PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" nominees left out 2012's biggest lie

This week, PolitiFact came out with its list of “Lie of the Year” candidates. They include the following:

Largest tax increase: “Obamacare is . . . the largest tax increase in the history of the world.”
— Rush Limbaugh on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 in comments on his radio show
Pants on Fire

Abortion: Mitt Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.”
— Barack Obama on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 in a TV ad
Pants on Fire

Bain Capital: Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are to blame in a woman’s premature death when they closed the plant where her husband worked.
— Priorities USA Action on Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 in campaign ad

‘Likes to fire people’: When it comes to jobless workers, “Mitt Romney says he likes to fire people.”
— Jack Markell on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 in a speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Deficit blame: “Over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of” President George W. Bush’s policies and the recession.
— Barack Obama on Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes”

Jeeps in China: Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs.
— Mitt Romney on Monday, October 29th, 2012 in a television ad
Pants on Fire

In response to some missed examples of lies, Red Alert Politics came up with its own list, tweaked to be called “Liar of the Year.” Vice President Biden’s “chains” comment, David Axelrod’s defense of the Administration’s transparency over Libya, and Harry Reid’s claims about Romney’s alleged lack of taxation qualified these liberals for the dubious honor.

Earlier today, I threw my own opinion in the mix at Red Alert Politics, since I saw one egregious, influential example of a lie that PolitiFact had left out: the alleged War on Women.

…I think Adair and his staff missed the boat here. The ‘War on Women’ claim was indeed related to many policy claims. Politicus USA even provided a whole list of policy aspects of the ‘War on Women. Furthermore, the ‘War on Women’ was launched on January 20, 2012 by none other than President Obama when his Administration put out the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate, which is a policy. Prominent liberal pundits like Gail Collins then claimed religious opponents of the mandate were trying to force “their particular dogma on the larger public,” when in fact all the religious organizations wanted was the freedom to not engage in government-coerced action.

The false ‘War on Women’ claim that may have done the most damage to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 was Planned Parenthood’s assertion that Romney wanted to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood, when he was actually talking about federal funding for the organization. Romney was eventually forced to run an ad stating he is pro-choice, becoming possibly the first modern Republican candidate for President to run on a platform supporting abortion. He was also forced to declare in a debate that “[e]very woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

I also pointed out how the “War” impacted two Senate races, was prominent at the Democratic National Convention, and helped give Obama a critical lift with women on November 6. Its impact will also be felt in the future if the HHS Mandate (which, again, launched the alleged “War”) is not overturned, as the nation could see the loss of one-sixth of hospital beds and many adoption centers and schools as the Catholic Church closes operations in America.

To make sure I got the whole story, I spoke with PolitiFact editor Bill Adair, who told me why the “War on Women” didn’t make the cut:

“Lie of the Year comes from statements PolitiFact has rated ‘False’ or ‘Pants on Fire.’ We rate the ‘Lie of the Year’ as the boldest statement or the statement with the biggest reach. Obviously, it’s subjective,” he said. “We didn’t do a fact-check on a statement that there was a War on Women. It was an opinion, and we don’t fact-check opinions. People used it as a sum-up of a variety of aspects of the 2012 campaigns, but it was an overall opinion, not a statement of policy fact.”

I don’t know if PolitiFact’s liberal bias was coming through here, or if the staff just dropped the ball, but I’d say the policy statements and implications were pretty significant, as was the reach. And as Paul Wilson of the Media Research Center pointed out on Twitter, the “War” was even used as a pretext to oppose a ban on sex-selective abortions that was debated in Congress.

Every year, partisans attack or defend PolitiFact for its Lie of the Year. It’s become an annual pre-Christmas tradition. This year, I’m going to join in and say that the “War on Women” should  have at least made the Finals, if not been handed the dubious championship trophy.

Dustin Siggins is the principal blogger for the Tea Party Patriots, a national grassroots coalition with more than 3,500 local chapters. He is also a co-founder of LibertyUnyielding.com, and the author of a forthcoming book on the national debt. The opinions expressed are his own.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023