Almost every would-be GOP nominee has made an issue of America’s declining naval strength. This morning The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee gave “three Pinocchios” to Lindesy Graham and Scott Walker for recalling Ronald Reagan’s 600 ship Navy and deploring our drop to 273 ships today.
Not only does Ms. Lee suggest untruthfulness about these absolutely factual assertions by Graham and Walker, she does so without finding even one expert who challenges their assertions about U.S. naval strength hitting dangerous lows. She joined me to defend her conclusion, but I wasn’t persuaded and believe the Post should issue a correction for putting out as a “fact check” a thinly disguised and actually poorly informed opinion of one of its writers. I appreciate that Ms. Lee would come on to defend her piece but this issue is too important to leave to the “fact checkers” who aren’t actually checking facts:
HH: I am now pleased to welcome, the first time on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, who is a Washington Post reporter. Michelle, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.
MYHL: Hi, thanks for having me.
HH: You have created quite a stir today with your piece, The Zombie Claim About Navy Ship Numbers Returns To The 2016 Campaign Trail. I was talking about it last hour with Governor Pataki. He and a bunch of other Republicans just simply reject your three Pinocchios. So would you please explain to the audience what is the zombie nature of the claim that Republicans are making about naval strength?
MYHL: Sure. So this was a claim that Romney had said during the last presidential campaign, and so when it came back up, you know, I was looking back at the analyses that had been done, and sort of revisiting that leading up to the 2016 cycle. So a lot of the criticism back then was that you know, instead of comparing the sheer number of ships a hundred years ago to now, you know, there are other ways to try to make the argument that you know, Romney was trying to make. And so I was getting at that, and you know, I revisited the issue, and remained consistent with the rating that we had given Romney then with the three Pinocchios.
HH: Now why do you call it a zombie claim? Because every naval expert I’ve talked to believes we’re in a crisis when it comes to ship count and strategic ability to project force, every single one. And as I read your piece, I didn’t actually find anyone disagreeing with Lindsey Graham or Scott Walker.
MYHL: Well, the zombie claim is sort of a reader-friendly way to describe that this is something that had been talked about in the past, and that it had been challenged in the past as well. And you know, we sort of use it to say hey, you know, we’ve been there before, we’ll say it again. So that’s sort of a reader-friendly way to put it that way. You know, I don’t think it’s that people disagree necessarily with the claim that there needs to be more ships, or that the current fleet is not sufficient compared to what the combatant commanders say they need. But it’s, again, going back to the idea that you know, the needs of, the need and capability of ships evolve over time. So to compare the number of ships in 2015 versus the number of ships in 1915, ’16, ’17 or in the 1980s is just not an apples to apples comparison. Continue Reading