Labor union president Andy Stern is "the most frequent visitor" at the White House.
Glenn Beck on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 in his Fox News Channel show
Beck says labor leader is most frequent White House visitor
Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck recently found another rhetorical weapon to use against President Barack Obama: White House visitor logs.
In a Dec. 3, 2009, broadcast, Beck decried that Andy Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, appears more times in a White House visitor log release than anyone else.
"You've got to ask yourself what the hell happened to this country," Beck said. "If I would have told you instead that the most frequent visitor of the White House, over the secretary of state and everybody else, is a labor union president [Stern] who has repeatedly said workers of the world unite ... would you have believed it?" (For the record, "Workers of the world, unite!" is the popular, if unofficial, translation of the final exhortation in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' Communist Manifesto .)
We found the source of Beck's claim. When the White House released its first batch of visitor logs on Oct. 30, 2009, as part of a pledge to bring more transparency to the White House, Stern's name did indeed appear 22 times, more than anyone else listed, including Clinton, who was listed three times.
But that's not the whole story.
Stern led the pack for the first data release, which covered visits from Jan. 20, 2009 to July 31, 2009. But he was surpassed by several other individuals in the second release, which updates the data through Aug. 31, 2009 (and which was made public more than a week before Beck aired his comment).
Among those who visited more frequently than Stern, according to the combination of the two logs, were Lewis (Lee) Sachs, counselor to Treasury Secetary Timothy Geithner, with 92 visits; associate attorney general Tom Perrelli, with 49; Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski with 47; Spencer Overton, principal deputy assistant attorney general, with 38; and Health and Human Services office of health reform director Jeanne Lambrew, with 27. (Stern visited twice more during the period covered by the second batch of data, giving him a total of 24 visits.)
Another complication is that the first batch of data -- covering the period from Jan. 20, 2009, to July 31, 2009, which found Stern in the lead -- is not a complete accounting of White House visits during that period. It only includes data for visitors whose names were first requested by the public. If no one requested a specific name, that name would not appear in the database. So there's no way of knowing whether Stern actually had the most visits for that period; he simply had the most of anyone whose name was requested by the public. (All records dated after Sept. 15, 2009, will be released, the White House says, with exceptions for issues of national security, personal safety and a few other caveats.)
Finally, there are a lot of important people whose visits are not ordinarily captured by the White House log system -- most notably, Cabinet members, like the one Beck mentioned, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While the visitor logs show a mere three visits by Clinton, we were able to confirm at least 26 separate White House visits by the secretary of state by using three public Web sites -- the White House's own site, the White House Flickr site and the State Department's site. Our sources column at the right includes the full list of Clinton's 26 visits, with links to the documentation. Since the White House has said that it cannot fulfill our request for a full listing of Clinton's White House visits, it's possible that the number of Clinton visits is actually higher. (And we have not included instances in which Clinton met with the president in locations away from the White House itself, such as flights aboard Air Force One and foreign travel, even though we found evidence documenting those sorts of visits as well.)
So, while Beck did pass along a widely reported finding as he made his point about Stern, the data it was based on was incomplete and out of date by the time of his show, and ultimately the conclusion he drew was incorrect. We rate his statement False.
Published: Monday, December 7th, 2009 at 6:22 p.m.
on his television show, Dec. 3, 2009
Breitbart.tv, "Meet President Obama's Most Frequent White House Visitor" ( video ), accessed Dec. 7, 2009
Marxists.org, translation of the Communist Manifesto, accessed Dec. 7, 2009
Wall Street Journal , " SEIU’s Stern Tops White House Visitor List ," Oct. 30, 2009
The White House, visitor log disclosure main page , accessed Dec. 7, 2009
The White House, visitor log database through Aug. 31, 2009, accessed Dec. 7, 2009
The White House, "Transparency like you’ve never seen before" ( blog post ), Oct. 30, 2009
The White House, "November Release of White House Visitor Records" ( blog post ), Nov. 25, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office shortly after she was confirmed and sworn in ," Jan. 21, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama at a NSC Meeting in the Situation Room ," March 16, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, remarks by President Barack Obama and Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen at St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Ceremony, March 17, 2009
White House Flickr page, "
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speak together sitting at a picnic table
," April 9, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, " The President sets his priorities for his Cabinet in their first meeting ," April 20, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama holds a Homeland Security Council meeting to discuss H1N1 flu in the Cabinet Room ," May 1, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, press briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, May 6, 2009
White House Flickr page, "
President Barack Obama listens to Defense Secretary Robert Gates ... during a Situation Room meeting
," May 11, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, press briefing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on humanitarian aid to Pakistan, May 19, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama speaks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the President's talk with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office ," May 28, 2009
White House Flickr page, " Vice President Joe Biden speaks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outside the Oval Office ," June 10, 2009
White House Flickr page, " Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones, and other White House senior staff watch President Barack Obama from the Colonnade during a press conference in the Rose Garden with President Lee Myung-Bak of the Republic of Korea ," June 16, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama greets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before their meeting outside the Oval Office ," June 22, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama looks out of the Oval Office for other aides before a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ," July 1, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office ," July 15, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, remarks by the president on signing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities proclamation, July 24, 2009
White House Flickr page, " Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton laughs at a remark by Vice President Joe Biden as they wait for the start of a press statement by President Barack Obama and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Oval Office ," Aug. 18, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, " President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pose with the full Cabinet for an official group photo in the East Room of the White House ," Sept. 10, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama listens during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House ," Sept. 17, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, " President Barack Obama and his national security team meet Sept. 29, 2009, in the Situation Room ," Sept. 29, 2009
White House Flickr page, "
President Barack Obama listens during a meeting about the current situation in Pakistan in the Situation Room
," Oct. 7, 2009
White House Flickr page, " President Barack Obama meets with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office ," Oct. 8, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, " The President speaks to members of the press at the conclusion of his afternoon Cabinet meeting ," Nov. 23, 2009
White House Flickr page, " Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chats with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama prior to the state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India ," Nov. 24, 2009
Whitehouse.gov, event on the eve of World AIDS Day 2009 , Nov. 30, 2009
State Department Web site, Secretary of State's appointment schedule , Dec. 7, 2009
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag