“Obama’s Palace Guard,” Mark Hemingway’s Weekly Standard cover story exposing fact-checkers for willful complicity in the gutting of welfare reform, is a must read for anyone who cares about the state of the news media—and for those who plan to watch, cover, or participate in the presidential debates.
Hemingway meticulously details the checkosphere’s studied indifference—with rare exceptions—to the plain facts. In 4,000 words, he lays bare the media fact-checkers’ almost comical avoidance of the one expert who could help them understand how the Obama Administration is dismantling “workfare”: The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, who helped write the work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law and just published his latest paper on the outrage.
PolitiFact, Hemingway concludes, came off as more interested in consulting liberal critics of welfare reform and dismissing Rector, conservatives in Congress, and Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) for daring to suggest the left would want to undo the workfare program it opposed from the start:
PolitiFact said [Rector’s] concerns should be dismissed for no other reason than they are at odds with the Obama administration’s spin. PolitiFact didn’t even address the fact that Rector … was the source of the charge the Obama administration is gutting welfare reform or that he helped write the welfare reform law.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler gets some credit from Hemingway for awarding Bill Clinton two out of four “Pinocchios” for stretching the truth in his speech defending Obama’s move to administratively undo welfare reform.
Hemingway underlines one fact that you wouldn’t know from the fact checkers: “Key personnel under [Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius at HHS have a lengthy track record of opposing the 1996 welfare reform.” Among them: Doug Steiger and Mark Greenberg, both deputy assistant HHS secretaries, and Sharon Parrott, a policy counselor to Sebelius. He also notes that besides Rector, fact checkers ignored congressional staffers on the right who are experts on the issue: Nat Weidinger in the House and Becky Shipp in the Senate.
To keep track of Heritage’s research and analysis regarding the gutting of welfare reform, bookmark this Welfare Reform page.