Washington Post’s biggest Pinocchios of 2013

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Check out Glenn Kessler’s top picks for biggest Pinocchios of 2013 and post your thoughts in the comments!

The biggest Pinocchios of 2013

By Glenn Kessler, Washington Post

It’s time for our annual round-up of the biggest Pinocchios of the year. This was not a presidential election year, so in some ways the subjects that needed to be fact checked were more substantive. In reviewing The Fact Checker’s more than 200 columns in the past year, we found an interesting evolution from statistics about gun violence to claims about President Obama’s health-care law. Our general rule of thumb held: the more complex a subject is, the more tempted politicians are to make misleading claims.

President Obama ended up with three of the most misleading claims of the year. But, despite the urging of some readers, his statement that “I didn’t set a red line” on Syria is not among them. We had looked closely at that claim and had determined that, in context, it was a bungled talking point, so that statement actually earned no rating.
As always, that and other rulings were met with vehement objections from some readers. The Fact Checker thanks the readers who have offered thoughtful rebuttals to our conclusions. In some cases, in light of new information, we adjusted Pinocchio ratings.

In compiling this list, we primarily focused on claims that had earned four Pinocchios during the year. We also tried to focus on issues of broad interest, such as gun control, health care and the size of government. To keep it simple, we have shortened the quotes in the headlines. To read the full column, click on the link embedded in the quote.

“If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.”

This memorable promise by President Obama backfired on him when the Affordable Care Act went into effect and millions of Americans started receiving cancellation notices. As we explained, part of the reason for so many cancellations is because of an unusually early (March 23, 2o10) cut-off date for grandfathering plans — and because of tight regulations written by the administration. This was our most popular fact check of the year — and Obama’s pledge also was also named PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year.”

“Obama’s kids are protected by armed guards at their school”

The National Rifle Association, in a tough television ad on gun-control measures and in a longer four-minute video presentation, highlighted what it saw as “elitist” hypocrisy by Obama because his children are “protected by armed guards at their school.” While the law requires the president’s children to have Secret Service protection, the ad clearly referred to armed security guards at Sidwell Friends School. But the guards there do not carry guns, so the ad was based on a false premise.

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