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Fact Checkers Ding Obama And Biden For Some Spinning

Vice President Biden and President Obama wave to the delegates Thursday night at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Robyn Beck
AFP/Getty Images
Vice President Biden and President Obama wave to the delegates Thursday night at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

"We heard some facts being spun" Thursday night when President Obama and Vice President Biden gave their acceptance speeches at the Democratic National Convention, report the watchdogs at

They and other independent fact checkers have compiled, just as they did at last week's Republican National Convention, a list of those things said by the two parties' standard bearers that don't quite add up or may give misleading impressions.

Our colleague Mark Stencel has already gone through one story told several times Thursday — about President Obama's mother and the struggles she had with her insurance company as she was dying of cancer. He concludes that the president and other speakers "did not specify that the insurance issue was her disability claim, not her health coverage as the story still suggests to many listeners."

As for what the watchdogs are saying, here's a sampling:

-- FactCheck begins its report by noting that Obama "boasted that his plan would cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, citing 'independent experts.' But one such analyst called a key element of the plan a 'gimmick.' "

It takes issue with Biden for quoting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as saying "it's not worth moving heaven and earth" to catch Osama bin Laden. "Actually," FactCheck writes, "Romney said he would target more than just 'one person.' "

Biden also gets knocked for saying Romney "believes it's OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000." Actually, FactCheck writes, Romney "promises to lower middle-class taxes."

And FactCheck notes that when the president quoted Romney as saying it was "tragic" to "end the war in Iraq," he didn't mention that "Romney was criticizing was the pace of Obama's troop withdrawal, not ending a war."

-- The Associated Press kicks off its fact-checking by writing that "President Barack Obama laid claim to a peace dividend that doesn't exist when he told the nation he wants to use money saved by ending wars to build highways, schools and bridges. The wars were largely financed by borrowing, so there is no ready pile of cash to be diverted to anything else."

The AP also takes issue with a figure cited by Biden and many others — that "after the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we've created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months." The wire service notes that:

"This seems to be a favorite statistic, because many speakers at the convention cited it. But it's misleading — a figure that counts jobs from when the recession reached its trough and employment began to grow again. It excludes jobs lost earlier in Obama's term, and masks the fact that joblessness overall has risen over Obama's term so far. ... Overall, some 7.5 million jobs were lost during the recession that began in December 2007 in President George W. Bush's term and ended officially in June 2009 with Obama as president."

-- PolitiFact isn't accusing the president of any whoppers. It gives him a "half true" rating for saying that he's got a plan that "independent analysis" has said will cut the deficit by $4 trillion. But, says PolitiFact: "We found that the 'independent' source that supports that claim is a liberal think tank. Another group, one that puts a premium on deficit reduction, gives the president credit for moving in the right direction but thinks he won't get as far as he says he will. They think the president's plan might get close to the $3 trillion mark, but not $4 trillion."

PolitiFact gives Obama a "mostly true" rating for his line that because Romney referred to Russia as the nation's No. 1 enemy, the GOP nominee is "still stuck in a Cold War mind warp." According to PolitiFact:

"Romney didn't use those exact words, but he did refer to Russia as 'without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.' He said the Russians 'fight for every cause for the world's worst actors' in a CNN interview. In a later interview, however, Romney softened his language, this time calling Russia our 'No. 1 adversary' in terms of U.N. votes and emphasized it's not an enemy of the kind launching missiles at American shores."

-- The Washington Post's The Fact Checker is taking issue with Biden for charging that Romney was willing to "let Detroit [the automakers, that is] go bankrupt." The Fact Checker writes that:

"This statement is drawn from a headline — 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt' — on an opinion article written by Romney for The New York Times. But he did not say that in the article.

"In the article, Romney argued that if the automakers 'get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won't go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.'

"As Romney put it, 'Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.' "

All the posts we've done about what the fact checkers said during the conventions are collected here. Or, you can click on these headlines:

-- Retell Politics: Story About Obama's Mother Gets Another Look.

-- Clinton And Other Dems Did Some Cherry-Picking, Fact Checkers Say.

-- Democrats Unleashed Some 'Dubious Or Misleading Claims,' Fact Checkers Say.

-- Fact Checkers Ding Romney On A Few Familiar Points.

-- Janesville Debate: Dissecting Ryan's Claim, Obama's 'Promise' & The Facts.

-- Fact Checkers Say Some Of Ryan's Claims Don't Add Up.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.