Michelle Obama's chief speechwriter, Sarah Hurwitz, pointedly stressed the importance of White House fact-checkers in an op-ed for USA Today on Thursday. "The truth is that one of the most important and time-consuming parts of our jobs in the Obama White House, as in all recent administrations, was also the least glamorous: fact-checking," Hurwitz wrote. "The thought of the president or first lady inadvertently saying something untrue to any of these people because we hadn't thoroughly checked it — that was unbearable to us, and it would have been unacceptable to them."
The op-ed does not reference President Donald Trump by name, although the accusation can be read between the lines. Trump was heavily criticized for asserting in a speech Saturday that his inauguration crowd "went all the way back to the Washington Monument," despite photographic evidence proving such a statement untrue. Trump and his staff have also claimed that "millions" of people voted illegally in the 2016 U.S. election, although they have not provided evidence to back up such claims.
"While our fact-checkers occasionally drove us crazy, we were incredibly grateful for their work," Hurwitz wrote. "It is an awesome — and terrifying — responsibility to write speeches for the leader of the free world and his or her spouse. Their words can affect markets and cause international incidents. And through their speeches, the president and first lady speak directly to the American people about their most pressing and personal concerns." Read more about the White House speechwriters and fact-checkers at USA Today.