Fact-checking the factcheckers on Ryan’s speech; Update: “As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville”

posted at 10:01 am on August 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Seems like fact checkers need to do some fact checking of their own assumptions.  Paul Ryan’s speech last night included a reference to a GM plant in Janesville that closed, which Ryan used to criticize Barack Obama for failing to meet his campaign promises.  A number of “fact” checkers jumped all over Ryan’s anecdote to claim that he lied about the circumstances of the plant’s closure.  We’ll just take one example, from the AP’s “fact’ check:

RYAN: Said Obama misled people in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., by making them think a General Motors plant there threatened with closure could be saved. “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: `I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.”

THE FACTS: The plant halted production in December 2008, weeks before Obama took office and well before he enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and allowed the majority of their plants – though not the Janesville facility – to stay in operation. Ryan himself voted for an auto bailout under President George W. Bush that was designed to help GM, but he was a vocal critic of the one pushed through by Obama that has been widely credited with revitalizing both GM and Chrysler.

Actually, those “facts” aren’t quite accurate, either.  As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported in September of last year — long before Ryan got added to the ticket — the Janesville plant got shut down in 2009, after being notified of their pending closure in December 2008:

General Motors Co. has committed to reopen its idled plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., and keep its shuttered assembly plant in Janesville on standby status.

The commitment to the former Saturn plant in Tennessee was part of a contract settlement reached late last week between GM and the United Auto Workers union.

Since they were shut down in 2009, both the Janesville and Tennessee plants have been on standby status, meaning they were not producing vehicles, but they were not completely shut down. …

The Janesville plant stopped production of SUVs in 2008 and was idled in 2009 after it completed production of medium-duty trucks.

Remaining on standby means not much has changed in Janesville. Community leaders say they would be ready if the GM plant reopened, but no one seems to be counting on that.

Production continued into 2009 on trucks — and into April, as this local TV report from April 2009 shows, courtesy of our good friend Morgen Richmond:

Clearly, the job of “fact checker” in the mainstream media must not involve research skills.  Nor does it take much in comprehension, because these supposed fact checks started with a misrepresentation of what Ryan actually said.  Here are his actual words, emphasis mine:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

Ryan acknowledged that the plant had already been slated for shutdown in 2008.  That was his point.  People voted for him because they thought Obama represented hope to get the plant back in operation.   In fact, that had been known since at least February 2008, when Obama came to Janesville to speak, and specifically addressed the plant closure in his remarksdelivered at the plant itself — and promised to keep it and other plants like it open “for the next hundred years” (emphasis mine):

It was nearly a century ago that the first tractor rolled off the assembly line at this plant.  The achievement didn’t just create a product to sell or profits for General Motors. It led to a shared prosperity enjoyed by all of Janesville.  Homes and businesses began to sprout up along Milwaukee and Main Streets.  Jobs were plentiful, with wages that could raise a family and benefits you could count on.

Prosperity hasn’t always come easily.  The plant shut down for a period during the height of the Depression, and major shifts in production have been required to meet the changing times.  Tractors became automobiles.  Automobiles became artillery shells.  SUVs are becoming hybrids as we speak, and the cost of transition has always been greatest for the workers and their families.

But through hard times and good, great challenge and great change, the promise of Janesville has been the promise of America – that our prosperity can and must be the tide that lifts every boat; that we rise or fall as one nation; that our economy is strongest when our middle-class grows and opportunity is spread as widely as possible.  And when it’s not – when opportunity is uneven or unequal – it is our responsibility to restore balance, and fairness, and keep that promise alive for the next generation.  That is the responsibility we face right now, and that is the responsibility I intend to meet as President of the United States. …

Those are the steps we can take to ease the cost crisis facing working families.  But we still need to make sure that families are working.  We need to maintain our competitive edge in a global by ensuring that plants like this one stay open for another hundred years, and shuttered factories re-open as new industries that promise new jobs.  And we need to put more Americans to work doing jobs that need to be done right here in America.

That’s the promise that Barack Obama failed to deliver — even when the government took ownership of GM.  Ryan had it exactly right, and the fact checkers have made a mockery of their own profession by stepping all over their own biases to refute Ryan.

Update: Guy Benson goes after more “fact checks” of Ryan’s speech from Team Obama.

Update II: More from Reason’s Shikha Dalmia, noting that the Janesville plant was actually one of the choices to keep open when Obama extended the automaker bailout:

Here’s what GazetteXtra.com, a Janesville paper, reported on Feb 2, 2009:

Full-size sport utility vehicle production has ended at the local General Motors plant, but medium-duty truck production is continuing—not starting—in Janesville.

And it likely will continue into May, when the lights finally go off in the facility that has been producing vehicles since 1923.

When GM officials announced last June that SUV production would cease in Janesville, they also said that medium-duty truck production would conclude by the end of 2009, or sooner if market conditions dictate.

What’s more, the administration actually did consider keeping the Janesville plant alive after it nationalized GM by commandeering the bankruptcy process. According to Shepardson’s story:

In June 2009, GM considered three sites to locate a small car: its Orion plant in Michigan; Janesville, Wis.; and a Spring Hill, Tenn., plant slated to close in November. GM picked Orion and later reopened Spring Hill.

Now why would Obama choose to close the only plant he had actively “suggested” he’d keep open? Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that it was in Ryan’s (Republican) hometown? Just askin…

I believe the retrofit costs would have been higher in Janesville, which is why the plant wasn’t chosen — but it’s clear that the plant wasn’t closed under Bush, and that Obama had an opportunity to make good on his promise.

Update III: BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski finds this promise from Barack Obama in June 2008, after the notice went out that the plant would shut down over the next several months, emphasis mine:

“Reports that the GM plant I visited in Janesville may shut down sooner than expected are a painful reminder of the tough economic times facing working families across this country. This news is also a reminder that Washington needs to finally live up to its promise to help our automakers compete in our global economy. As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and all across America.” Source: media.gazettextra.com  /  via:uppermichiganssource.com

Sounds like a promise — and it certainly did to the people of Janesville.  Will the “fact” checkers fact-check themselves now?


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Er, make that “There was a bill written by Barney Franks’ staffers in early-December 2008…”.

Steve Eggleston on August 30, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Sounds like a promise — and it certainly did to the people of Janesville. Will the “fact” checkers fact-check themselves now?

um, No.

(but you already knew that)

Tim_CA on August 30, 2012 at 12:50 PM

As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow

Yup with each person allowed one recycled cabbage a year to drive the danged things, made for one and a half petite folks without baggage.

Don L on August 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM

But you are first assuming that Obama meant any of his promise to keep the plant open. That’s a bad assumption. He said it to pander for votes. He didn’t give a crap about anything but bailing out the UAW once he was elected.

rockmom on August 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM

I didn’t assume that. Putting the property on the bankruptcy auction block would potentially allow somebody else to come in and either open up shop in the 90-some-year-old building or (more likely) redevelop the property, both of which would actually create jobs.

Keeping title on a stripped-out hulk, especially given Janesville lost out twice on the hope of Government Motors reopening the plant, is a clear sign the ObamiNation wants that to remain a stripped-out hulk.

Steve Eggleston on August 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Now that the “Fact checkers say Ryan lied” meme has been thoroughly demolished by Obama’s comment that he would lead an effort to retool plants like the one at Janesville, they will say that when he used the work “like” he meant “similar to”, but not the actual Janesville plant itself.

Reno_Dave on August 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM

buridan on August 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM

It appears our newest John Hurt isn’t satisfied to just sit in his cube, furiously churning out AP Fact Check articles.

MNHawk on August 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Mystery guest alert!
Could be Clint. But we have not heard from Colin Powell for, what, a year? I am putting my money on Colin Powell coming in taking names and kicking ass.

jake49 on August 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

RINO alert!

Don L on August 30, 2012 at 12:58 PM

they will say that when he used the work “like” he meant “similar to”, but not the actual Janesville plant itself.

Reno_Dave on August 30, 2012 at 12:56 PM

A composite. :)

Axe on August 30, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Good point on this one. Now what about all the other piles of horsecrap in Ryan’s speech?

Like that fact that Ryan’s budget takes the same $700 million from Medicare?

sob0728 on August 30, 2012 at 1:04 PM

BS: 1. Medicare claims – any Ryan’s plans will do the same things to Medicare as Obamacare did, just redirect the money differently.

Back into the medicare trust fund and not handouts to private insurance companies via ObamaCare. Read the plan. The Obamacare cuts are in there because they are existing law. That’s how budgeting works.

2. Bowles-Simpson comission. Ryan (unlike Coburn) did everything to make sure there will be no recommendation.

Prove it.

3. US credit rating – that’s from the guy who voted for TARP (pushed the congressional GOP into it, in fact), Medicare part B etc.

buridan on August 30, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Worse deficits under Obama, by far.

Chuck Schick on August 30, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I actually went to the link and read this story.

Sally Cohn makes her case by parroting MSNBC points, then jamming FACT in front of them, as if that is the last word.

Someone really needs to TWEET or email her just the FACTS about that factory in Janesville and wait for the retraction.

Then, email her handlers at Fox and ask them to PLEASE have their contributors do just a little more due diligence tnah MSNBC.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/30/paul-ryans-speech-in-three-words/?cmpid=prn_aol&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D199269

Really?

Tenwheeler on August 30, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Obozo lied again?

Gee, good thing I was sitting down when I read that.

KMC1 on August 30, 2012 at 1:07 PM

http://news.yahoo.com/fact-check-ryan-takes-factual-shortcuts-speech-070905927.html

Yahoo News / Associated Press going after Ryan.

Does anyone have a link to the actual story that they could add to the comments section over there?

PappyD61 on August 30, 2012 at 1:09 PM

2. Bowles-Simpson comission. Ryan (unlike Coburn) did everything to make sure there will be no recommendation.

Prove it.

Voting for the report were Bowles, Coburn, Conrad, Crapo, Cote, Durbin, Fudge, Gregg, Rivlin, Simpson, and Spratt. Voting against were Baucus, Becerra, Camp, Hensarling, Ryan, Schakowsky and Stern.

It was 3 votes short (needed 14 votes), and the House GOP (Camp, Hensarling, Ryan) votes were decisive. They did not want to go along with Coburn and Gregg, and so they let Obama off the hook.

buridan on August 30, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Is Florah Duh around.. Has this fact checking frenzy palooza turned into a tweeting war yet…haven’t had the chance to check my twitter account today…is axelturd and andrea sau
exchanging angry tweets with millios of rtweets or something..

jimver on August 30, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Listening with your ears helps.

If you’re directing that to liberals, good luck with that, Ed.

kim roy on August 30, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The Associated Press has degenerated into a cabal of lying leftist hacks.

This one was just easy to catch. But remember how brazen this lie is, how easy it would have to find the truth with a search engine, the next time to see an “AP” under a headline from around the world, and view the report with skepticism.

If they will lie about this, which is so easily verified, think how they will lie to us about matters we cannot quickly check for ourselves.

Adjoran on August 30, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Now where did Drywall go? He was so adamant that Ryan lied, and HA was a co-conspirator.

Been kinda quiet lately.

Maybe tearing down those O’Butthead posters on his bedroom ceiling?

ICanSeeNovFromMyHouse on August 30, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Dave…when are you going to back up your baseless accusations that this post is a “detachment” from reality??????

….let’s go….quit running from your post……back up your drivel.

Prove the newspapers,television,and GM wrong by proving that this plant “CLOSED” before Obama became President.

Baxter Greene on August 30, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Sorry Baxter, Dave has no intention of actually backing up anything he says with genuinely documented facts, Dave KNOWS that he is lying and he knows that the only thing he can do is continue lying and to claim that everyone is is lying and delusional.

SWalker on August 30, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Is this drywall part of a dormant cell of something….are the axelturds in total meltdown that they decided to activate theirsleeper cells from……canada, of all places :) … drywall is a known mythomaniac who claimed numerous times on HA that he used to be a Canadian MP or MPP or something :)..they must be really desperate to send this pathetic troll into to the ‘war’…he’s .been mocked here many times for his blatant lies…

jimver on August 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

No.

I disagree with Hotair’s ludicrous detachment form reality on the plant closing.

It’s obfuscation, re-finger pointing and desperate koolaid drinking at its finest.

Dave Rywall on August 30, 2012 at 10:20 AM

No, it’s about Obama making a promise (or lie) on the campaign trail in order to pander.

F are you ever stupid. Are you denying what Obama said?

It closed after he made a PROMISE. Let me repeat that a PROMISE which he did not fulfill.

Now go away, roadkill. Your stale flop sweat does not interest us.

kim roy on August 30, 2012 at 1:22 PM

The Associated Press has degenerated into a cabal of lying leftist hacks.

This one was just easy to catch. But remember how brazen this lie is, how easy it would have to find the truth with a search engine, the next time to see an “AP” under a headline from around the world, and view the report with skepticism.

If they will lie about this, which is so easily verified, think how they will lie to us about matters we cannot quickly check for ourselves.

Adjoran on August 30, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Indeed, but then do ‘t forget that it’s not that easy to spread lies and to demagogue with impunity in this day and age…for every lie and ‘fact checked’ by the LSM that they put out there, there will be hundreds of thousands of twitter and FB rebuttals and responses, and this back and forth is enough to create doubt and raise questions in the minds of people who othewise woud have relied entirelyon the skewed LSM info….

jimver on August 30, 2012 at 1:24 PM

——-

Bush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_Stimulus_Act_of_2008

Bush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Economic_Stabilization_Act_of_2008

Welcome to responsibility. You’re struggling with it, I see.

Dave Rywall on August 30, 2012 at 10:45 AM

What’s that got to do with a broken Obama promise, fool?

The goalposts they be a moving. #FAIL.

kim roy on August 30, 2012 at 1:28 PM

I was not a huge Palin fan, but her speach was better delivered and way more impressive. Also, it had maybe one or two embellishments, and Ryan’s speach was 80% bs.
I realize it’s all about using free airtime, and bs is a fair game, but I don’t understand all the excitement about a very ordinary DC insider spouting slogans.

buridan on August 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Well, I loved Palin’s speech in ’08 and thought it set a new standard, but I would argue that Ryan’s speech transcended that.

It went beyond just “good” delivery–clarity, well-written speech, etc. There was a kind of earnestness–and urgency–conveyed that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. When a kind of “speechiness” is surpassed and real, honest communication kicks in, you know you have something special. That’s what I saw in Ryan last night. Palin had that also, but I felt that Ryan’s speech was even more artfully crafted.

I am a Palinista and believe Sarah’s “red neck” accent has done more to turn off Independents and Dems, from really listening to her..i.e. my hubbie.

She should have gotten that “fixed” a few years back with a speech coach.

If Sarah spoke like Condi or Governor Martinez or Ann Romney, all accent free, I believe her cache would have increased to the moon and back.

Typicalwhitewoman on August 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM

The “tool” that needs the most retooling is Barack Obama.

NoPain on August 30, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Crap….I quoted to much. This is what I wanted to say.
-
-
-

I am a Palinista and believe Sarah’s “red neck” accent has done more to turn off Independents and Dems, from really listening to her..i.e. my hubbie.

She should have gotten that “fixed” a few years back with a speech coach.

If Sarah spoke like Condi or Governor Martinez or Ann Romney, all accent free, I believe her cache would have increased to the moon and back.
Typicalwhitewoman
on August 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Typicalwhitewoman on August 30, 2012 at 1:32 PM

No.

It’s obfuscation, re-finger pointing and desperate koolaid drinking at its finest.

Dave Rywall on August 30, 2012 at 10:20 AM

You have just described the nature of your troll work here, it’s almost identical to your job description only a bit sketchy on details….wunderbar!!! Now, off you go, your pseudologia fantastica disorder has run wild, mr Canadian MP or MPP :) …oups, I forgot to ask, are you running that shadow parliament of yours from your momma’s basement ?? :)

jimver on August 30, 2012 at 1:43 PM

There is no excuse for the way CNN acted last night. I have never seen more blatant lying and rewording of someone’s speech as I saw last night.

I have seen a few glimmers of the old CNN recently, but now it is pure propaganda.

I don’t even bother with MSNBC anymore.

It is a shame to lose news stations, but CNN must go.

petunia on August 30, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Don’t remind me..Piers morgn especially was unhinged, batshit crazy, I almosf wondered if there had been a brain transplant involved there, from schultz and/or o’donnel (who funnily enough were quite tame last night) to Piers…he was jumping crazy all over the place, trying hard to do an upbeat-Piers-who-is-having-fun-at-the-gop-convention impersonation…the most disgusting part was when he tried to tie ryan to akin, if you can imagine, while interviewing michelle bachmann….but then he tried to be cute about ti and put a humorous spin on it all, guess he realized how far he went and that bachmann won’t have it….michelle bachmann was such a good sport, I’d have slapped that bastage…

jimver on August 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM

If Sarah spoke like Condi or Governor Martinez or Ann Romney, all accent free, I believe her cache would have increased to the moon and back.
Typicalwhitewoman on August 30, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Cachet.

Minus the accent Sarah would be as highly
regarded in the media as Condi?

PaleoRider on August 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM

When Republicans go after Democrats with the truth, the only thing their media allies can do is lie to cover for the Democrats. It won’t help. The American people know that plants like this one have closed down all over the country since Obama became president.

Terrye on August 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM

If only the lefty nuts would fight our foreign enemies with the same ruthless, vile, Alinsky “the end justifies the means” tactics and lies they fight their fellow Americans with…Could you imagine what the psycho Jihadi’s would do if they saw the Code Pink crazies coming at them dressed as giant pink vaginas?

Strike Hornet on August 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

If only the lefty nuts would fight our foreign enemies with the same ruthless, vile, Alinsky “the end justifies the means” tactics and lies they fight their fellow Americans with…Could you imagine what the psycho Jihadi’s would do if they saw the Code Pink crazies coming at them dressed as giant pink vaginas?

Strike Hornet on August 30, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Um, they would probably think they had successfully arrived in Paradise.

pianomomma on August 30, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Um, they would probably think they had successfully arrived in Paradise.

pianomomma on August 30, 2012 at 3:55 PM

So, they would think they were dead…perfect! UNLEASH THE VAGINAS!!!!!!

Strike Hornet on August 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Leftist Liars.

They will make falling on a sword, an art form.

FlaMurph on August 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM

If the facts do not support Obama’s re-election effort, then they are not real facts!

That’s the Fact Check motto.

profitsbeard on August 30, 2012 at 5:02 PM

It is a shame to lose news stations, but CNN must go.

petunia on August 30, 2012 at 11:06 AM

I wouldn’t usually consider CNN a news station, any more than MSNBC.

talkingpoints on August 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Some long winded and desperate sounding hair splitting here.
It remains that going after Obama on the auto industry maybe isn’t the best argument for Romney,Ryan et al.
But of course, that won’t stop you.

verbaluce on August 30, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Hey Y’all, I don’t know about you but the past few days have reminded me of what a funk or worse I have been in for the past four years. We have been seeing and listening to: OBummer; Moosechelle; Pelosi; Ried; Gibbs; Carney; Biden; and you can finish the list. Not a pleasant word from any and only ways to bring America down.

NOW compare this:

Christie; Ryan; Condi; Salazar; Kaisich; Condi; Pawlenty; W and the older statesman his father; The former two first ladies; Ann Romney; Mia Love; and this list goes on……Oh my what a difference.

First time in four years I been uplifted and once again felt as an American. It is coming back folks…. Hard to believe the hell we have been in…. and tonight… The Mittster followed by:

Make my Day punk…… what a great finish… Go America and compare!!

highninside on August 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

verbaloon on August 30, 2012 at 5:26 PM

“I’m Barack O’bama, and I approve this message.”

Del Dolemonte on August 30, 2012 at 5:50 PM

“Clearly, the job of “fact checker” in the mainstream media must not involve research skills.”

Clearly…

Seven Percent Solution on August 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM

The job of “fact checker” in the MSM is the same as the job of most of the rest of the MSM – leftist propaganda.

Merovign on August 30, 2012 at 7:05 PM

“Ryan lies while black people drown”
MSM

Strike Hornet on August 30, 2012 at 7:13 PM

I’ve had to post a link to this article I don’t know how many times today to get people to wake up!

usedtobeinmich on August 30, 2012 at 8:33 PM

I feel bad for the poor exploited foreign GM worker. Someone needs to organize those people because they should make what US GM workers make.

Buddahpundit on August 30, 2012 at 9:31 PM

Dave Rywall is so used to Obama ruling by dictatorial decree that he forgets that the “Stimulus Act” had to be passed by a Democrat controlled Congress which included Barack. Sorry, David, F in basic civics.

SDN on August 30, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Out of masochistic curiosity I tuned in to NPR yestersay to see how they would cover the convention. After watching the Ryan speech, I was wondering if they found some hidden racism or class warfare fodder. NPR reported, AS FACT, that this plant closed before Obama took office and also mischaracterized Ryan’s remarks. In fact, they did such a good job of it, that I actually was pissed at Ryan for distorting these facts when there are so many legitimate examples he could have used.

Lesson learned! Beware of the dark side! I won’t be tuning in to NPR to listen for the retraction.

essequam on August 31, 2012 at 6:45 AM

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