Sarah Palin's Top 10 Biggest Lies

News & Politics

In anticipation of the release of Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue, Media Matters for America has compiled a list of Palin's Top 10 falsehoods from before the book was published.

Falsehood 1: Democratic health reform bills include "death panel[s]"

CLAIM: Democratic health care reform proposals include a "death panel" which would determine whether people are "worthy of health care."

  • Attacking Democratic health care reform proposals, Palin wrote:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil. [Palin Facebook post, 8/7/09

Palin's spokesperson reportedly said Palin's assertion was a reference to the House tri-committee bill's "Advance Care Planning Consultation" provision. Numerous conservative media figures subsequently echoed Palin's claim, asserting that various Democratic health reform bills included actual or "de facto" "death panels."

REALITY: "Death panel" claims have been conclusively discredited. In one of more than 40 media reports debunking claims of euthanasia and "death panels," wrote: "We've looked at the inflammatory claims that the health care bill encourages euthanasia. It doesn't. There's certainly no 'death board' that determines the worthiness of individuals to receive care. ... [Palin] said that the Democratic plan will ration care and 'my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care.' Palin's statement sounds more like a science fiction movie (Soylent Green, anyone?) than part of an actual bill before Congress. We rate her statement Pants on Fire!" [, 8/10/09]

Falsehood 2: Palin said "thanks but no thanks" to Bridge to Nowhere

CLAIM: Palin refused federal funds to build a proposed bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island, popularly referred to as the "Bridge to Nowhere."

  • On numerous occasions during the 2008 presidential campaign, including during her speech to the Republican National Convention and her speech following the announcement that Sen. John McCain had selected her as his running mate, Palin claimed that as Alaska's governor, "I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere. If we wanted a bridge ... we'd build it ourselves."

REALITY: Palin was not in position to reject bridge, and she kept the federal funds. Palin did not tell Congress, " 'Thanks, but no thanks' on that 'bridge to nowhere,' " as she claimed in her speech. First, she was not even in a position to do so. As The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby noted, a year before Palin was elected governor, Congress appropriated the relevant federal money to Alaska and allowed the state to decide whether to spend it on the bridge. After authorizing funds to be spent specifically on the bridge project in August 2005, in an appropriations bill in November 2005, Congress earmarked the money for Alaska, but specified that it did not have to be spent on the bridge. Somerby wrote, "[N]o one had to 'tell Congress' anything about the Bridge to Nowhere, because Congress had removed itself from decision-making about the project." Second, Palin did not refuse the funds or reimburse the federal government; Alaska reportedly kept the federal funds.

Palin supported bridge project until it became clear no new federal funds would be provided. On several occasions during her 2006 gubernatorial run, Palin reportedly expressed support for the bridge project and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding. In a September 21, 2007, press release announcing that she had directed the state to find an alternative to the bridge, Palin said: "Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. ... Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened."

Falsehood 3: Obama was "palling around with terrorists."

CLAIM: The New York Times reported that Obama had been "palling around" with Bill Ayers.

  • During an October 4 appearance in Colorado, Palin reportedly cited her "copy of today's New York Times," which had examined how Obama "Crossed Paths" with Ayers, and suggested that the article showed that Obama "is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

REALITY: The Times actually reported that "the two men do not appear to have been close." From the Times: "A review of records of the schools project and interviews with a dozen people who know both men, suggest that Mr. Obama, 47, has played down his contacts with Mr. Ayers, 63. But the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.' " [NY Times, 10/3/08]

Falsehood 4: Obama had not "authored ... a single major law or reform"

 CLAIM: As an Illinois and United States senator, Barack Obama did not "author ... a single major law or reform."

  • During her September 3, 2008, speech at the Republican National Convention, Palin claimed Obama "is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform -- not even in the state senate."

REALITY: Obama had played key roles in the passage of reform and other legislation in the U.S. Senate. Obama was a lead co-sponsor of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S.2590), which sought to "require full disclosure of all entities and organizations receiving Federal funds" -- an amount that approximately totals $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans; his efforts were recognized by President Bush, Sen. John McCain, and the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Obama was also the sponsor of the "Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2005" (S.2125), signed into law by Bush on December 22, 2006. Obama worked with Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (IN) to produce the "Lugar-Obama proliferation and threat reduction initiative," which Bush signed into law on January 11, 2007.

Obama also played key roles in the passage of reform legislation at the state level. In the Illinois state Senate, Obama was a co-sponsor of a 1998 Illinois ethics law outlawing political fundraising on Illinois state property and barring lobbyists from giving gifts to state legislators; one Obama biographer wrote that the legislation "essentially lifted Illinois, a state with a deep history of illicit, pay-to-play politics, into the modern world when it came to ethics restrictions." Obama also introduced a bill requiring police departments to videotape interrogations of murder suspects within interrogation rooms. The bill was signed into law in 2003.

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