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Did Obama Exaggerate Truth About Giffords Opening Her Eye for the 'First Time'?


"A major milestone."

You may have seen a few viral links this morning that seemed to indicate that President Obama may not have been totally accurate in his description of Rep. Giffords opening her eyes for the "first time."

A number of sites pointed to a Sunday article in the Tucson Sentinel:

Giffords is in a drug-induced coma in intensive care. Doctors frequently awaken her to check her responsiveness, and she could open her eyes and respond to simple commands Sunday - an encouraging sign, said Rhee said.

I decided to go back and re-watch the doctor's news conference on Sunday.  I couldn't find that exact statement.  Since the Sentinel report was the only citation being referenced, I thought perhaps the reporter may have made an error.  The same article said this:

Giffords cannot speak because she is on a ventilator, and cannot see because of the area of her injury and the surgery requires her eyes be kept closed, the doctors said.

I thought perhaps there was some confusion over her pre-surgery responses and how she was being treated after surgery.

A tweet by the paper's editor also seemed curious:

The Blaze contacted the editor and received this response:

We absolutely stand behind Sunday's report. But that's not to imply that the president was "lying" or wrong in his statement last night.

Sometimes the truth is more complex than soundbites can handle.

Look for a report based on this morning's medical briefing soon.

The paper recently posted a report on the medical briefing today:

"We're seeing spontaneous eye opening," said Dr. Peter Rhee.

Giffords was opening her eye for as long as 15 minutes at a time Thursday, doctors said.

Giffords has flickered her eyes in response to commands before, said Rhee and Dr. G. Michael Lemole.

ABC's Jake Tapper explains it this way:

Doctors today provided a simple explanation: Wednesday was the first time Giffords opened her eyes on her own, which Giffords' neurosurgeon, Dr. Michael Lemole Thursday called “a major milestone.”

“When we examine patients, particularly in this state we have to ‘wake them up,’ give them some stimulus, and with that stimulus they might crack their eyes,” Lemole said today. “That’s very different from speaking to someone and having them open their eyes, or having them open their eyes spontaneously in response to familiarity.”

“Eyes” in the case of Giffords is actually just “eye” since her right eye is bandaged.

The president’s remarks were meant, the White House says, to convey that she had opened her eyes on her own for the first time.

Here's the video of the doctor's explanation today:

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So while the President may have been wrong about her opening her eyes for the "first time," doctors seem comfortable with his account to the nation of what they consider to be a "major milestone."

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