So is the “You Lie!” Guy a Liar?

As you might have heard, there was a little interruption during the president’s address last night. But was Rep. Joe Wilson’s unscheduled objection—in which he accused Obama of lying by claimed that undocumented immigrants would not benefit from health care reform—itself a falsehood?

Brendan Nyhan, who’s spent a lot of time sifting political fact from fiction, has a thorough examination of the question here, in an exchange with Matt Yglesias. His conclusion: while the president’s clear intent was to rebut allegations that are false,

Obama’s denial that “our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants” is therefore imprecise — he means the proposed legislation would not subsidize the insurance costs of illegal immigrants. Yglesias and I know what Obama meant; others may not. Moreover, views differ over the extent to which the public option would end up being publicly subsidized in practice — many people, including me, believe it would end up receiving significant direct or indirect subsidies… From this perspective, you can argue that illegal immigrants would receive some benefit.

Much more (along with some fun historical and multicultural perspective on heckling, and worse) at the link.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.