Rogue Facts: Media Matters' ongoing list of falsehoods in Palin's memoir

Media Matters for America has documented numerous falsehoods in Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life. Below is a list of what we've found so far.

1. Palin falsely suggests poor will be “hit hardest” by cap and trade

Palin: Obama “admitted” cap and trade will cause “electricity bills to 'skyrocket' ” and “those hit hardest will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet.” Palin falsely suggests that “those hit hardest [by cap and trade] will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet” and that Obama “has already admitted that the policy he seeks will cause our electricity bills to 'skyrocket.' ” She added: “So much for the campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. This is a tax on everyone.” [Going Rogue, Pages 390-391]

CBO says poorest quintile will benefit from Waxman-Markey. The Congressional Budget Office found that in 2020, the version of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in June with the support of the Obama administration would result in a $125 average annual benefit to the quintile of households with the lowest income and a $160 average annual cost to all American households.

Obama was talking about a different plan causing energy costs to “skyrocket.” As the Associated Press noted in fact-checking Palin's book, Obama was not talking about the cap-and-trade legislation that has since passed in the House when he referred to energy costs “necessarily skyrocket[ting].” When Obama made that statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in January 2008, he was describing a cap-and-trade proposal that would auction off 100 percent of available carbon allowances, and he made no mention at the time of a plan to compensate consumers for potential cost increases. But as noted, the Waxman-Markey bill initially would distribute most of the carbon allocations for free and contains substantial provisions to offset costs to consumers, and thus “should reduce costs to consumers.”

2. Palin still falsely claiming stimulus money for energy efficiency she vetoed required tougher building codes

Palin: “One-size-fits-all codes” required to get funds “simply wouldn't work.” Palin claims that she vetoed a $25 million “earmark for energy conservation” available through the stimulus because Alaska would have needed to adopt “universal energy building codes” to be eligible for the funds. She comments: “Universal building codes -- in Alaska! A practical, libertarian haven full of independent Americans who did not desire 'help' from government busybodies. A state full of hardy pioneers who did not like taking orders from the feds telling us to change our laws. A state so geographically diverse that one-size-fits-all codes simply wouldn't work.” [Going Rogue, Pages 361-362]

PolitiFact: Palin's claim that funds were “tied to universal energy building codes” is “false.” After Palin made similar comments on Fox News' Hannity, PolitiFact said she was “wrong” because “municipalities are not forced to accept the specific standards and, given that local governments set their own codes, the feds would be satisfied if Alaska merely promoted such building codes [emphasis in original].” PolitiFact also reported that in a letter to Palin's chief of staff, a Department of Energy official “wrote that the provision 'provides flexibility with regard to building codes' and 'expressly includes standards other than those cited so long as the standards achieve equivalent energy savings.' ”

3. Palin continues distortion of NY Times article to defend “palling around with terrorists” claim

Palin claimed her “palling around” comment followed report on “friendship” between Obama and Ayers. Palin claims: “In relation to the breaking news about the friendship between the unrepentant domestic terrorist [Bill Ayers] and the Democrat candidate for president of the United States, headquarters issued an approved sound bite about Obama 'palling around with terrorists,' and I was happy to be the one to deliver it. As more information was made public concerning Obama's associations and the fact that he had kicked off his political career in Ayers's living room, the sound bite was written into a rally speech.” [Going Rogue, Pages 306-307]

NY Times article Palin cited reported that Obama and Ayers “do not appear to have been close.” In the October 2008 speech to which Palin is presumably referring, she cited that day's New York Times article in claiming that Obama is “palling around with terrorists.” But, in fact, the Times reported that “the two men do not appear to have been close.” From the October 3, 2008, New York Times: “A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.' ”

CNN Fact Check: Palin statement “false.” In an October 5, 2008, Fact Check, CNN's Political Ticker blog found Palin's statement “false,” writing: “There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now 'palling around,' or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.”

4. Palin stands by falsehood that Obama opposed “protect[ing] babies born alive after botched abortions”

Palin: Obama “opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions.” Palin writes that during her September 2008 interviews with CBS' Katie Couric, she asserted that the “real extremism” on abortion comes from people “like Barack Obama, who opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions” -- joining other conservatives in misleadingly referencing Obama's opposition to legislation that would have amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. [Going Rogue, Page 278]

As Obama and other opponents noted, criminal code already prevented killing of children. Opponents of the bill noted that the legislation was unnecessary, as the Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibits killing children, and said that the bill posed a threat to abortion rights. When tasked by the Illinois attorney general's office with investigating allegations that fetuses born alive at an Illinois hospital were abandoned without treatment -- the alleged incident that inspired the “Born Alive Act” -- the Illinois Department of Public Health reportedly said that it was unable to substantiate the allegations but said that if the allegations had proved true, the conduct alleged would have been a violation of existing Illinois law. The Obama presidential campaign subsequently cited specific provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in stating that the “born alive principle was already the law in Illinois.” Time magazine and The Washington Post's “fact checker” have previously debunked similar claims previously advanced by Palin.

5. Palin falsely suggests she did not support aerial hunting

Palin: Radio host “suggested we get together and hunt from helicopters, which Alaska hunters don't do.” Palin falsely suggests that Alaskans do not engage in the aerial hunting of wolves, writing of her phone call with a radio host impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “Then Sarkozy started talking about hunting and suggested we get together and hunt from helicopters, which Alaska hunters don't do (despite circulated Photoshopped images of me drawing a bead on a wolf from the air).” [Going Rogue, Page 327]

Aerial hunting of wolves takes place in Alaska under program supported by Palin. Under Alaska law, “the Board of Game may authorize a predator control program as part of a game management plan that involves airborne or same day airborne shooting.” In 2007, Palin introduced a bill to “simplify and clarify Alaska's intensive management law for big game and the state's 'same day airborne hunting' law,” which she stated would “give the Board of Game and state wildlife managers the tools they need to actively manage important game herds and help thousands of Alaskan families put food on their tables.”

6. Palin falsely suggested media did not criticize Dems over fashion

Palin: "[M]any wondered at the same time why no other candidates or their spouses were being asked a thing about their hair, makeup, or clothes." Palin noted reports that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 “to clothe and accessorize” Palin and her family and asserted that “many wondered at the same time why no other candidates or their spouses were being asked a thing about their hair, makeup, or clothes.” [Going Rogue, Pages 314-315]

Edwards, Obama, Clinton, and Biden were subjected to frequent scrutiny “about their hair, makeup, or clothes.” During the Democratic primary, the media devoted significant attention to John Edwards' “expensive” haircuts -- which were brought up by moderators in two Democratic presidential debates in 2007 -- to Obama's clothing, including during the April 16, 2008, presidential debate and in a Washington Post article stating: “One of the most distinctive elements of Barack Obama's public style comes down to what he so often is not wearing: patriotism on his sleeve” ; to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's clothing, including linking Clinton's “bright colors” to “likability problem” and calling attention to her neckline; and to questions over whether Biden had “taken steps to pre-empt baldness.”

7. Palin attacks “Democrat lawmaker” who's actually a Republican

Palin: “Democrat lawmaker ... complained that I wasn't as 'sparky.' ” Palin mocks the “political buckshot” her “critics fired” at her, writing: "[L]ocally, the opposition would criticize me for focusing on national issues -- as if I suddenly needed to become parochial and think of Alaska's issues as irrelevant to the nation. In Juneau, one Democrat lawmaker complained that I wasn't as 'sparky' as before and that Piper and I no longer brought around bagels like we used to." [Going Rogue, Page 344]

“Democrat lawmaker” actually a Republican. Palin appeared to be referring to a January 31 AP article that quoted Alaska state Sen. Bert Stedman -- a Republican -- describing Palin as "[n]ot so sparky." The article also reported that a separate Alaska lawmaker, a Democrat, mentioned that Palin, before the 2008 election, “walked around the building with (her daughter) Piper handing out bagels. I think those days are gone.”

8. Palin absurdly claims McCain campaign “did not elaborate” on Obama's purported “relationship with ACORN”

Palin: During campaign, “we did not elaborate” on “Obama's close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists.” Palin writes: “I wish we had talked more ... about Obama's close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists. But we did not elaborate on any of that during the campaign.” [Going Rogue, page 360]

In fact, McCain, Palin, and rest of campaign advanced ridiculous ACORN/Obama conspiracy theories. For example, during the October 15, 2008, presidential debate, McCain repeatedly raised “Obama's relationship with ACORN.” At an October 17, 2008, rally, Palin accused Obama of “fuzzying up his connections to ACORN.” And during an October 17, 2008, conference on “Senator Barack Obama's association with ACORN,” McCain-Palin campaign manager Rick Davis discussed Obama's purported “relationship with ACORN” while asserting that a “cloud of suspicion” seemed to be hanging “over this election.”

9. Palin promotes discredited notion that gov't “force[d] financial institutions” into risky lending that “triggered” the “collapse of our financial markets”

Palin: "[D]esire to increase home ownership among people who could not yet afford to own a home" to blame. Palin writes, "The mortgage crisis that triggered the collapse of our financial markets was rooted in a well-meaning but wrongheaded desire to increase home ownership among people who could not yet afford to own a home." She further writes, “Government cannot force financial institutions to give loans to people who can't afford to pay them back and then expect that somehow things will all magically work out. Sooner or later, reality catches up with us” [Going Rogue, Page 388]. Palin's claim echo conservatives' tireless efforts to blame the financial crisis on affordable housing initiatives, largely centered on the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.

Experts say CRA did not contribute to financial crisis “in any substantive way.” Palin's claim runs counter to the belief of housing finance experts, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who in a 2008 letter stated, “Our own experience with CRA over more than 30 years and recent analysis of available data, including data on subprime loan performance, runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of, or otherwise contributed in any substantive way to, the current mortgage difficulties.”

10. Palin offers straw men to criticize Democratic proposals' effects on small businesses

Palin: Don't open a business while the “Democrat-led Congress” is dictating to you. Palin writes that she warned her daughter Bristol not to open her own small business because the “Democrat-led Congress” would purportedly dictate “how you should invest your money, the color of your roof, your source of energy generation, and what kind of health insurance you must offer, and even the kind of cars you can have in your company fleet” [Going Rogue, Page 358].

Congress not considering any law “dictating ... the color of your roof.” Regarding Palin's claim that the “Democrat-led Congress is dictating ... the color of your roof,” at a climate change symposium in May, Energy Secretary Steven Chu noted that painting roofs white would have the effect of increasing their albedo and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, the relevant legislation to pass the House, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, does not require roofs be retrofitted in this manner, it simply provides financial incentives to do so.

Under health reform bills, small businesses are protected from the requirement to provide insurance coverage to employees. Contrary to Palin's claim that “the Democrat-led Congress is dictating ... what kind of health insurance you must offer,” the bills passed by the House and by the Senate's Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committees include exemptions protecting small businesses from requirements that employers provide health insurance to their employees or pay a fine. In fact, under all three bills, eligible small business would receive tax credits for choosing to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.

The “Democrat-controlled Congress” has not considered laws dictating "the kind of cars you can have in your company fleet." Neither the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act nor the energy bill “dictat[es]” the “kind of cars you can have in your company fleet.” The recovery act provides $300 million for the federal government to make “capital expenditures and necessary expenses of acquiring motor vehicles with higher fuel economy, including: hybrid vehicles; neighborhood electric vehicles; electric vehicles; and commercially-available, plug-in hybrid vehicles,” and tax credits for “new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles.” Likewise, the House energy bill provides “credits to fleets that repower or convert an existing vehicle so that it is capable of operating on an alternative fuel,” but does not require such conversion. Additionally, President Obama has implemented new mileage and emissions regulations that will require cars to increase fuel efficiency.

11. Palin, without elaboration, calls Bridge to Nowhere a “lie”

Palin: Press should have corrected Bridge to Nowhere “lie.” Palin writes that shortly after she was tapped as Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential race, the media began reporting “one lie after another -- from rape kits to Bridges to Nowhere. All easy enough to disprove if the press had done its job.” [Going Rogue, Page 237]

Palin: “Thanks but no thanks” on bridge. In her very first appearance as McCain's running mate on August 29, 2008, Palin gave a speech in which she said: “I signed major ethics reform. And I appointed both Democrats and independents to serve in my administration. And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress -- I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere.”

Palin's statement completely false. Media outlets reporting on Palin's speech noted that Palin, as a candidate for governor in 2006, reportedly expressed support on several occasions for the bridge project and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding. Moreover, as governor, Palin was in no position to reject the bridge project -- Congress had already appropriated the money to Alaska and left it to the state government to decide whether to spend it on the bridge. Palin did not refuse the funds or reimburse the federal government; Alaska reportedly kept the federal funds.