In a decision likely to feed critics’ opinions that the major media outlets are hypocritical and biased against Republicans, the Washington Post said Wednesday it is ending a false-claims project launched at the beginning of former President Donald Trump’s term and now has “no plans” to launch a similar project as President Joe Biden begins his tenure.
“The database of Trump claims was started a month after Trump became president as a way to not overwhelm our fact-checking enterprise, where the core mission is to explain complex policy issues,” Post director of communications Shani George told The Daily Caller.
“While we do not have plans to launch a Biden database at this time, we will continue to dig into the accuracy of statements by political figures of all party affiliations,” George added.
For the duration of Trump’s four years in office, the Post claims he made 30,573 misleading or false statements, a figure that was posted online shortly after Biden was sworn in on Wednesday.
Glenn Kessler, an editor and chief fact-checker for the Post, remarked on Twitter he “never would have believed this number was possible when” the project “started four years ago.”
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) January 20, 2021
The Post itself, however, has had problems getting facts straight as well throughout Trump’s tenure, including Kessler himself.
In April, Kessler was forced to correct himself following a viral Twitter thread that was meant to fact-check the former president after Trump took issue with a Department of Health and Human Services inspector general report that said hospitals were experiencing a shortage of equipment needed to handle COVID-19.
In an April 7 tweet, Trump called out the HHS IG and asked whether the agency did a report “on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?”
“Guess what, the HHS IG did do a lengthy examination of the government’s response to the swine flu in 2009. Let’s tweet out a few key findings,” Kessler responded on Twitter the same day.
But that wasn’t true. The HHS IG, which is independent from the rest of Health and Human Services, did not actually commission the report that the WaPo fact-checker mentioned.
“The report was not an [IG] product,” the agency’s spokeswoman, Melissa Rumley, told the Daily Caller at the time.
Kessler would go on to delete his tweet and issue a mea culpa.
Rule #1: never try to do an instant fact check on Twitter. I tweeted from a government report, incorrectly saying it was an IG report, when in fact it was not. Dumb mistake, and I am glad it was brought to my attention. I have deleted the tweet, shown below, mea culpa. pic.twitter.com/DXqiSUOXHS
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) April 16, 2020
In addition, the Post claimed throughout the first half of Trump’s term that the so-called ‘Russian collusion’ claims were accurate when subsequent investigations found that they were not. And more recently, the Post was dinged by then-acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell for publishing a claim that President Trump was repeatedly warned about the coronavirus.
“This isn’t true. And we told you this before you wrote. And you put the DNI denial of your premise in paragraph 9,” Grenell wrote April 28.
This isn’t true. And we told you this before you wrote. And you put the DNI denial of your premise in paragraph 9. https://t.co/kVYJvGxL0r
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) April 28, 2020
On Thursday, One America News’ Jack Prosobiec tweeted out screengrabs of two headlines — one from the Post’s fact-checker stating “Trump campaign promotes false claim that Biden would end fracking,” and one from editor Katie Pavlich at Townhall stating, “Biden Administration: Yes We are Following Through With a Fracking Ban.”
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) January 21, 2021
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