The Washington Post’s fact-checking rampage against Republicans and right-of-center claims marches on. In late March, after Breitbart News reported that, for the first three months of 2015, the WaPo fact-check column targeted Republicans twice as often as Democrats, the column’s editor, Glenn Kessler, assured Breitbart News readers that, “You need to look at the whole year to be fair.”
Well, with just 13 weeks left in the year, the likelihood that anything approaching an equal scrutiny of claims by Democrats and Republicans appears impossible.
By the end of March, Kessler’s fact check column had already targeted Republican and right-of-center claims a total of 32 times. In these same categories, Democrats and left-of-center claims were fact-checked 16 times, exactly half as many.
In the almost six months since the end of March, through today (September 22), the ratio has remained almost as bad, with Republicans and right-of-center claims being targeted 60 times, compared to just 38 for Democrats.
So far, throughout all of 2015, Republicans have been targeted 92 times, Democrats only 54.
I say this a lot, but it is especially true for our unbiased, objective fact-checkers at the Washington Post…
Democrats sure got it good.
Especially President Obama.
Despite the fact that he is a sitting President, over the last 6 months WaPo has only fact-checked 3 of President Obama’s claims. Hold on to your hats: Only one Obama claim about the Iran deal was fact-checked, and that involved the President’s claim about the deal’s popularity.
Although the Iran Deal is the most consequential foreign policy deal in a generation, only two other fact checks of the deal have so far been done. One had nothing to do with the deal, the other actually called Democrat Chuck Schumer (who opposes the deal) a liar for his accurate claim that the agreement allows 24 days for inspections. (It’s actually longer than 24 days when you add the time needed to start the 24 day clock.)
Not one of the administration’s claims about the actual Iran Deal has been fact-checked. What has been fact-checked, though, is a Rand Paul claim about Reganomics.
This goes way beyond journalistic malpractice.
As I did before, I reached out to Kessler prior to publishing. He’s always more willing than most in the mainstream media to respond. Here’s the relevant part of his response.
Here is the average Pinocchio rating since Sept. 4, 2013.
GOP average: 2.84
Dem average: 2.68
That’s actually relatively close. So more checks of Republicans have been done, but overall, neither party comes out smelling like roses.
My only excuse is that there are 17 Republicans to keep track of, compared to at best three or four Democrats. We also have a bio series of five fact checks per candidate; that’s five just for Scott Walker last week. So since April, here are some numbers on candidate fact checks:
Clinton (D): 11
Chaffee (D) 1
Sanders (D): 6
O’Malley (D): 2
*includes one Geppetto
**includes two Geppettos
As you can, no candidate has been fact checked more than Hillary Clinton since April. If we had a bigger field of Democratic candidates, I think the numbers would be more balanced.
Geppettos mean the claim was found true.
While I appreciate that Kessler is no longer trying to sell the idea that these numbers will even out by the end of the year, respectfully, the big problem with Kessler’s response is that he’s moving the goal posts as though the fact check column is now some kind of Election Fact Check Column.
The sitting President of the United States is a Democrat currently involved in some very big things (Iran, ISIS, immigration, the budget) and he is receiving a total pass — as are statements by all kinds of powerful Democrats about the very things he’s involved in. This is the most powerful man in the world but Scott Walker is being gotcha’d with stupid fact checks about whether or not he inspired Occupy Wall Street.
Donald Trump and Rand Paul both had their presidential announcement speeches fact-checked. Not a single one of the Democrats have faced something like that.
And whether or not the Pinocchios average out is not the issue. The issue is that for nearly a year, Republicans have been called liars on the pages of the Washington Post almost twice as often as Democrats.
That’s not a bug of a presidential campaign, that’s a feature of an editorial choice.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC