Fact-Checking the Sunday Shows, May 18
By Aaron Sharockman
Karl Rove’s comments this month about a concussion suffered by Hillary Clinton in 2012 bled over into the Sunday news shows, where pundits debated what Rove said and what Rove meant.
Rove was quoted in the New York Post last week saying Clinton spent 30 days in the hospital (she did not), “And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?” (They are not.)
Rove himself appeared on Fox News Sunday to defend his comment.
“I’m not questioning her health,” he said. “What I’m questioning is whether or not it’s a done deal if she’s running. And she would not be a human if she did not take this into consideration. She’ll be 69 at the time of the 2016 election. If she gets elected and serves two terms, she’ll be 77.”
Fox political analyst Brit Hume sided with Rove and said the media “overlooked” telling comments made by former President Bill Clinton last week about his wife.
While Bill Clinton’s quip that Republicans thought Hillary Clinton is auditioning for a part on The Walking Dead “was reported everywhere,” Hume said, “the part where he said that she underwent what I guess was six months of physical therapy to recover from the concussion, a ‘terrible concussion,’ was new news. And of course, it was widely overlooked.”
Hume’s claim that the media overlooked Bill Clinton’s substantive comments rates False.
Fox News aired an interview segment specifically about Clinton’s reference to six months and a terrible concussion but viewers of other channels got a similar message.
CBS News presented Clinton’s words in full.
“She certainly seems to have more stamina now and there’s nothing to it," Clinton said during a question-and-answer session with PBS’ Gwen Ifill. “I was sort of dumbfounded. They went to all this trouble to say she had staged what was a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over, something she never lowballed with the American people, never tried to pretend didn’t happen.”
NBC News, MSNBC and PBS all presented similar accounts. NBC Nightly News included Clinton’s quote during its broadcast as did PBS NewsHour. We also found mentions on CNN’s Out Front and MSNBC’s PoliticsNation and The Ed Show.
Ditto basically for major U.S. newspapers and wire services.
The Associated Press led with President Clinton’s reference to a long recovery. “Former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday his wife Hillary took six months to recover from a 2012 concussion, adding she is now ‘stronger than I am’ as he dismissed GOP strategist Karl Rove’s comments about her health,” the AP led with its story.
The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times all included Clinton’s quote, or at least mentioned it.
Ditto, too, for major online websites.
The liberal Huffington Post had a story with this headline: “Bill Clinton Insults Rove, But Acknowledges Hillary’s Health Is ‘Serious Issue.’” Politico also provided Clinton’s complete description in the third paragraph of its article.
On ABC’s This Week, California Gov. Jerry Brown poked at Republicans who don’t believe that man is causing global warming.
Host George Stephanopoulos asked Brown how he would try to manage a response to global warming, given skepticism among Republicans in Washington. Short answer: not easily.
“That’s a challenge,” Brown said. “It is true that there’s virtually no Republican who accepts the science that virtually is unanimous. I mean there is no scientific question. There’s just political denial for various reasons, best known to those people who are in denial.”
Brown then pivoted away from Washington to say that “we here in California are on the front lines, we’ve got to deal with it.”
Brown’s claim that “virtually no Republican” in Washington accepts climate change science rates Mostly True—mainly because most congressional Republicans avoid making a clear statement on the issue.
We found relatively few Republican members of Congress who say they accept the prevailing scientific conclusion that global warming is both real and man-made. Of the 278 Republicans currently in Congress, we identified eight (about 3 percent) that you could classify as believing man is causing climate change.
They are: Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.
Are there others? It’s possible. Not every member of Congress has taken a clear stance on climate change.
Former Rep. Jim Greenwood, R-Pa., told PolitiFact that the number of Republicans like himself who stand by climate change science has been shrinking in recent years, due to a more polarized Congress.
“There used to be a lot more of us,” said Greenwood, who serves on the board of directors for the National Audubon Society. “A lot of us were very green in our voting records. That has changed. I think it’s part of the phenomenon of the polarization of the Congress.”
The charged political climate makes finding clear positions on climate change from many Republicans tough to come by, say experts who follow the issue.
“Most Republicans say the same thing behind closed doors: ‘Of course, I get that the climate is changing, of course I get that we need to do something—but I need to get re-elected,’” Audubon Society President David Yarnold told the National Journal last year. “Somehow they’re going to have to find a safe place on this.”
Jon Greenberg and Julie Kliegman contributed to this report. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.