Better Government Association says Obama didn't say fathers in the home is a solution to gun violence -- but he did
Sometimes the fact-checker needs a good fact-checking.
That's what Natalie J. Hoffer tried to do after she spotted an online Better Government Association article taking Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate, state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), to task for saying last month that now former President Barack Obama advocated "fathers in the home" as the solution to gun violence. The Better Government Association, which describes itself as "a full-service watchdog organization" that is "shining a light on government in Illinois and holding public officials accountable," rated Ives' comments as "false" on the Politifact Truth-O-Meter.
Except it isn't false. It just isn't.
Obama made that observation during a Feb. 15, 2013, speech in Chicago, where Better Government Association maintains its home office. And Hoffer has been trying to get Better Government Association's attention about it, according to her email exchange with the association, which was shared with Prairie State Wire.
Obama's 2013 speech is readily available for anyone to examine. NBC Chicago maintains the text of Obama's 2013 speech online, a link that Hoffer shared in her email with Better Government Association reporter Brett Chase, who wrote the "Politifact Truth-O-Meter" piece.
In his reply back to Hoffer, Chase thanked Hoffer for her "feedback" but stood by his story.
"I want you to know that we have our own rigorous process that involves substantial reporting, including interviews," Chase said in his reply to Hoffer.
"My research is then challenged by three editors who debate the findings word for word. We use a well-established system of analysis and each ruling is carefully defined. So, we didn't come to our conclusion haphazardly. We make certain that we're right before any fact check is published. Once again, I do enjoy hearing from our readers even if they don't agree with us."
Apparently, the Better Government Association's "rigorous process" didn't turn up this portion of Obama's 2013 speech, as quoted from the NBC Chicago-maintained text: "Now, that starts at home. There's no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families - which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood. (Applause.) Don’t get me wrong - as the son of a single mom, who gave everything she had to raise me with the help of my grandparents, I turned out okay. (Applause and laughter.) But - no, no, but I think it’s - so we’ve got single moms out here, they’re heroic in what they’re doing and we are so proud of them. (Applause.) But at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved. Loving, supportive parents - and, by the way, that’s all kinds of parents - that includes foster parents, and that includes grandparents, and extended families; it includes gay or straight parents. (Applause.)."
Audio and text of Obama's speech also is maintained online by AmericanRhetoric.com, which certifies its authenticity.
Obama's comments certainly were noticed at the time. CNS News, shortly after the then-president's speech, referred to the Obama's comments in a headline as "The President's Ghastly Gun Gaffe." The CNS article, which can be turned up with a simple Google search, first referred to another Obama gun-violence-related quip, this one to television journalist Barbara Walters in late 2012, that one reason he ran for another term in the White House was so there would be "men with guns around" as his daughters grew into their teens.
CNS specifically referred to Obama's Feb. 15, 2013, speech, the speech that Hoffer has been trying to point out to the Better Government Association, as another "gaffe" similar to his comment to Walters. "In it, he said 'there is no substitute for fathers'," CNS reporter Ken Blackwell wrote about Obama's comments about fathers being a solution to gun violence shortly after Obama made those comments.
"But in the same proclamation, he takes it back, asserting that two moms will substitute nicely for a father in the home."
As of this writing, the Better Government Association has not changed its "Politifact Truth-O-Meter" story about Ives quoting Obama's well-documented comment about fathers in the home as part of the solution to gun violence, but Hoffer hasn't apologized for trying to point it out.
"The generic response I just received was borderline infuriating," she said in another email shared with Prairie State Wire.
"I’m sure they don't want to have their role as the ultimate arbiter of truth, delivering their absolute 'rulings' in a lofty realm beyond partisanship, questioned."
Perhaps Chase isn’t predisposed to giving Ives a fair shake.
According to Illinois State Board of Elections records, he has voted in seven Democrat primaries and no Republican ones. And Chase’s wife, Tammy, is a longtime communications staffer for Democrat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.