When President Obama held a news conference Thursday to push his jobs plan, he told an anecdote about a teacher from Boston he met recently to really drive the point home that Congress needs to act immediately on the American Jobs Act and put teachers back to work. But the tale the president told may have been a bit embellished.
Obama said he had met a young man named Robert Baroz who has two decades of teaching experience, a master's degree and and excellent track record of teaching. "He's an English teacher in Boston who came to the White House a few weeks ago," the president explained to reporters. "In the last few years, he's received three pink slips because of budget cuts. Why wouldn't we want to pass a bill that puts somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids?"
But there are two elements of Mr. Obama's story that are being questioned. According to the Boston Herald, Robert Baroz never met the president when he was at the White House. And Robert Baroz is currently employed.
Baroz tells the Herald it's true he was at a White House press conference on jobs last month, but he never actually met with Mr. Obama. Instead, he met with the president's Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
It's also true Baroz has in fact received three pink slips in four years, but he is currently employed as a literacy and data coach.
Fox News' Ed Henry asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about the discrepancies in the president's story. Carney didn't refute the fact that Baroz never actually met the president. "I think he was this close to the president as you are to me and, you know, the president knows his story," he said.
Carney added that the overall message is indisputable. "[A]ll around the country teachers are being laid off. The president has a plan to solve that...or to address that problem." Carney went on to say Baroz was hired as a "result of the kinds of assistance provided by this administration through the Recovery Act to give assistance to states to ensure that teachers were hired back or weren't laid off to begin with."
Baroz, who is an Obama supporter, explained to the Herald that Obama's story was an effort to tell a higher truth. "People who want to fuss over the word choice are missing the point. It's about our investing in education and in communities," Baroz told the newspaper. "It was technically correct."