The Obama White House erroneously claimed that the president’s Tuesday trip to Puerto Rico was the first “official” presidential visit there since John F. Kennedy’s trip in 1961.
Richard Grenell, former spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, noted that two other presidents visited Puerto Rico since JFK, Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and Gerald Ford in 1976.
“When the White House released the erroneous fact that president Obama would be the first president since John F. Kennedy to visit Puerto Rico, CNN, NPR and others accepted it as fact and began reporting it,” Grenell writes on his personal blog and on the Huffington Post website.
In subsequent news updates NPR repeated the White House’s factual blunder despite online fact checkers highlighting it.
Grenell also says CNN “failed to investigate the White House's claim and even ignored a plethora of online corrections from various reporters and fact-checkers who caught the White House spin early on.”
What is “at the center of the debate” is the meaning of the word “official,” according to Politico. Obama’s visit was official, one might claim, because while there he campaigned, gave interviews and met with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Luis Fortuno. Johnson visited a military base in Puerto Rico, and Ford was there to attend an international economic summit.
Grenell told Politico: “I think it’s disingenuous for the White House to play fast and loose by now trying to define what the word ‘official’ is. “There’s no question that the White House didn’t want to talk about Gerald Ford’s visit and Lyndon Johnson’s visit.”
He also states: “Both NPR and CNN should correct their mistake and come clean as to how it happened.”
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