UPDATE: Subsequent to this piece being published, PolitiFact reconsidered its partnership with Grayson, and cancelled their agreement. You can read their statement here.
In a move that will assuredly raise some eyebrows (if not howling laughter), PolitiFact (a Pulitzer Prize winning political fact-checking organization) has named former Democratic congressman Alan Grayson as a “reader advocate” to their website. The move, as described in a press release by executive director Aaron Sharockman, is designed to “try and improve trust and credibility in fact-checking.”
David Jolly, a former Republican congressman, will join the fray as Grayson’s GOP counterpart, with the two men being given a platform from which to critique PolitiFact’s conclusions on various political claims.
Those familiar with Grayson might be tempted to write off this “experiment” as a tongue-in-cheek publicity stunt, but according to Sharockman, it is being funded through a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a non-profit group whose stated goal is to “foster informed and engaged communities.”
So no, this isn’t being done purely for entertainment purposes. PolitiFact, which prides itself on being the largest fact-checking organization in the United States (and again, a Pulitzer winner), actually brought on Alan Grayson to serve as a truth consultant.
Why is this so strange? Well, let’s just say that Grayson has a well-documented history of saying things that have not only called into question his capacity for telling the truth, but also his sanity. Below are some highlights.
In 2009, when the country was assessing the merits of President Obama’s healthcare plans, Grayson took it upon himself to present the “Republicans’ healthcare plan for America”:
“‘Don’t get sick.’ That’s right — don’t get sick. If you have insurance, don’t get sick; if you don’t have insurance, don’t get sick; if you’re sick, don’t get sick — just don’t get sick! That’s what the Republicans have in mind for you, America. That’s the Republicans’ health care plan. But I think that the Republicans understand that that plan isn’t always going to work — it’s not a foolproof plan. So the Republicans have a backup plan, in case you do get sick. If you get sick in America, this is what the Republicans want you to do. If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: ‘Die quickly.’ That’s right. The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.”
When called upon to apologize for the inflammatory remarks, Grayson said:
“I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.”
Grayson went on to create a website named NamesOfTheDead.com, which listed the names of individuals who had supposedly died because they didn’t have health insurance.
Some of the folks on this list: Lassie Martin (aka Lassie the Dog from the 1950s television show), Norma Jeane Mortenson of Los Angeles, CA (aka Marilyn Monroe), Steve Rogers of New York, NY (Captain America), and everyone’s favorite, Wile E. Coyote of Sedona, AZ.
In 2010, Grayson ran an ad against political opponent Dan Webster, calling him “Taliban Dan” and claiming that Webster believes wives should submit to their husbands. This included a video clip of Webster supposedly saying of his wife, “she should submit to me.”
As it turned out, however, the unedited video showed Webster reading the sentence from a Bible passage, and cautioning husbands not to take the passage as their own. In other words, precisely the opposite of what Grayson claimed.
On former Vice President Dick Cheney, Grayson had this to say:
“By the way, I have trouble listening to what [Cheney] says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking, but my response is this: he’s just angry because the president doesn’t shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?”
On the Tea Party:
“Many people, improperly, lump together libertarians and the Tea Parties. That’s really wrong. Many of the libertarians are physicists, and many of the Tea Party people don’t bathe. There’s really not much in common there.”
“That is the ultimate Tea Party Republican desire, to bring about the End of Days. The Republican Party has become the largest suicide pact in history. And I hope they don’t take us with them.”
Additionally, Grayson has compared the Tea Party to the KKK on numerous occasions.
On the politics of division:
“For Paul Ryan or any other Republican to talk about this, to talk about the president inciting the politics of division is much like O.J. saying he’s going to devote his life to finding the real killer. They’re the real killers.”
On President George W. Bush’s decision not to join President Obama to commemorate Bin Laden’s death at ground zero:
“I suspect that President Bush might have been passed out drunk the last three or four days, so I‘m not sure he made any conscious decision at all.”
So, let’s just say that Mr. Grayson has what some people might refer to as “a bit of a credibility problem.”
But hey, it’s PolitiFact’s reputation and the Knight Foundation’s money that’s at stake. If both are to be wasted, that’s their right.
God Bless America.