Washington Post Reduces Tom Cotton’s Pinocchio Rating over Boston Bomber Stimulus Check

boston bomber check
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The Washington Post reduced Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-AK) Pinocchio rating from 2021 after it was revealed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did receive a coronavirus relief payment from a bill Democrats passed last year.

In March 2021, as Congress debated passing another coronavirus relief bill, Senator Cotton warned the piece of legislation would allow for violent criminals like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Dylan Roof to receive a government check.

At the time, the Washington Post argued Cotton had engaged in “scaremongering” as well as political “theater,” asserting stimulus checks would not be sent to the Boston bomber.

“The goal was to get checks out as quickly as possible without burdensome regulations,” argued the Post. “It’s hard to craft rules that target mass murderers without also penalizing the families of people in prison for much less heinous crimes.”

Several months later, it turns out Cotton told the truth and Tsarnaev actually did receive $1,400 in coronavirus relief payments that prosecutors are now demanding that he pay to the victim relief funds. On Thursday, the Washington Post reduced the rating from two Pinocchios to just one Pinocchio – the equivalent of “Mostly True,” knocking Cotton only for lacking context.

Cotton primarily received the Two-Pinocchio rating because his comments lacked context. He suggested this problem was the result of something Democrats did, when he had previously voted for legislation with the same language that allowed for checks to be issued to prisoners. He also made it clear that he intended weaponize this debate for campaign ads.

Still, Cotton’s predictive powers should be acknowledged. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check — and Tsarnaev did. Now, if the government is successful, this money will go to victims. So Tsarnaev still will not keep it. But in retrospect, the use of the phrase of “scaremongering” was inappropriate. Cotton had raised a legitimate issue of concern, even if he framed it in a political way. The term “hyped up” in the headline went too far as well.

Prior to the update, Cotton’s press secretary James Arnold contacted the Post demanding that the publication fix the rating.

“You portrayed Senator Cotton’s amendment as pure political theater—’not serious legislation’—warning of an outcome that, according to your article, was very unlikely to happen,” Arnold wrote. “Now that it has in fact happened, we’re asking that you update your story to include that Senator Cotton’s concerns did come true.”

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