No, PBS Did Not Cover Up An “Error” in Obama’s Speech

If you've visited the Drudge Report this morning, you've noticed the big headline at the top of the right-hand column: "Media Covers Up Obama Speech Flub." It's basically the third-biggest story on the site. 

Picture 27The headline links to a piece at The American Thinker. Remember them? Last week, I highlighted two articles in that far-right rag: one that called Obama an illiterate "race-hustler," and another that claimed "registering the poor to vote is un-American." 

And what a scoop they have today! Crack reporter Timothy Birdnow has caught PBS editing an error out of Obama's jobs speech, in which he called Abraham Lincoln the "founder" of the Republican party. (That's technically incorrect debatable: Lincoln joined the party two years after its founding.) That line wasn't in PBS's transcript.

"So PBS has purposely altered a transcript containing a major gaffe by the President," says Birdnow. Time to pull those commies' funding, right? 

Birdnow's expose has been linked to by Drudge, Hot Air, Instapundit and other giant conservative blogs. And Fox News has simply reposted the American Thinker story on its website, to the tune of 6k Facebook shares. But I was a little suspicious. So I did some research of my own. It took me about 30 seconds to establish that there's a minor problem: The American Thinker story is completely false.

PBS states that it published the transcript of Obama's prepared, written remarks, as opposed to his actual spoken speech. And Obama improvised the bit about Abraham Lincoln founding the Republican Party; it wasn't in the text of his prepared speech. PBS did nothing wrong. 

A few conservative bloggers are catching on to that fact, but, as of this writing, the headline is still there, screaming to the masses on Drudge. I wonder if he'll issue a correction?

Anyway, keep up the good work, American "Thinker"! You've got a fan right here! 

UPDATE: Was Obama even wrong to say that Lincoln founded the GOP? Well, not if you believe the GOP's own website. It says this about Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln helped establish the Republican Party with a speech denouncing an 1854 law, written by a Democrat Senator, that allowed slavery to expand into the western territories. Two years later, he co-founded the Illinois GOP.  Lincoln was runner-up for the 1856 Republican vice presidential nomination and then became a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate.

(update via Little Green Footballs, which also has a comprehensive list of Republicans who have called Abe the "founder" of their party.)


  1. says

    What do they think of other blunders by politicians concerning American history? For example, Michelle Bachman’s claim that “the shot heard ’round the world” happened at Concord, New Hampshire, and Sarah Palin’s claim that Paul Revere rode his horse through the streets of Boston warning the British army – by ringing bells and shooting his weapon in the air – not to confiscate Americans’ weapons. Which blunder is most preposterous? Which politician is the least educated about American history?

  2. Personal Responsibility says

    The bigger issue is that the Campaigner-In-Chief falsely said Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party. That’s what happens when the airhead goes off script. Not that it matters; he’s reading lies as well.

  3. Penn says

    “Personal Responsibility” – you’re absolutely right. Obama is a liar. A big fat liar! Just like all these Republicans who have called Lincoln the founder of the Republican Party:

    “I am a Lincoln/Kemp Republican. It’s 150 years ago in Chicago this year that Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican Party, accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. — Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN)

    Immigration was a core belief of a founder of the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln. — Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R)

    Though Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party, to liberals and advocates of civil rights Lincoln was in that pantheon along with FDR as one of the heroes of liberalism and American democracy. — James Pierson on National Review

    George W. Bush is not a Goldwater Republican — he’s a Lincoln Republican. Like the founder of the Republican party, Bush doesn’t mind spending money on his priorities, and he doesn’t mind doing some of this spending with borrowed money. — Jerry Bowyer, National Review

    It is a pleasure for me to address you upon the day when this club and our countrymen of all faiths throughout the land are paying tribute to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. We tonight also pay tribute to him as founder of the Republican Party and the inspirer of its ideals. — President Herbert Hoover (R)

    It was — it was, in fact, the founder of our party, Abraham Lincoln, who reminded us that a government that can do everything for us is the government that can take everything from us. — Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) 2008 RNC Speech

  4. says

    The update contains two bits of wingnut hilarity. First, they stick to their script by referring to “a Democrat Senator” rather than “a Democratic Senator”. Then they say “Two years later, he [Lincoln] co-founded the Illinois GOP.” The ‘O’ in GOP is for ‘Old’, so they were referring to their party as ‘Old’ AS IT WAS BEING FOUNDED?

    Here’s what Wikipedia says:

    The first reference to the Republican Party as the “grand old party” is dated to 1876; the first use of the abbreviation “GOP” is dated 1884. See “Grand Old Party,” Oxford English Dictionary

    Footnote #12 on

    So they don’t even know their own party’s history as well as the OED.

  5. matt says

    You’re doing a good job Penn. Your tone/style is markedly different from Andy’s. A little weekend flair.

  6. Redebbm says

    @Gay4obama?why It’s not about defending Obama at every cost, who has really took bad swings at his base in order to get stuff done though we may agree/disagree with.

    It is that we are in an age where the fundamental authority of his presidency is under attack 24/7 from the right wing. They don’t see him as president. They are bitter & hateful people who don’t comprehend the economic crisis and what causes it. They question acts that were passed swiftly not only under Bush but every other president. Stimulus, infrastructure, arms treaties, political appointees, etc, all use to be nonpartisan acts.
    This is our president, its fair to attack him for being cloudy on gay marriage, it not fair to let the right attack his every move when they would have no problem with a Republican president doing so. They are hypocrites and need to be shown as such. They do not care for this country’s well being, only the fantasy conservative nation (that never existed) in their heads.

    These are the same people who would rather gay people be swept back into the closet. They want this nation to be backwards and are constantly working towards it and against progress.

  7. jason says

    Matt Drudge is a right wing POS. He’s a cheerleader for the Republican Party, basically.

    His website is basically a love letter to Republicans. He’s probably in love with a member of that Party. I wonder who’s the top in the relationship.

  8. Randy says

    There is no such thing as a “transcript of prepared, written remarks”. That would be called a “script”.

    A transcript, by definition, is a record of what actually was spoken, AFTER it was spoken.

    By using prepared remarks in something called a transcript, PBS was lying.

  9. lamchops says

    PBS called it and still represents it a transcript, just as this site does. In reference to a speech, transcript refers to the act of transcribing: to write, type, or print out fully from speech. If they didn’t alter it after the fact as they claim, and merely printed a copy of the prepared speech, the editors at PBS do not understand the meaning of the word transcript.