Taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR) declared Tuesday that one of the “takeaways” from President Joe Biden’s inauguration is that “Truth matters again.”
Biden used his Inaugural Address to declare war on those whom, he claimed, lied for a living:
Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson.
There is truth and there are lies.
Lies told for power and for profit.
And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders – leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation — to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.
NPR declared that “truth” was one of the six most important new features of the Biden presidency (original emphasis):
Truth matters again.
When hearing of Trump’s falsehoods, exaggerations and lies, cynics and many Trump supporters dismissed the criticism that Trump faced with a version of an all-too-familiar retort: “Oh, come on. All politicians lie.”
Well, not like what was seen these past four years. Trump made more than 30,000 misleading claims in four years, according to The Washington Post. That’s an average of 20 per day.
What usually happens with a controversial claim is that a politician might take something with a kernel of truth and spin it up. Then it gets litigated in public and in the media, and if that elected official is found to be wrong, most adjust their language to fit within the bounds of acceptability. But Trump could not be shamed.
The news media has to hold leaders of all parties accountable. And Biden will make his fair share of inaccurate or exaggerated claims, and he should be called out on them. But there’s more of a chance now for public debates based on a shared set of facts, rather than “alternative” ones that never existed.
Much of the fact-checking cited by NPR — such as the Post‘s list — was driven by opinion, not reporting. For example, in 2019, the Post dinged Trump for claiming that former President Barack Obama had built a wall around his Washington, DC, home — when in fact it was a fence atop an existing wall, an essentially meaningless distinction.
Biden was forced to abandon his first presidential campaign in 1987 after he lied about his academic record and plagiarized a speech. In his third effort in 2020, he lied repeatedly about President Donald Trump — accusing him falsely of supporting neo-Nazis, for example, or holding a Bible upside down. The media rarely bothered to fact-check him.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.