Explore Harvard's Nieman network Nieman Fellowships Nieman Lab Nieman Reports Nieman Storyboard

The Annenberg School’s FactCheck is still going strong

SHOWCASE | July 19, 2005

One recent item raises sharp questions about Bush’s regard for the facts in his speech to the nation from Fort Bragg.

By Barry Sussman



FactCheck, the Brooks Jackson/Annenberg School attempt to keep politicians honest during the 2004 election campaign, is still going strong. One of its recent efforts was a critique of President Bush’s televised speech at Fort Bragg on June 27 – and it raised some sharper questions about the accuracy of a number of Bush’s statements than I remember seeing in other news accounts.

The item, by Jackson and Jennifer Ernst, said that “throughout the speech Bush continually stated his opinions and conclusions as though they were facts, and he offered little specific evidence to support his assertions.”

As an example, Jackson and Ernst cite Bush’s statement, regarding terrorists in Iraq, that “they failed to break our coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war.”

The fact checkers point out, however, that “there have been withdrawals by allies. Spain pulled out its 1,300 soldiers in April, and Honduras brought home its 370 troops at the same time. The Philippines withdrew its 51 troops last summer to save the life of a Filipino hostage held captive for eight months in Iraq. Ukraine has already begun a phased pullout of its 1,650-person contingent, which the Defense Ministry intends to complete by the end of the year. Both the Netherlands and Italy have announced plans to withdraw their troops, and the Bulgarian parliament recently granted approval to bring home its 450 soldiers. Poland, supplying the third-largest contingent in the coalition after Italy's departure, has backed off a plan for full withdrawal of troops due to the success of Iraqi elections and talks with Condoleezza Rice, but the Polish Press Agency announced in June that the next troop rotation will have 200 fewer soldiers.”


“Bush is of course entitled to argue that these withdrawals don't constitute a ‘mass’ withdrawal, but an argument isn't equivalent to a fact,” Jackson and Ernst write.


Click here for the FactCheck.org home page.


The NiemanWatchdog.org website is no longer being updated. Watchdog stories have a new home in Nieman Reports.