PolitiFact obfuscates on President Obama’s Rose Garden speech

Earlier today I read a fine fact check by Glenn Kessler of President Obama’s claims about Libya from the second presidential debate.  And a few minutes ago I read the PolitiFact version.



Some have parsed Obama’s remarks and argued he didn’t say the Benghazi attack was specifically an act of terror. However, given the overall context of his comments, it seems a fair conclusion that he considered “acts of terror” to apply to Benghazi.


PolitiFact’s Jon Greenberg is blowing some smoke.  It’s probably no coincidence that Greenberg mentions no specifics from the context that support his claim.  The fact is that in four instances where the president refers specifically to the attacks in Benghazi the term “terror” and its permutations do not occur.  As we pointed out in our debate fact check of Obama’s claim, Mr. Obama uses “acts of terror” in the context of the remembrance of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.  It’s a natural interpretation to think Obama did not class the Benghazi attacks as acts of terror in that speech.  One can call natural interpretation “parsing,” but that term carries the connotation that the one doing the parsing is the one trying to do something other than normal interpretation.


Parsing is also used, usually with negative connotation, to describe the over-analysis of a person’s remarks, or a portion thereof, for the purpose of discerning meaning which was not intended. It may also refer to a close inspection of a statement to separate its literal meaning from the initial impression it conveys.



It’s Greenberg who’s parsing the Rose Garden  speech to recommend a less natural interpretation.  Greenberg calls it “a fair conclusion.”  It’s a “fair conclusion” in the sense we described:  It is charitable to interpret the Rose Garden speech as calling the Benghazi attack one of the “acts of terror” the president mentioned.


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