As the national urban crime wave threatens Democrats’ control of Congress next election, the party and its apologists have begun backing away from their prior advocacy of defunding the police. The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, added to this chorus by denouncing “[t]he continuing GOP fiction that President Biden supports defunding police.” Kessler gave the notion that Biden supports defunding the police “four Pinocchios” in his fact-check for the publication.
One of the supposed myths Kessler quoted came from Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who wrote, “The problem [causing the 2021 crime spike] isn’t guns and it isn’t COVID either. It’s violent rioting and the Defund the Police movement, both of which were supported, financially and rhetorically, by the Biden admin.”
The problem isn’t guns and it isn’t COVID either. It’s violent rioting and the Defund the Police movement, both of which were supported, financially and rhetorically, by the Biden admin.
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) June 24, 2021
According to Kessler, “Biden firmly rejected calls from left-wing activists to defund police and in fact said he would double funding for a community policing program that would put more officers on the street.” He cited President Biden’s budget proposal to double funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program from $156.5 million to $388 million. But that is not the full story, since most police officers are hired by local authorities, not the federal government.
In reality, Joe Biden has advocated defunding the police by Kessler’s own definition, and as president, he has selected appointees who share that vision. Kessler noted that “[o]nly in rare instances are liberal advocates calling for the outright elimination of police departments. Proponents by and large want to redirect some funds now spent on police forces.”
Biden proposed exactly that last year. In an interview with left-wing activist Ady Barkan, Biden discussed police methods. He said that when law enforcement officers use discarded military equipment, “they become the enemy. They’re supposed to be protecting these people.”
“But do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?” asked Barkan.
“Yes, absolutely,” Biden replied.
As president, Biden has appointed two people who advocated defunding the police: Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, associate attorney general. Clarke wrote in a Newsweek op-ed last year: “We must invest less in police and more in social workers. … We must invest less in police and more in social supports in our schools. … We must invest less in police and more in mental health aid.” During withering questioning from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Clarke claimed counterintuitively that ““the impetus for writing that op-ed was to make clear that I do not support defunding the police.”
Its contents should not matter, she argued, because “I wrote that op-ed without having the power of the purse-string behind me.”
Gupta testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last June that it is “critical for state and local leaders to heed calls from Black Lives Matter and Movement for Black Lives activists to decrease police budgets and the scope, role, and responsibility of police in our lives.” Kessler wrote that her June 16 testimony has no bearing on her current views, because “what matters for this fact check is her position now — and she made clear during her confirmation that she backs Biden administration policies.”
That is an odd standard for a disinterested fact-checker: It would mean that anyone could lie and be taken at face value, which is the opposite of fact-checking.
2) Biden picked Kristen Clarke who wrote 3x in an op ed, "We must invest less in police”
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 24, 2021
Still, Kessler claimed that Republicans “have no basis for claiming that abolishing police or supporting the defund police movement is a Biden administration position. Indeed, the opposite is true.”
Numerous politicians have backed away from the phrase, and the policy, since it gained acceptance on the Left in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. As violent crime crests, Democratic mayors who promised to defund the police have hiked law enforcement budgets to deal with the consequences of last year’s soft-on-crime policies.
The phrase has become so toxic that it has become a political football. White House adviser Cedric Richmond and spokesperson Jen Psaki have asserted that “Republicans defunded the police” by voting against the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which, among a plethora of unrelated government spending programs, contained some funding for police. The media have likewise tried to redefine the meaning of the controversial policy. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle claimed, “The idea behind Defund the Police is not to take money away from the police force, but to redeploy money in better, smarter ways to keep law enforcement safe.” (Her guest, a left-of-center police chief, promptly contradicted her.) Kessler — who has been accused of a partisan double standard, when he chose to fact check comments by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) that his grandfather had worked as a sharecropper — may be part of the same media effort.
To his credit, Kessler recently performed a fact check that branded Biden’s truth-twisting claims about gun rights and the Second Amendment as “Whoppers.” Unfortunately, that same description sometimes applies to Kessler’s columns.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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