December 12th, 2013
07:30 PM ET
1 year ago

And the top lie of 2013 goes to...

(CNN) – It's the worst of the worst – the most fictional of statements, the flippiest of flops and most misleading of claims by U.S. political figures this year.

Fact checkers, Politifact, asked readers to rank the top lies from politicians in 2013. Here are the top four - all of which relate to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act:

1 - Obama: "If you like your plan; You can keep your plan"

Obama's repeated promise that if you like your health care plan, you can still keep it under the Affordable Care Act leads Politifact's list with 59% of voters picking it as top lie of the year.

But it was the President’s revised pitch to the nation amid a storm of controversy over cancelled policies that earned Politifact's "pants on fire" emblem.

"What we said was - you could keep it, if it hasn't changed since the law passed," Obama said in November.

Politifact editor Angie Drobnic Holan told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview that its team of fact check editors chose Obama's Obamacare statements because they had the most impact on the national debate.

"It's something we first flagged back in 2009. We said this is partly right - the health care law does leave in place the existing health care system but it's partly wrong because we knew back then not everybody would be able to keep their health care plan and this was the year that it was proved false as these cancellation letters when out again."

Drobnic said Politifact found 37 instances in which the President repeated that promise, without caveats.

"The original statement is partly accurate. The lie of the year is not the most strong statement - it's the most significant impact and then the excuse got the ‘pants on fire’ overall," she said.

2 - Ted Cruz: Congress gets exception to Obamacare

Runner-up is Texas conservative and tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a speech in August, Cruz said President Barack Obama "granted all of Congress an exception" to Obamacare.

Politifact rated this claim "false."

"Congress has to have insurance just like all other Americans the law actually forced them out of the federal employees plan and on to the online market places so they could experience what it's like to shop with everyone else - so, not exempt."

Cruz's press office e-mailed CNN saying the Senator's statement is "100% correct."

"The Obama administration granted Congress the ability to keep federal health subsidies to purchase Obamacare exchange plans. That's an exemption from the law that private sector firms don't get."

3 - Michele Bachmann: IRS health care database

Former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in May appearing on Fox News that the IRS will be "in charge" of "a huge national database" on health care.

"The IRS is not keeping people's health care records," Drobnic said.

"The only role they play is if someone gets a subsidy to help them buy insurance, the IRS will verify their income and the IRS already has that information and they know how much money you're making."

Bachmann made similar claims about the IRS and its ties to the health care law in 2011 after Obama's State of the Union address.

The tea party darling asserted that "Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's health care bill."

At the time, CNN rated her claim misleading at best as the health care bill specifically says that taxpayers who do not buy insurance won't be prosecuted because of their failure to buy insurance through the law.

4 - Ann Coulter: Docs won't accept Obamacare

Politifact rated conservative commentator Ann Coulter's claim that "No U.S.-trained doctor will accept Obamacare" a whooping "pants on fire."

Coulter made the comments in a column titled "Democrats to America: We Own the Government!" posted to her website in October.

"Experts told us this was ridiculous and nothing we could find in the law connected where doctors were trained with what kind of insurance you had," Drobnic said.

Experts, Politifact says, called the notion that there is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that bars doctors from accepting patients who bought insurance under the federal marketplace "ridiculous" and "outrageous."

CNN reached out to the people mentioned above for comment. Cruz's office was the only one to reply by the time the Lead aired at 4 p.m. ET.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Ann Coulter • Michele Bachmann • President Obama • Ted Cruz
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. 4Truth

    CNN again giving cover to Obama by surrounding his calculated and repeated lies to the American people with conservatives. Cruz arguing interpretations of a situation or Coulter making a wrong prediction are laughable to be compared to repeated intentional lie by Obama to deceive to protect his re-election. That should be an impeachable offense. Obama really should have gotten at least places 2 and 3 as well – 'Benghazi was the result of a video' – repeated long after it was shown he had to know, even to the U.N., and 'I didn't know' – which is finally running thin with the American people. To the persons at CNN responsible for this oversight, may God have mercy on your souls.

    December 13, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  2. Wow

    What you guys FAIL to mention is that #1 was picked 59% of the time and #2 drops to 8%!

    December 13, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  3. A True Conservative

    I think Cruz has you on his statement. If Congress gets special provisions then it is, in effect, exempt from the law.

    December 13, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Time will tell if all of these statements will turn out to be true.

    December 13, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  5. NooYawkah

    How convenient. Of course there was no way to bury Obama's keep your insurance bald faced lie, but just to soften the blow the next 3 "liars" are all conservative republicans.

    December 13, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Pres. Obama might be at the top of the list, but he's only guilty of understatting his meaning in such a way that his words took on an entirely different meaning. I love who has been chosen for slots 2, 3, and 4, some of the worst liars in the right wing. The funnniest part is that the Republican Party's leading wonder boy, Ted Cruz, rolls in at number two.

    I just wish that the list had been constrained to elected officials, though. Had that been the case, you could remove Coulter and insert Rand Paul.

    December 13, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  7. Joe

    Obama got 59% of the votes for lie of the year. the others didnt even get double digits. Look around the media, this astounding news that the President of the US has been deemed the liar of the year is getting buried. Last year when they gave Romney that distinction it was a lead story on all the networks and publications.

    December 13, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  8. that guy

    since Obama was the #1 lie, they had to make sure to plug in as many conservatives as they could right after him! This is about what I expect from our media.

    December 13, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  9. that guy

    Rudy – In other words you just called your idol a liar! If your kids simply "understatting his meaning in such a way that his words took on an entirely different meaning," you would be mad because they lied to you. Does the term "useful idiot" mean anything to you........because that is exactly what you are.

    December 13, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  10. Miguel Caron

    I'm pretty sure the top political lie of 2013 is "Syrian rebels are our allies and freedom fighters"

    December 13, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. that guy

    More Americans will lose thier healthcare because of this! By the way, the fact that you all have to explain the definition of a lie means that it was in fact a lie. Useful idiots will believe anything, the funny part is that they do it because they believe that they are so much smarter than everyone else.

    December 13, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  12. Evelyn Connaway

    I don't believe – "you can keep your insurance if you want too" – was a lie. Your policy rules and underwriting regulations just have to be re-written under the new rules for insurance coverage, the same as is under the Affordable Health Care Act, to cover the needs of all illnesses. Actually this cancellation business was a lot of nonsense, to a degree. A policy can only be cancelled for NON-PAYMENT OF PREMIUM (some might have been cancelled for that reason, as the private market started to increase the premiums) but they can send NON-RENEWAL NOTICES, 60 days in advance of the annual expiration date – to the policyholder and Agent of Record, which are usually re-written with another Carrier. The private market really jumped on this, as it was a great way to get rid of all policyholders who had started having claims (which the company claims department puts a red flag on) and were no longer making money for them. They knew under the new insurance coverage rules they were not going to be able to exclude certain illnesses from their policy coverage, so they started getting rid of the ones their Actuaries figured would never be profitable for the company, and they knew the policyholders now had a marketplace to go to.

    Insurance is a gamble – Insurance companies sell their policies on the premise, for your protection in case of a loss of the items they choose to insurance you for and the amount they choose to pay – but they don't tell you – if you do have a loss – they can NON-RENEW your policy on the annual anniversary date , with a 60 day notice – but they can't cancel as long as you pay your premium during that time. The companies MADE President Obama's words turn out to be false, it was not a lie on his part. I think he forgot that the companies aren't in business for the good of the policyholder, but for their bottom line. They are a money making entity and wants lots of it with no loss.

    December 13, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    I still say the biggest lie told about the ACA is the one about the death panel. Conspirators point to a section of the law that creates a 24-member panel that evaluates individual cases, to determine the law's effectiveness, and then make non-binding recommendatinos to the Congress on ways to improve the law. It's kind of, sort of like Review Board for a police department.
    That's where the whopper factor of the death panel lie kicks it into hyperdrive. This group of two dozen people are supposed to be the ones making millions of life or death health care decisions on a daily basis. Yeah, right.

    December 13, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  14. Carrie

    that guy
    since Obama was the #1 lie, they had to make sure to plug in as many conservatives as they could right after him! This is about what I expect from our media

    I noticed that to, I totally agree with you.

    December 13, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. king

    mmm i see the president telling a lie to improve the lives of the unfortunates in this country, then i see repubs lying to damage this country. lesson the fact is human beings tell more lies than truth, and that is a fact. so if one of these lies is to improve our moral standings in this country to help people when they are sick, i would jump on those lies, rather for the relentless undermine lies to destroy this country perpetrated by the repubs, just because of not winning an election. lies are the fabric of our existence, that's why YAH told us, do not bear false witness against someone when you know you are lying. that is different than lying to get things accomplished or getting what you want, i called him a practical GOD

    December 13, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  16. Dionysus86

    "since Obama was the #1 lie, they had to make sure to plug in as many conservatives as they could right after him! This is about what I expect from our media."

    "How convenient. Of course there was no way to bury Obama's keep your insurance bald faced lie, but just to soften the blow the next 3 "liars" are all conservative republicans."

    The both of you do realize that these lies were chosen based on a poll of readers, and not by CNN itself, yes? Bueller?

    December 13, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. Robert N. constant

    The real top political "lie" Is CNN choosing to focus the health care issue on Republican Talking Points to the exclusion of mostly everything else. Fox News is "in your face" Right Wing. No questions. CNN in reality is FOX LIGHT. The pretense is neutrality . The choice of spin and what to cover is right out of Tea Party talking points.

    December 13, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. Norma Vessels

    The reason there are three Conservative lies mentioned, and only one Democratic lie, is that the Conservatives lie so much more often .. and I mean a lot more! There's no getting around that, no matter how one spins the excuses for them. We try to step over the Democratic lies, but we have to wade knee deep through the Republican lies.

    December 13, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  19. jerry

    Hey CNN parsing and lying are not really the same thing....

    December 13, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  20. Chairman Liberal National Party

    My wife got a notice that her present policy will cost 3 times more and she was upset. That to me is a cancelation. Upon closer examination she realized that her present policy was junk. So she would have to pay more for the same junk. She signed up for a better policy and it was cheaper. For 95 +% Obama was correct. But like me how could you imagine people wanting to keep more expensive bad policies. It is like no one would ever want to drink cyanide. You think? So to put this at the top of the lie list is pure politics. Oh yes and this lie is for less then 5% of the population. Where as the Republican lies were for 100% of the population. I agree with Maddow, Politico does not tell the whole truth.

    December 13, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  21. thinking outside the box

    Wonderful ranking system. Let's have people vote on what was the worst lie. It's not like these same individuals think Obamacare and the ACA are different things. There couldn't possibly be anything wrong with a completely subjective ranking system.

    December 13, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  22. Merle McClung

    President Obama didn't lie, he just hadn't counted on all the health insurance companies cancelling plans rather than meeting the standards required by Obamacare. The companies were in the room when the healthcare bill was crafted, but didn't let on they would bail on the ACA. Who could have predicted insurance companies would rather cancel business than cover pre-existing and preventative care?

    December 13, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. Duke

    OMG – you mean, like, politicians actually lie? Like, to us?, Like, OMG ya know? Like, at least we have the media to trust, THEY will never, like , lie to us, right? Like its in the constitution right?

    And the people here in the comments section. Everyone here tell the truth right? And, like, CNN doesn't alow ANY post that has a lie in right?

    OMG I feel better now!!

    December 13, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  24. SeeThruIt2

    Obama's statement was rated by "59% of voters picking it as top lie of the year. " This is the only one that suggests some objective evaluation, when they've polled voters for their opinion of a lie.

    The other three were all subjective ratings by the PolitiFact staffers and un-named "experts". There's no objective measure to say why those were in the top 4.

    This is partisan politics disguised as news by CNN.

    December 13, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  25. mcjny

    I have kept my plan. My healthcare experience hasn't changed in the slightest. I am certainly not the lone lucky guy who's insurance provider, cigna, was already in compliance. So how can this be the political lie of the year if obama's pledge applies to some, Perhaps many? Whatever. I have given up on the media as a source of information and informed opinion. it's all ratings, sensationalism, emotion invoking, garbage now. What is currently called journalism is more like the high school gossip tweet on a massive scale. it's a garbage heap now.

    December 13, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
1 2 3 4 5