WASHINGTON – One group of journalists has temporarily shed its cloak of impartiality to openly mourn Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she’s stepping down from Congress at the end of her term: fact checkers.
“She did keep the Truth-O-Meter busy,” said PolitiFact managing editor Bill Adair.
Of the 59 statements of Bachmann’s that PolitiFact checked (far more than statements from more powerful congressional leaders such as Rep. John Boehner or Sen. Harry Reid), a stunning 75 percent were rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, the group’s lowest rating.
MPR’s PoliGraph has a similar record in at least 18 checks of Bachmann’s statements.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler writes that Bachmann’s departure, “will leave the Capitol a much less interesting place to fact check.”
Kessler went on to say that Bachmann’s penchant for stretching and ignoring facts “provided a window into the no-holds-barred politics that has come to characterize modern-day Washington.”
Adair noted that Bachmann rose to prominence at the same time as fact checking sites such as PolitiFact began flexing their muscles. When asked whether Bachmann’s departure from Congress would mean layoffs at PolitiFact, Adair laughed.
“No, we’re actually filling a job here,” said Adair.
While fact checkers may not have deterred Bachmann, Adair said that overall, some politicians have come to fear that a False or Pants on Fire rating might come back to haunt them and have become more careful with their facts.
Fact checkers shouldn’t get too weepy about Bachmann’s decision to leave Congress for now. After all, she hasn’t ruled out running for other offices or shying away from politics altogether.
And there are 534 other members of Congress who keep saying things.