AP Defends Decision To Fact-Check Bill Clinton Using Monica Lewinsky

FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2008, file photo, former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denve
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2008, file photo, former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The way Democrats and Republicans treat their ex-presidents at convention time reflects each man's personal popularity and also how well he's weathered changes in party politics. It helps to be a dynamite speaker, too. Clinton scores on all three: his speeches are rousing, if long; his popularity extends to coveted independent voters; and his centrist appeal plays well across today's Democratic Party. It's no wonder that Democrats are have forgiven, if not forgotten, that business about Monica Lewinsky and impeachment that seemed to have permanently marred his presidency as it ended a dozen years ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Associated Press defended its invoking of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in a Thursday fact-check of former President Bill Clinton's speech, amid criticism of its relevance to a point Clinton was making about welfare. During his Wednesday night speech, Clinton criticized a Romney campaign ad for falsely suggesting that the Obama administration has ended work requirements for people on welfare and noted that a Romney pollster recently said their campaign would not be "dictated by fact-checkers."

"Now that is true," Clinton said. "I couldn't have said it better myself -- I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad."

The AP responded with what the news organization considers "the facts."

THE FACTS: Clinton, who famously finger-wagged a denial on national television about his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky and was subsequently impeached in the House on a perjury charge, has had his own uncomfortable moments over telling the truth. "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Clinton told television viewers. Later, after he was forced to testify to a grand jury, Clinton said his statements were "legally accurate" but also allowed that he "misled people, including even my wife."

The AP's fact-check -- which attracted criticism Thursday from The Atlantic Wire, The Nation, ThinkProgress and others -- suggests that because Clinton lied in the late 1990s, he isn't justified in calling out another politician or campaign for producing an ad that's untrue.

Mike Oreskes, senior managing editor for U.S. news at the AP, responded to a question about the relevance of the Lewinsky reference in a statement to The Huffington Post.

"The reference was not about that woman, Miss Lewinsky," Oreskes said. "It was about facts. Clinton challenged the Republicans for their attitude toward facts. We were simply pointing out that as president Clinton had his own challenges in this area."

The AP took heat from conservatives last Thursday for its fact-check of Paul Ryan's speech during the Republican National Convention. At the time, Oreskes told The Huffington Post that "when we do it to one candidate, the people who support that candidate feel their candidate's been singled out." And he noted that the AP would be "doing it with the Democrats" this week.



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