The liberal subscribers of the Washington Post adored the latest grand ruling from the paper’s “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler. He asserts President Trump has just crossed the threshold of “10,000 false or misleading claims.” Kessler did a round of interviews with delighted anchors on CNN and MSNBC.
Everyone knows the president can unload a whopper, like when he recently suggested of wind turbines, “They say the noise causes cancer.” But the Post’s 10,000 is a Democratic Party talking point, a marketing strategy to build a liberal subscriber base. “Readers begged us” to do this, Kessler said. Of course they did.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared on “CBS This Morning” on April 29, and co-host Norah O’Donnell asked, “Does it matter if he hits back with lies?” She cited the Post count. Gingrich shot back: “I find it hard to take anything The Washington Post writes seriously.”
Here’s a short list of reasons why he’s right.
1. Bias by target selection. Did the Post have a database of former President Obama’s false or misleading claims? No. Would the Post have a database of President Hillary Clinton’s false or misleading claims if she had won? Don’t be ridiculous. These people parse every sentence in Trump speeches, interviews and tweets. They’re not doing that for anyone else, especially the Democratic candidates now running for president.
The Post wrote a campaign book in 2016 titled “Trump Revealed” — for which Trump gave it hours of interview time. Did the Post write a Clinton book? Don’t be ridiculous. This is why you can’t take the Post seriously as an “objective” source.
2. Nitpicking. Is the Post checking facts or spin? Kessler & Co. fusses that Trump can’t say he’s building a wall at the border. Trump tweeted a picture of a wall being built. It’s clearly a border wall under construction. But Kessler says the money (and the plans) came before Trump, so it’s not “his” wall. Kessler also cried false when Trump said he had “nothing to hide” from the Russia probe “but refused to testify under oath.” Kessler is spinning, not fact-checking.
3. Bias by multiplying nitpicking times 100. Once the Post throws a Pinocchio rating like the border-wall squabble, every time Trump says we’re building the wall, it’s counted as a false statement (160 times). Kessler repeatedly threw the false flag when Trump said there was “no collusion” with Russia. Which side was false on that one?
4. Lack of transparency. The Posties have dramatically increased the rate of the “false claims” it is finding. In announcing the 10,000 number, it claimed, “the president racked up 171 false or misleading claims in just three days, April 25 to 27.” It admits that’s a bigger number than it used to find in a month.
It claims Trump has literally said a falsehood a minute, counting 45 in a 45-minute Sean Hannity interview, 17 falsehoods in a 19-minute Mark Levin interview and 61 false claims in the president’s Saturday night rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But the Post doesn’t list them individually so you can check its work.
5. Pinocchio forgiveness. Kessler also has a weird habit of skipping Pinocchios for Democrats when they call him on the phone and admit they fudged it. The Post just found that Sen. Kamala Harris wrongly stated at a CNN town hall that a majority of women earn the minimum wage. Kessler concluded, “Regular readers know that we generally do not award Pinocchios when politicians admit error, and we certainly give an allowance for a slip of the tongue during a live event. We don’t play gotcha at The Fact Checker.”
Unless you’re Trump. Then you get 10,000 Gotchas.
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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 webpage at www.creators.com.