The Latest ‘Fact-Check’ Foolishness: NBC Goes After Critics of Obama’s Executive Orders on Guns

In my February-issue editor’s
, I lamented that “the fact-checking press gives the
president a pass,” in part by providing checks not “on the exercise
of power,” but rather “on the exercise of rhetoric.”

As if to illustrate my point,’s First Read had a
breaking fact-check earlier today not on the comments that
President Barack Obama has made regarding gun policy, particular in
regards to his
23 executive orders
on the topic, but rather the “sound
and fury
” of the president’s critics.

Conservative opponents of President Obama have called
him a “dictator,” a “tyrant,” “imperial,” for proposing executive
actions he believes would help prevent gun violence.

“President Obama is again abusing his power by imposing his
policies via executive fiat instead of allowing them to be debated
in Congress,” charged Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is
widely believed to be eyeing a 2016 White House run, in response to
the president’s announcement Wednesday.

But the 23 executive actions the president signed today do not
seem to go very far, as his critics suggest. In fact, most are
administrative – publishing letters, writing memos, and appointing

Remember when people gave a shit about this?It’s true: President Barack Obama is not a
“dictator.” It’s also true that NBC’s Domenico Montanaro did not
actually identify or link to anyone calling him one. The one
contestable Rubio claim is whether the president’s 23 gun-related
executive orders are examples of him “abusing his power,” a
judgment which strikes me as entirely within the eye of the
beholder. For example, prior to Obama’s inauguration, there were
many people–chief among them a politician named
Barack Obama
–who believed that George W. Bush’s extensive use
of executive orders and signing statements in and of
constituted an abuse of power.

Providing an accurate fact-check on such a subjective judgment
is much more of a fool’s errand than, say, insisting that a single
baseball statistic definitively determines who was the
most “valuable” player
in the American League last

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