BOZELL & GRAHAM: Attack Of The ‘Fact-Checking’ Clones

President Donald Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence looking on, delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Under President Donald Trump, the State of the Union address has become the Super Bowl for the left-leaning “fact-checkers.” It doesn’t matter if Republicans and independents enjoyed it immensely. Like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, these journalists want to rip his speech to pieces because it somehow overflows with “untruths.”

But these supposedly “independent” guardians are failures at fact-checking the Democratic Party response, offered this year by Gretchen Whitmer, who was elected governor of Michigan in 2018. Let’s do a quick roundup of the “fact-checker” focus.

— The Associated Press, as usual, obsessed only about the POTUS under the headline “Trump’s exaggerated ‘great American comeback.'” They offered nine checks on Trump’s veracity and zero fact checks on Whitmer.

— The Washington Post — under fact-checker extraordinaire Glenn Kessler, who insists he has a running count of more than 16,200 “false or misleading claims” by President Trump — offered 31 checks of Trump and zero of Whitmer.

— PolitiFact offered 21 evaluations of Trump’s speech and nothing on Whitmer. In fact, PolitiFact has no page on Whitmer. It has never evaluated her. (It does have a page for “Snooki” of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”)

— FactCheck.org offered 14 checks of Trump and one sentence on how Whitmer was wrong to say that wages “stagnated” under Trump.

— The New York Times stacked up 36 evaluations of Trump’s speech and then offered two on Whitmer, one of which included the wage-stagnation garbage.

Somehow these last two outlets get to look more “fair and balanced” by merely bowing to the notion that the Democratic response isn’t a perfectly shaped bouquet of truth. Add up all these evaluations and Trump had 111 fact checks to Whitmer’s three.

Trump loves to boast and exaggerate, so it’s easy to throw out little “Pinocchio” ratings when Trump claims we have the lowest black unemployment rate in American history, since it’s only been measured since 1972. But it’s literally the lowest ever measured in American history. What the fact-checkers are doing is littering achievements with asterisks, trying to distract from the undeniable fact that unemployment is at record lows for blacks, Hispanics, women, the disabled and undoubtedly other groups Democrats claim to champion.

David Harsanyi at National Review offered a terrific article just taking apart The Washington Post fact check, calling these fact-checkers “janissaries of the Obama legacy.” (Buckley hat tip for the $10 word.) Harsanyi noted that The Post “mentions Obama 13 times in a piece about Trump’s speech.” What resulted was “a litany of partisan arguments masquerading as factual correctives.”

The best part was Harsanyi’s amazement at The Post’s evaluation of this Trump statement: “Thanks to our bold regulatory-reduction campaign, the United States has become the number-one producer of oil and natural gas in the world, by far.” It’s true that America became No. 1 in former President Obama’s second term. But does Obama deserve credit?

Obama ran for president promising to inhibit energy production, coal and oil. A Republican Congress and the Supreme Court foiled his plans. Harsanyi observes: “It’s quite the trick to not only censure Trump for bragging about oil and gas production but then, in the same fact check, confer on all the credit on Obama, who did everything in his power — including banning drilling on most public lands — to inhibit exploration and production.”

Did these Obama defenders gear up to attack Obama’s State of the Union addresses? A quick peek at Obama’s speech in 2012, his reelection year, found PolitiFact could only muster three fact checks of Obama — and two of Sen. Marco Rubio’s Republican rebuttal — compared with its 21-0 smacking of Trump.

Someone should fact-check PolitiFact boss Angie Drobnic Holan every time she claims, “PolitiFact seeks to present true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.” That deserves a “Pants on Fire.”

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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