Welcome to Whopper of the Week: Damage Control edition.
It's been a rough week for the White House. First, there was the ongoing investigation into the administration's explanations about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Then, the Internal Revenue Service admitted it had been targeting Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. And then it was revealed that the Justice Department had obtained the phone records of The Associated Press - and possibly others - to unmask the journalists' sources.
So what has the administration's response been? A lot of stretching of facts to deflect blame.
That's why we're awarding the Obama administration the Whopper of the Week, a distinction handed out by the Washington Guardian to examples of backpedalling, stretched facts and misstatements from politicians.
During a press conference Monday (with British Prime Minister David Cameron), President Barack Obama made it clear that he called the Benghazi attacks what they were: terrorist acts.
“The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism," Obama told a reporter.
Except the language the president used last September wasn't quite that strong. He described the events as an "act of terror" and used more generalized statements such as "“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation."
Then there was this exchange with 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft, the day after the attacks happened.
Kroft: "Mr. President, this morning you went out of your way to avoid the use of the word ‘terrorism’ in connection with the Libya attack."
Kroft: "Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?"
Obama: "Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other."
The president did eventually call the attacks a terrorist act, but it wasn't immediately afterwards as he would like people to believe. To a certain extent, it's splitting hairs of language, but it can be an important distinction.
The words and tone that U.S. officials used following the attack can show a lot about what they believed was happening, what they knew and therefore how they responded.
The administration also tried to distance itself from the actions of the IRS. Both Obama and his press secretary Jay Carney called the IRS an "independent agency," a telltale sign they're trying to show the White House had no roll in the scandal.
But the IRS isn't as separate from the executive branch as some might make it out to be. The IRS commissioner is a presidential appointee, confirmed by the Senate. And the agency answers to the Treasury Secretary, another presidential appointee.
Interestingly enough, the U.S. government keeps a list of "Independent Agencies and Government Corporations." The IRS is not on it.
"It's all good," rapper M.C. Hammer famously said, and that's something the U.S. Agency for International Development appears to believe about the country's reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.
But watchdogs ranging from the Government Accountability Office to the special inspector general for Afghanistan present a much more critical picture of the agency's efforts, especially when it comes to how it handles its own operations.
The US Agency for International Development is seeing the good, sometimes ignoring the bad, in Afghanistan
There's an old adage in the news media: "Get it first, but first get it right." This past week, in the 24/7 coverage of the Boston terrorist bombing, some reporters flipped that adage on its head.
That's why we are using the latest Whopper of the Week, normally reserved for the mistruths of political leaders, to highlight news reporting by The Associated Press, CNN the New York Post and others that failed to serve the public interest.
Sometimes the truth tellers are the ones who stick their feet in their mouths
Spring is in the air inside the nation's capital, and unfortunately so are some misleading statements from politicians.
Vice President Joe Biden, for example, waxed poetic about the National Rifle Association's support for gun purchase background checks during the 1990's - support he exaggerated. And Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that expanding Medicare will worsen health care options for poor, a statement not backed up by the studies he cites.
VP Biden incorrectly said the NRA has been supportive of background checks in the past, while Sen. Cruz said Medicaid can make healthcare worse
It's politically fashionable now to say you've helped reduce the nation's debt. And at nearly $1 trillion annually, there's a lot of debt to be reduced.
But during a speech this week on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that over the past two years the government has reduced the deficit by $2.5 trillion - almost double the amount the deficit is right now.
Senate leader says trillions in debt reduction has already taken place, when really it's projected over the next 10 years
The Republicans and Democrats unveiled their budgets in Congress this week. And though they say numbers don't lie, some of their rhetoric stretches the truth.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for example, claimed the Democrats are planning $1.5 trillion in tax hikes.
“And then there’s the Democrats’ $1.5 trillion tax hike. Trillion with a T,” McConnell said during a speech on the Senate floor. “Let me just repeat that: Any senator who votes for that budget is voting for a $1.5 trillion tax hike, the largest in the history of our country.”
GOP leaders overstate Democrats' proposed tax increases and understate their own plan's reliance on tax hikes