Fact checking versus “fact checking” in the Trump era

As we get closer and closer to the election, one thing you can count on is that there will be a ton of fact-checking going on, even if Biden refuses to do any debates. But one thing to keep an eye on is the level and severity of the fact-checking in question and how it’s applied to the two candidates. One good example came to us this weekend from the Associated Press. I thought we might have a bit of fun today and do a simple compare and contrast exercise to see how their coverage stacks up in terms of the “fair and balanced” standard that everyone is supposed to apply.

This particular piece comes to us from AP reporters Hope Yen and Calvin Woodward. Let’s just start with the title, shall we? “AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s torrent of falsehoods, Biden missteps

Ahem. Trump is tagged as invoking a dramatic “torrent of falsehoods.” Not just a few lies, mind you. It’s a “torrent.” And what about Joe Biden? Oh, he’s just made a few “missteps.” Nothing intentional, to be sure. Just a few simple mistakes any of us could make.

Okay, so let’s look at a few droplets from the aforementioned “torrent.” They first peg Trump for “lying” about COVID-19 because he said, “we are rounding the corner.” The AP quotes one source in response, Dr. Fauci, because he told MSNBC that he “disagreed.” But his concerns were based on wishing that the baseline numbers were even lower going into the fall. Meanwhile, the CDC said this last week.

After declining since mid-July, the percentage of laboratory specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 nationally increased slightly during week 35 but then decreased during week 36. Indicators that track influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19-like illness (CLI) continued to decrease or remain stable (change of ≤0.1%) nationally and in all 10 regions; however, due to COVID-19 activity, one region reported levels of ILI above the region-specific baseline. Weekly hospitalization rates and mortality attributed to COVID-19 declined during week 36. Mortality attributed to COVID-19 remains above the epidemic threshold.

The numbers continue to decline, as much as most cable news networks hate to admit it. Sound like they’re going in the right direction to me. Let’s look at another one.

TRUMP: “Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban Population!” — tweet Sunday.

THE FACTS: No such award exists.

Trump got an endorsement in 2016 from the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, the first ever from the group of Florida-based veterans who fought in the United States’ failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government in the 1961 invasion. But no award comes with it.

So in a moment of excitement, Trump described the announced support of the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association as an “award” rather than an “endorsement.” (The first time they’ve ever given an endorsement, by the way.) Oh, dear! What a huge “lie” to tell! Give me a break.

Next, they call out Trump for lying when he said during one rally that “We’re developing a vaccine in record time. It will be ready before the end of the year and maybe much sooner than that.”

The AP responds by saying “He’s almost certainly raising unrealistic hopes.” Seriously? His hopes may turn out to be unrealistic and we may not have a vaccine by then, but he’s making a prediction. The prediction has not yet been proven wrong or correct and we won’t know that until the end of the year. How do you fact check a prediction???

They then go on to ding Trump for saying that Biden wants to ban fracking, copying the rest of the liberal media by saying that Biden “misstated his position.” Well, he “misstated” it pretty often and only flip-flopped when called out on it. This one is beyond tiresome at this point.

But what did the Associated Press find to fact check Biden about? They called him out for saying that his son Beau had been feted in Kosovo for his accomplishments, saying, “They erected a monument to him thanking him for his service, I think the only American that they did that for.”

Out of all of that, the thing the AP found to correct was that Beau does indeed have a monument in his honor in Kosovo (and a road named after him, which they throw in even though Joe never mentioned it) but he’s not the only American to be so honored. There are statues of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in Kosovo as well.

For Pete’s sake. Read through the rest of it yourself if you can stomach it. I’m not saying that Donald Trump doesn’t tell the occasional whopper or bend the truth to promote his accomplishments. He clearly does. But this “fact check” is composed almost entirely of a series of swings and misses against the President and softball critiques of Biden over minor points. And both Biden and Harris have been out there flip-flopping up a storm this month. But I suppose we wouldn’t want to bring that up, would we?

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