WaPo’s Glenn Kessler Releases His ‘Biggest Pinocchios’ of 2014


Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler released his annual “biggest Pinocchios” of 2014 this week, and Mediaite is here to give you a roundup of Kessler’s selections for the biggest lies in politics. And unlike PolitiFact’s “lie of the year,” which was announced on Monday, Kessler doesn’t choose just one.

2014 was an election year, so many of the most egregious lies came from campaign advertisements. In addition, the political issues that dominated the headlines — Obamacare, ISIS, and Ebola — were all included in Kessler’s roundup of the biggest lies. Here are some of the most notable pinocchios.

President Obama: I didn’t say ISIS was a “JV team”

In an interview with The New Yorker in January, President Barack Obama referred to resurgent forces in Iraq who had just taken over Fallujah as a “JV team” — meaning they were not a threat. As it turned out, ISIS began its rise this year and many critics said President Obama underestimated the entire situation, pointing to that specific comment. The White House dismissed the criticisms and said the president was not “specifically” referring to ISIS when dismissing the potential of the militants who had taken over Fallujah. But, as Kessler notes, “it’s clear that’s who the president was referencing” — ISIS. President Obama later acknowledged in September that ISIS is not, in fact, a “JV team.”

Rand Paul: John McCain met with Islamic State terrorists

Last year, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) met with Syrian rebel forces and had a well-publicized photo-op with some of them. In an interview with The Daily Beast in September, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that some of the rebels with whom McCain posed for photos were, unknowingly to him, Islamic State militants. Kessler said that claim was simply an Internet rumor and is absolutely false, adding, “there are days when we regret we are limited to just Four Pinocchios.”

Alison Lundergan Grimes: “Mitch McConnell took $600,000 from anti-coal groups”

In a campaign ad, Sen. Mitch McConnell‘s (R-Ky.) Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes accused McConnell of taking $600,000 from anti-coal groups. As Kessler notes, that claim had already received four pinocchios, and amounted to a “desperate effort” on Grimes’s part, who ended up losing the coal counties anyway.

Exaggerations of Obamacare Numbers

As open enrollment periods gained steam following the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act, some Democrats said there were more enrollees than there actually were. For example, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in February that 10 million Americans gained insurance coverage through the law — but, as Kessler notes, the number was closer to about 4 million at the time. In addition, President Obama said 7 million Americans now have access to healthcare through Medicaid expansion, but Kessler says that estimate is “way off,” no matter what factual estimate is used.

Republicans were not strangers to the Obamacare exaggerations, either. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said there is a “net loss” of people with health insurance as a result of Obamcare. However there is actually a net gain in the millions.

Democrats: Republicans Are to Blame for Budget Cuts to Ebola Research

In the run-up to the midterm elections, many Democrats rallied around the idea that Republicans instituted budget cuts that impeded the nation’s ability to respond properly to Ebola outbreaks. Kessler simply notes: “But Obama’s Republican predecessor oversaw big increases in public-health sector spending, and Democrats and Republicans in recent years have broadly supported efforts to rein in federal spending. In some years, Congress has allocated more money for agencies fighting Ebola than the Obama administration had requested.”

You can read Kessler’s entire analysis here. Kessler also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning to discuss his choices for “biggest pinocchios.” You can watch that video below, via MSNBC:

[Featured image via screengrab]

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