Check the Fact Checker
Posted December 19, 2011
Compare two passages from the Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler.
“… the biggest stretch in all of these figures is the biggest number: the 118,000 ‘spin-off’ jobs that supposedly would be created from building the pipeline.”
“Some readers might wonder how helping the unemployed manages to create any new jobs. That’s because the unemployed must still pay rent, buy food and so forth. The money they receive from the government thus helps keep other Americans in their jobs.”
OK, so in “A” Kessler sounds dubious, skeptical and dismissive of jobs that could stem from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. When you say something is a “stretch,” you’re saying it’s distorted, either intentionally or accidentally. You can virtually see Kessler’s eyes rolling when he writes that these Keystone XL jobs “supposedly” would be created.
In “B” the fact checker is instructing, educating, patient. To Kessler, unemployment disbursements have positive effect as people use the money to meet various obligations while putting food on their tables. Dare we say, an “induced” effect?
It seems that when induced jobs are used to justify government spending, the Washington Post steps up to educate readers. But when talking about induced jobs from private infrastructure investment – in this case the shovel-ready Keystone XL pipeline – the jobs figure is called a “stretch” and those jobs’ larger economic benefit is dismissed. Here’s the point: Even a dogged fact checker has his or her filters.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.
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