As exposure through New Media begins the long overdue death of the influence of the DC Media’s phony fact-checking racket, we should probably thank the left-wing PolitiFact for putting another nail in its own coffin. Once again, in a desperate bid to dig President Obama out of a deep hole of his own making, PolitiFact has put truth and its own integrity aside to rate as “True” Obama’s absurd claim last week that ISIS is “contained.”
Under the PunditFact vertical, Lauren Carroll and Linda Qiu wrote this particular fact check. And the fact that this required two authors proves just how difficult it can be to carry Obama’s water.
Let’s start with the exchange in question, between Obama and former-Clinton operative-turned ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos:
Obama: “I think what is true is that this has always been a multiyear project precisely because the governance structures in the Sunni areas of Iraq are weak, and there are none in Syria. And we don’t have ground forces there in sufficient numbers to simply march into Al-Raqqah in Syria and clean the whole place out. And as a consequence, we’ve always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL’s capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing at the same time as we’re putting a political track together in Syria and fortifying the best impulses in Baghdad so that we can, not just win militarily, but also win by improving governance.”
Stephanopoulos: “And that’s the strategy you’ve been following. But ISIS is gaining strength, aren’t they?”
Obama: “Well, no, I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”
PolitiFact’s rationalization for rating this as true is a wonder to behold. When you are reading this, keep in mind that this is the same brazenly partisan PolitiFact that rated a joke told by Ted Cruz as “false“:
When Obama said “we have contained them,” it’s within a plainly defined scope: ISIS’s territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria. This context is bolstered by the fact that Stephanopoulos asks Obama about the ground efforts in those two countries.
I’ll let you finishing laughing…
PolitiFact’s transparent sleight-of-hand comes from basing its “True” rating — not on the question Obama is asked — but how the President chose to answer it.
Stephanopoulos asks, “But ISIS is gaining strength aren’t they?”
That is not a question about territory gained or lost. That is a question about the overall strength of this particular Islamic terrorist organization. In answer to that general question, Obama chose to answer this way:
“Well, no, I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them.”
To legitimize his answer, Obama moves the discussion to the issue of territory, which was not what Stephanopoulos asked about:
“They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures.”
Back to PolitiFact’s rationalization:
He wasn’t saying, as critics have shorthanded, that ISIS no longer presents a threat — an assertion that the Paris attacks would have negated.
This is a straw man. No one is saying Obama claimed ISIS “no longer presents itself as a threat.” To defend the Precious, PolitiFact has to invent arguments no one is making.
In fact, in the same interview, Obama acknowledged that ISIS might have surpassed al-Qaida as the greatest terror threat in the world, adding that they are constantly looking for “a crack in the system” to exploit to carry out attacks. “I think that one of the challenges of these international terrorist organizations is that they don’t have to have a huge amount of personnel,” Obama said.
This is PolitiFact at its most duplicitous. Here is what Obama said to Stephanopoulos that they do not want you to know — that ISIS “continues to shrink in it scope of operations.”
Until Assad is no longer a lightning rod for Sunnis in Syria and the entire region is no longer a proxy war for Shia-Sunni conflict, we’re gunna continue to have problems. … with making sure that ISIL continues to shrink in its scope of operations until it no longer poses the kind of threat that it does, not just primarily to us, but to neighbors in the region[.]”
Obama’s clear claim there is that when it comes to the international war ISIS is fighting throughout the world — note how he mentions America — the terrorist group’s “scope of operations … continues to shrink.”
A few hours later, Obama’s happy talk would be proven tragically wrong.
Watch the video of the exchange for yourself. Like he did just a few days before the 2012 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Obama is spreading false happy talk about how the War on Terror is going. He’s lying or incompetent, and events continue to prove that.
But when you have the partisan serial-fraudsters at PolitiFact ready to sacrifice their own credibility at the foot of your alter, you can say whatever you want.
Whether it is the Washington Post’s fraud fact-checker or PolitiFact, the goal is the same: use every rhetorical trick to call Republicans liars and to get Democrats off the hook — and by extension, cut off any line of attack against them.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC