Fact Spell-Check: WaPo Watchdog Defends Obama's Failure to Attend Intel Briefs

Fact Spell-Check: WaPo Watchdog Defends Obama's Failure to Attend Intel Briefs

Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post “Fact-Checker” gave three Pinocchios Monday to the claim that President Obama has attended less than half (43.8 percent) of his Presidential Daily Briefs (PDB) on intelligence, a claim Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen made based off a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute.

Yet Mr. Kessler (pictured above) never once disputes the numbers the Government Accountability Institute reported. Indeed, he can’t. 

The figures used to tabulate Mr. Obama’s PDB attendance came from Politico’s White House calendar, roundly regarded as the most comprehensive keeping of the President’s daily schedule. Instead, Mr. Kessler says that because past presidents have received their daily intelligence briefings on paper, no one should care that Mr. Obama does the same via iPad. 

The difference, of course, is that America is at war. Moreover, as Jim Geraghty of National Review and Marc Thiessen of the Washington Post point out, live briefings afford a Commander-in-Chief the opportunity to challenge assumptions and drill deeper into potential threats. 

In the wake of the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American members of his staff, Mr. Obama now apparently agrees that live briefings are better than paper or iPad briefings. Indeed, for the last seven days straight, Mr. Obama has received his Presidential Daily Briefing in person. The last time Mr. Obama took his PDB seven days in a row was in February, a fact Mr. Kessler curiously fails to mention. That raises an important question: if live briefings are no better than intelligence briefings on paper, why then has Mr. Obama gone to in-person briefings all the sudden?

Embarrassingly, Mr. Kessler’s “fact-check” also misspelled the topic he was fact-checking three times in a single article. Thrice, Mr. Kessler referred to the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) as the “PBD,” or Presidential Briefs Daily. To be sure, everyone is prone to the occasional typographical error; however, it’s a humorous irony that the “fact-checker” apparently didn’t scrutinize his own piece closely enough to catch the inaccuracy.

Nevertheless, Mr. Kessler’s attempt to label as “bogus” Mr. Obama’s failure to attend over half of his Presidential Daily Briefs on intelligence cannot change this fact: in the five days leading up to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the murder of Ambassador Stevens and his three staff members, Mr. Obama’s own official White House calendar shows no record of the president attending his daily briefing. What’s more, we now know that the “the U.S. State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert,” and the Ambassador’s own diary reveals he was worried about Benghazi security.

No, Mr. Kessler’s real beef, it seems, is with a devastating new ad by American Crossroads that utilizes these facts to portray Obama’s as an “empty chair” presidency.

The mainstream media may not like the facts, but that doesn’t change them.  


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