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Ninth Commandment Watch: Richard Land

July 22, 2011, 12:30 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

ten commandments.jpgWe’ve often featured fact-checks about misleading claims on this blog, but not all mistruths are created equal. As a new feature, we’re launching “Ninth Commandment Watch” for those false assertions that are so brazenly untrue that they cannot be excused as reasonable misunderstanding.

Translated in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible as “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” the commandment is a broad prohibition against lies, particularly ones about other people.

Our inaugural entry is a series of claims made by Richard Land this week on his radio show attacking President Obama for “living like a playboy.” Land’s evidence?

“His White House is more expensive than any other White House…He’s traveled more on Air Force One than any president in history in the comparable time period. And his wife’s White House staff has been increased by tenfold. She has tenfold more people working for her than any other first lady in history. And all these czars that he’s appointed, the White House administrative budget is higher than it’s been under any other president.”

Thankfully, Brian Kaylor EthicsDaily was quick to respond:

Earlier this month, FactCheck.org debunked the chain email claim that Obama has traveled more than any other president…The investigation found that Obama actually flew fewer missions and sorties than his immediate predecessor in the White House.

Politifact.com, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its political fact-checking reports, debunked the claim about Michelle Obama’s staff after Glenn Beck made the accusation back in February. The claim was rated as “Pants on Fire,” the worst rating a claim can receive. Politifact.com found that Michelle Obama’s staff was the same size as Laura Bush’s staff at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.

As for the claims about the so-called “czars,” FactCheck.org found that George W. Bush actually appointed more czars during his presidency than Barack Obama has appointed.

So where did Land even come up with these debunked arguments? Kaylor reports that they “have been circulated via emails and Glenn Beck.” Before making such charged yet verifiable accusations, Land really should do more due diligence.

Dr. Land’s recent bridge-building on issues like immigration reform and religious freedom for Muslim-Americans is admirable — and vital to moving those issues forward. In the interest of progress we hope Dr. Land is more careful with his facts — and his tongue — the next time around.

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