The idea that Obama could resolve the impasse if only he tried harder is a common fallacy of centrist commentary in Washington, but it’s especially perverse when offered as a factcheck. The problem, once again, is a lack of discipline in selecting targets for factchecks and a tendency to make subjective pronouncements about language and process. As Marx notes, claims like these are “ultimately political, not journalistic, in nature. By insisting otherwise, and acting as if journalistic methods can resolve the argument, the factcheckers weaken the morally freighted language that’s designed to give their work power.”

Kessler is a distinguished reporter and journalist, so why not give him a separate column for punditry and preserve The Fact Checker column for, well, facts?

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Brendan Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College. He blogs at and tweets @BrendanNyhan.