It’s been a while since we checked in with our friend, Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s Fact Check columnist. His column today looked into President Obama’s claim in a The New Republic interview that at Camp David “we do skeet shooting all of the time.” The claim appears to be a simple effort to spin the gun control debate by making the case that the president himself uses and enjoys guns. But is it true?
Once again, Kessler has done an outstanding job of reporting only to fumble the ball just before the finish line by rating the president’s claim in a way that seems to ignore his own reporting. In this case, he notes that the White House has refused to provide anything to corroborate the skeet shooting claim: no video footage, no photographs, and no testimony from other Camp David visitors. Spencer then searches far and wide through the record to find any scrap of evidence to corroborate the president’s claim and finds none. So why then doesn’t he just say Obama’s claim is a fabrication?
Bear in mind, this is not any random dude. The president of the United States is one of the most-watched, most-reported-on people in the entire world. If Obama had shot skeet even once at during his time in office, it should not be hard to find a reference to that some place. But none seems to exist.
As Spencer notes in his column, Obama apparently never mentioned shooting skeet even in cases where you’d think he would:
We searched high and low through hundreds of news reports to see if there was ever any other mention of Obama engaged in skeet shooting. We found that Obama, in a weekly radio address in 2012, congratulated Kim Rhode on becoming “the first American to win individual medals in five straight Olympics with her gold in skeet shooting” and Army Sgt. Vincent Hancock for a second skeet gold.
But when the Olympic athletes later visited the White House, Obama did not make a reference to having attempted skeet shooting. Instead, he spoke of other sports that moved him to do better.
Kessler also finds evidence that Obama turned down an offer by the American Hunters and Shooters Association to go skeet shooting.
In his sum up, he says:
The evidence suggests that until Obama had access to a shooting range as president, he never went skeet shooting. He certainly did not speak like a politician who had once used a firearm.
But it is also curious that the White House refuses to provide any documentary evidence that he actually used the shooting range at Camp David, since he claims he uses it “all the time,” or that a presidential friend has not come forward to confirm the president’s comments.
We live in suspicious times and the president lives in a media fishbowl. That’s the way it is. In the meantime, we do not have enough information to make a ruling one way or the other. We are eager to see a photograph, or hear from someone who saw him at the skeet range, to put this matter to rest. (Emphasis added.)
Oh, come on, Glenn. If you cannot find one single speck of evidence that the president has ever shot skeet, even once, and the White House refuses to provide any evidence to the contrary after he said he did it “all of the time,” the only logical conclusion is that he was lying.
Evidently, some Post readers agree with me. Kessler has an update saying: “A reader notes that because Obama said he does skeet shooting ‘all the time,’ perhaps our standard of proof should be higher–such as several photographs. That’s a reasonable point.”
Yes, that’s more than reasonable.
UPDATE: Kessler tweets at me: “Oh, have patience. He’s talking about himself, not making a claim against someone else. Ps [Pinocchios] will come if WH stays mum.”