President Barack Obama clearly uttered one of the memorable lines of the final presidential debate when he suggested Mitt Romney was so stuck in the past that the Republican believed the Army still relied on the "horses and bayonets" of 1916.
It turns out, though, it might not have been the most accurate line. The Army still relies pretty heavily on bayonets, currently counting 419,155 of them in its active inventory, according to Army spokesman Wayne V. Hall. And that doesn't even include the Marines, which the Los Angeles Times recently reported plans to buy 175,000 bayonets this year.
Obama's flub was just one of several this week that reminds us why Americans sometimes view politicians and reporters with a touch of distrust. The New York Times managed to run a story that the president himself declared was untrue. And Romney demonstrated he needed a refresher course in geography.
For their mangling of facts on foreign policy, Obama, Romney and the Times jointly win the Whopper of the Week, a distinction awarded by the Washington Guardian to highlight misleading claims in the public domain.
Let's go to the videotape to take a closer look
“I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works,” Obama said while attacking his opponent's foreign policy. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.”
The president made the comment to show the military has changed, but as the bayonets indicate, it may not have changed as much as he thought.
Romney, meanwhile, seemed to have trouble with geography during the debate.
"Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea," the governor said.
Syria has been criticized for their supposedly close ties to Iran, but it's not Iran's path to the sea. The two nations don't share a border, instead separated by Iraq and Turkey. And Iran already has access to the ocean through the Persian Gulf. In fact, the Iranian navy has in the past threatened to stop all oil shipments through the heavily-traveled waterway.
Even the New York Times got into the final presidential debate, after reporting Oct. 20 that the U.S. and Iran had agreed to talks over the Islamist nation's nuclear program. "The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program," read the article, citing "Obama administration officials."
The report, however, was shot down by numerous officials on the record, including Obama himself during Monday's debate.
"Well, first of all those are reports in the newspaper, they are not true," he said.
TheTimes had to do an abrupt about face as other administration officials chimed in.
"It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections," said Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council.
Chances are good that any stories published since have gone under increased scrutiny from Times editors.