Today's installment of Stupid Fact Checks again goes after PolitiFact, this time on two items in one "fact check." First, the web site's Louis Jacobson claims that Michelle Obama couldn't possibly have been talking about the Clintons on August 12, 2007 when she told an audience about the importance of a First Family serving as a "role model" in the White House. It's obvious to any human without blinders that she was.
Second, Jacobson claims that he doesn't remember "'vicious' attack ads from Obama during the 2008 campaign." That's because he didn't look very hard, if at all.
Concerning Item 1, in August of 2007 Mrs. Obama's husband Barack was running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination against Hillary Clinton. At a "Women for Obama" even on the South Side of Chicago, Mrs. Obama said the following: "If you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House." Obviously, she was passive-aggressively targeting the Clintons and their tumultuous White House years in this statement.
Here is the video snip from the speech involved, as reported by Chicago's WBBM-TV. Anyone who sees even a poor-resolution version of the video from that event can hear that the audience understood where Mrs. Obama was coming from, and can see her relishing the attack line as she is about to deliver it:
TV ANCHOR: Campaigning in Chicago, Michelle Obama today told women why her husband should be the next President of the United States.
MICHELLE OBAMA: One of the things, the important aspects of this race, is role modeling what good families should look like. (audience begins clapping)
And my view, is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. Can't do it! (audience yells its approval)
TV ANCHOR: Michelle Obama returned to her South Side roots to host a "Women for Obama" event in the Grand Ballroom on Cottage Grove.
The fact that leftist outlets made excuses for Mrs. Obama at the time doesn't change what our eyes can see and what our ears heard.
When she referred to "what good families should look like," her audience totally understood that Mrs. Obama was telling them what they already knew: that the Clintons aren't "what good families should look like." Hence the groundswell of applause which began when she said it.
Mrs. Obama's stridency in her "in my view" statement also betrayed the fact that she wasn't describing good vs. bad role modeling in general, but that she wanted the audience to compare her family to the Clintons.
That didn't stop PolitiFact's Jacobson from pretending otherwise. Since he couldn't argue with the words said in the video, he had to crib from a subsequent speech to justify his wrong position. After showing her August 12 comment, he went to what she said a few days later:
Donald Trump off-base in claim about Michelle Obama ad against Hillary Clinton
... Michelle Obama made a similar comment on the stump during a visit to Atlantic, Iowa. Here’s what she said:
"One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is (he) a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don't care. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that's why we're doing this. We're in this race for not just our children, but all of our children."
... Barack Obama rejected that interpretation, saying in a conference call with reporters that "there was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through."
Oh please. Where's Mrs. Obama's reference to the Bushes?
As to Barack Obama's "rejection," this is what passive-aggressive people like the Obamas do when they want to land a blow and pretend that they didn't even throw a punch if they get caught. As noted, the women-only audience in Chicago totally understood what Mrs. Obama was saying and to whom it was being directed.
Michelle Obama made her Iowa statement four days after her South Side of Chicago appearance on August 16, 2007 with her husband present. Anyone who understands how deeply Mrs. Obama upset the people in Hillary Clinton's camp and in the Democratic Party establishment would understand that the entire purpose of the Iowa statement was to explain away what she had said four days earlier, sealing the recovery by making sure to bring up what had originally been an attack line in a different context. But Louis Jacobson, and the leftist outlets which made excuses for Michelle Obama at the time, think we're too stupid to recognize something so obvious.
Beyond that, Jacobson is criticizing a Trump debate statement which contains two elements, and pretends it only has one:
"I've gotten to see the commercials that they did on you," Trump said. "And I've gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I've ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary."
This assertion caught us off-guard, since Michelle Obama has campaigned vigorously for Clinton in this election cycle, including a high-profile speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. We didn’t remember "vicious" attack ads from Obama during the 2008 campaign, either.
Trump is making two statements. He's at fault in the second in his reference to "commercials" with "Michelle Obama" instead of "a speech statement made by Michelle Obama" — though to be clear, since "The Trump campaign didn’t respond to an inquiry for this article," his campaign may have other examples they can cite which Politifact couldn't find, or which Obama PACs and not his campaign may have run.
But Trump was absolutely right in his first statement which is about what "they did" (either the Obamas or the Obama campaign, take your pick), and it is clearly separate from his first. Politifact's strange inability to find things which refute its points includes "the (radio) commercials that they (the Obama campaign) did on you (Hillary Clinton)" in South Carolina in 2008.
This one, which since it was obviously run more than once represents "commercials," certainly qualifies as "vicious":
NARRATOR: It's what's wrong with politics today. Hillary Clinton will say anything to get elected.
Now she's making false attacks on Barack Obama.
The Washington Post says "Clinton isn't telling the truth."
She championed NAFTA, even though it has cost South Carolina thousands of jobs. And worst of all, it was Hillary Clinton who voted for George Bush's war in Iraq.
Hillary Clinton, she'll say anything, and do nothing. It's time to turn the page.
Trump reminded everyone of this ad just four months ago. Where were you, Louis?
Overall, Jacobson gave Trump a flat "False." Trump deserved a "Mostly True."
The GOP nominee was right that Michelle Obama attacked the Clintons (Jacobson, who only directly referred to the second speech to give himself some deceptive cover, wrote: "We will leave it to readers to decide which interpretation [pride in family or attacking the Clintons] is closest to the mark)". But he was wrong in saying that the attack appeared in "ads," because it was in a speech. That's right on substance, wrong in form. At worst, he was half-right and half-wrong.
But Trump was absolutely right that the Obama campaign viciously attacked Hillary Clinton in "commercials" at certain critical times during the 2008 primary, ads Jacobson claimed not to remember.
The makes Jacobson, who attempted to pile on by claiming that Trump was really remembering his own current ads instead of Obama's from eight years ago (give me a flipping break), at least 75 percent wrong — which is why his effort qualifies as a Stupid Fact Check.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.