If the State of the Union is the political version of Christmas, then the fact-checking that follows is Boxing Day. This year is no different; news outlets and bloggers combed through President Obama's speech Wednesday night, scouring records to separate fact from fiction.
Of course, that doesn't mean they always agree. Fact-checks from the AP, Politifact, ABC and NPR see eye to eye on a few big things: that Obama hasn't hired anyone with lobbyist ties (false); that the Supreme Court decision will allow foreign corporation to directly support candidates (partially false); and that the spending freeze will save $1 trillion over the next decade (false).
- AP declares Obama's al-Qaeda contention unprovable: "It is an impossible claim to verify. Neither the Bush nor the Obama administration has published enemy body counts, particularly those targeted by armed drones in the Pakistan-Afghan border region."
- PolitiFact writes a detailed rebuttal of Obama's remarks on the Citizens United case, arguing he "overstated" the claim that foreign corporation will be able to directly influence American elections.
Obama was correct that the ruling could open the door to foreign companies spending on American campaigns, given the general direction of the majority's opinion. But because the majority justices didn't actually strike down the existing barriers on foreign companies -- in fact, they explicitly wrote that it fell beyond the boundaries of their decision -- our experts agreed that Obama erred by suggesting that the issue is settled law. Until test cases proceed and further rulings are handed down, Obama's claim about foreign campaign spending is a reasonable interpretation, and nothing more.
- ABC argues Obama's job-creation figures are part truth, part fiction. "The White House projects that the stimulus has helped "save or create" 2 million jobs, a number not too far from that estimated by the CBO," writes Huma Khan. "But the figures that the president was citing for workers and teachers are from a different assessment. Those numbers are determined based on responses from recipients of the stimulus money, and those haven't always been accurate."
- NPR calls on David Welna, its Congressional correspondent, to debunk the claim that the spending freeze can net $1 trillion. "You'd have to do that for many, many, many years to get to $1 trillion," Welna says. "If this policy were kept in place for 10 years, you might get to $250 billion. He's not going to get anywhere close to making up the $1 trillion."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.