

  12. 12
    Todd says:

    Look up Kessler’s bio, if you want to see the genesis of a completely amoral douchebag.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    We’re back to “It’s not a conflict-of-interest because it doesn’t conflict with any of my interests.”

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Kessler is irredeemable Rethuglican scum.

    Bring a tumbrel on for the SOB.

  15. 15
    middlewest says:

    If you focus on the same period, Mitt Romney has never strapped a dog to the roof of his car. We’re going to need more Pinocchios.

  16. 16
    geg6 says:


    Jeebus. What a raving gigantic fucking asshole. But it really is a pretty pure distillation of the Village ethos, is it not? Every day I feel more and more Madame deFarge. I never expected to get more radical as I aged. But I think I am.

  17. 17
    Cap'n Swag says:

    What a dogshit taco of a “fact check” that is. Kessler is clearly looking for back pats and attaboys from the wingnutosphere, which is the only explanation when you’re basically echoing what a Romney spokesperson is saying.

    I think we have an early front-runner for Alex Pareene’s hack rankings. Kessler and McArdle are the LSU-Alabama of dumbfuckery in punditry.

  18. 18
    Cap'n Swag says:

    One last thought on these idiotic “fact checkers”: where in the blue fuck were they 12 years ago when Republicans were allowed to smear, denigrate, mock and create the narrative that Al Gore claimed he created the Internet? The audacity of these dipshits to sit around and provide cover for Romney’s abhorrent business practices because he was a “passive partner” is so utterly ridiculous that I’m about to chuck my computer through the window.

  19. 19
    Cassidy says:

    OT: Did anyone else get the email from MoveOn asking to “vote” on whether they’d donate to Obama? Are those idiots for real?

  20. 20
    scav says:

    Is all this down to using the wrong definition. Fact-checking as in body-checking?

  21. 21
    smintheus says:

    The WaPo editorial page regularly ignores what its own news pages have reported and its own opinion polls have found. Kessler is just another twit opinionator.

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @cathyx: Of course everyone has a price. It might not be monetary – it could be your family, your health, or something like that. You just need the right leverage.

  23. 23
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Opinions are like assholes and Kessler is proudly showing us that his asshole has been sold to the highest bidder.

  24. 24
    Geeno says:

    It seems that fact checking is rather like coat checking. You’re leaving the facts elsewhere to pick up later.

  25. 25
    Kane says:

    Isn’t Kessler the same guy who claimed that the Ryan plan wasn’t technically destroying Medicare as we know it because it would still bear the name of Medicare?

  26. 26
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Cassidy: Are there any ‘yes’ votes yet? After all, those are the real Democrats, the base.

  27. 27
    HRA says:


    Yes, they are for real and they are not Republican wingnuts or any other description of a Republican. They are Democrats who are out to destroy the Obama re-election. So far I believe there are 2 with different interests in this desire. They are the Clinton supporters of ’08 except for Ted Strickland and the ones who are for their own monetary interests.

  28. 28
    Cassidy says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I haven’t looked and deleted it in disgust. Next MoveOn email I get gets put into the spam filter.

    @HRA: Fools. All of them. I’m sure the summit of their “ideals” will be reached under a Mittens presidency.

  29. 29
    smintheus says:

    @dubo: Yes, it’s all about Kessler’s desire to be important rather than the actual facts in question. Clearly he wears it as a badge of honor that he’s regularly lambasted by both left and right wingers, as if that were some kind of fact-check on his checking of facts. The fact that people on “both sides” complain about his work means that he doesn’t need to take their criticisms seriously. So he’s made the job all about his own self-image.

    Went to college with him; twit then, twit now.

  30. 30
    smintheus says:

    @Kane: Same guy. He deals in truthiness.

  31. 31
    shortstop says:

    I never subscribed to MoveOn and, despite my many instructions to unsubscribe me, they won’t leave my inbox. I think of them as a small dog grabbing my foot and hanging on as I move about my business.

  32. 32
    becca says:

    Kessler sees the world thru Royal Dutch Shell Oil scion eyes. Myopic.

  33. 33
    Allan says:

    Twitter profile:

    Veteran diplomatic correspondent in a new role as The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, revealing the truth behind the rhetoric.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

  34. 34
    Valdivia says:

    Question–does anyone take Kessler seriously? I mean since Mitt lies constantly and gets called out but he keeps lying why would anyone care if he calls Obama’s true statements lies since it seems not to matter a wit in campaigning?

  35. 35
    Allan says:


    The results are in! 91.07% of us want to endorse the President.
    Will you chip in for a huge campaign to win?

    So send us your money, even though we make no explicit promise anywhere on the page that any of it will go directly toward the reelection of Barack Obama!


  36. 36
    catclub says:

    @MattF: re: conflict of interest.

    A judge has been given a $15k bribe by one side and a $10k bribe by the others. He calls the lawyers into his office, returns $5k to side A, and tells them, “This way I can decide the case on the merits.”

  37. 37
    catclub says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: I like the poster from Demotivators: Leaders are like Eagles: We don’t have many of either around here.

  38. 38
    catclub says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Aung San Suu Kyi’s was apparently: actual improvements in Burma for other people than her.

  39. 39
    Weaselone says:

    Using his criteria, you could give a liar, liar pants on fire score to the claim that the Bush Administration invaded Iraq. Just limit your examination to the period following the actual invasion. Then argue semantics by offering up some piffle about how Bush and his cabinet never showed up in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley carrying rifles and wearing body armor.

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Someone once tried to bribe me.
    I told him he didn’t have enough money. He was highly insulted. Asked me how I could possibly know how much money he had.(He didn’t get the idea the first rejection) I told him if he had enough money to bribe me he would be offshore powerboat racing instead of motorcycle racing.

    For those not in the know the cost difference would be something like 10,000 to one. Or more.

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Um, doesn’t every year that doesn’t really count when assessing Romney also reduce his favorite qualification to be president by a year?

  42. 42
    LosGatosCA says:


    More like cross-checking, without time in the penalty box.

    These people simply have no shame, they are on a mission from Money, and ‘checking facts’ is just a shtick to serve their paymaster.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    Everyone has a price. Every. One.

    Fortunately for the world most of us are either so cheap or too expensive to purchase.
    If you are too cheap then you get bought off easily and don’t cause much bother.
    If you are too expensive then few buy you and you don’t cause much trouble.

    Unfortunately we have people in the media and politics right now who are being bought off by people with more that enough money to go offshore powerboat racing. Or anything else they decide to do. Right now the money ratio of buyers to bought is so off kilter that the buyer is spending nothing and the seller is giving away everything.

  44. 44
    Keith says:

    Something else that bothers me about Kessler’s arguments – he wants to create this window of time when Romney headed Bain and consider everything else off-limits. But IIRC, isn’t Romney collecting checks from Bain – *millions* of dollars per year – to this day? He may not be running the company, but the man has to have some kind of influence there if they’re paying him more money than I will every make in my entire career…this year.

  45. 45
    Roy G. says:

    Hmmmm, just like Dick Cheney and his Halliburton stock – nothing to see here folks!

  46. 46
    different-church-lady says:

    Mitt Romney’s held one political office in 2002-2006. If that’s “ancient history” then there’s no way his Bain experience is even relevant.

    To a modern “journalist” ancient history is anything that’s not on his Twitter feed.

  47. 47
    different-church-lady says:

    We discovered that Romney’s name appeared on Bain SEC filings between 1999 and 2002. But a 2002 statement the former executive filed with the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission said he was a “passive, limited partner [with] no management capacity” in the Bain entities in which he held ownership.

    Isn’t this a bit of a problem for Rom, considering he’s spending so much time telling us he’s qualified to be president because he did such a great job at Bain?

  48. 48
    catclub says:

    Why is a journalist treated like a misbehaving athlete:

    ‘…some incendiary comments about Mitt Romney, says his future at the political news organization is “unclear.” “At this point my suspension without pay is still indefinite, and I don’t know what management has in mind as an appropriate sanction, so I can’t object or appeal,” Williams told TPM’

  49. 49
    Hurling Dervish says:

    @Linda Featheringill: @Southern Beale: Totally right, he was despised. And lest anyone blubber about how he was a Repub in Taxachusetts, it should be pointed out that he was so despised, he ended 16 years of Republican rule. His Republican allies in the Senate were run out on the rails and he fled before the voters could get their hands on him. And then he went around the country bad mouthing the state.

  50. 50
    grandpajohn says:

    @Ruckus: The real tragedy is that our government has for the most part, always been that way. Mark Twain sa\w it in his time and unfortunately it is still the same or worse

    QUOTATION: The low level which commercial morality has reached in America is deplorable. We have humble God fearing Christian men among us who will stoop to do things for a million dollars that they ought not to be willing to do for less than 2 millions. ATTRIBUTION: Mark Twain

    QUOTATION: Nothing incites to money-crimes like great poverty or great wealth. ATTRIBUTION: Mark Twain

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