WashPost’s Kessler Touts ‘Most Popular’ Fact Checks of 2021; Only One for Biden!

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler displayed his top ten most popular articles of the year on CNN this morning, and remarkably, our gaffe-frequenting president only earned one spot on the list. Even the journalist who infamously abandoned a falsehood database for President Biden seemed surprised by this. 

On New Day, guest host John Avlon welcomed Kessler for this “thankless job,” before discussing the most popular fact check of the year with Post readers, “debunking the claim that the Taliban had seized $85 billion” dollars of U.S. weapons.”

Avlon scoffed at this “partisan stat” from the right. Kessler tried to diminish the fact that billions of dollars of weapons were left behind in Afghanistan after President Biden’s disastrous evacuation:

Right, so that’s the — that $85 billion number, it is actually 83, technically, was the number for all money appropriated to Afghan security forces. But only about 75 billion of it even got to Afghanistan and then less than 30% of that even went to weapons. So you can see already way lower than $85 billion, you’re in the $20 billion dollar range, and a lot of those weapons, that’s a figure over 20, 25 — 20–20 years, so uh, the actual number of weapons that were abandoned, most of which before the army left they disabled is much, much smaller. 

And this was supposed to make Biden’s Afghanistan debacle look better? 

Kessler also fact-checked Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert over an exaggerated personal story about why she open-carries and dunked on Republican Congressman Jim Jordan for saying Nancy Pelosi denied a request for National Guard presence prior to January 6 by the Capitol Police when he could find no evidence to support this. The Post likes to go after Republicans’ tall tales but avoids Democrats’ fake stories like the plague

That is why President Biden, who has a long history of lying and gaffes, only secured one entry in the top ten.

AVLON: For sure. And I want to go– to point out it is not just Republicans telling tall tales all the time. Biden falsely claiming that the Georgia election law that imposed new restrictions on voting ended early voting hours. But that wasn’t exactly true, was it? 

KESSLER: No. There are issues with what people can raise about aspects of that law, but for some reason the President kept harping on the idea that it would cut voting hours, and actually it expanded voting opportunities in large parts of Georgia. And it didn’t affect voting hours on election day. This is something he said about three times, and we could never get an explanation as to why he kept saying it.

Hmm, maybe because Biden kept hearing this lie on CNN?

Kessler feigned surprise his Biden fact checks didn’t interest the Post’s far-left readers. “Interestingly, we fact checked Joe Biden more than any other politician or person this past year, but fact checks about Biden don’t initially get the eyeballs you would expect,” he shrugged. Avlon seemed unbothered by it as well, quipping, “Well, maybe a volume issue as well.” But in 2019, CNN was enthralled by Kessler giving President Trump tens of thousands of fact checks.

While Biden got one fact-check from Kessler, the journalist actually defended Biden twice in this top ten list: on the Afghanistan pullout, and a “viral” tweet that was only up for a few hours misquoting Biden. Which follows Kessler’s partisan pattern

The dismissal of the Wuhan lab leak theory as the origin of COVID-19 also earned a fact checking spot. But Kessler wouldn’t put blame on his paper or CNN or The New York Times or even himself for dismissing this theory as a fringe conspiracy and trashing Republicans like Senators Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz who were early proponents of the lab leak theory.

This CNN segment also skipped over Kessler defending Anthony Fauci twice from criticism over the NIH paying for gain-of-function research in Wuhan.

CNN and the Washington Post slanted fact checking was sponsored by advertiser Whole Foods, contact them at the Conservatives Fight Back page linked.

Read the transcript now:

CNN New Day

12/28/2021

JOHN AVLON: Fact checking can be a thankless job. But, hey, somebody’s gotta do it. The political landscape in 2021 has provided a seemingly endless supply of work for journalists like the Washington Post’s Glen Kessler, who’s tasked with setting the record straight and doling out the Pinocchios. He joins us now to discuss the most popular fact checks of the past year. Glen, good to see you. 

WASHINGTON POST FACT-CHECKER, GLENN KESSLER: Glad to be with you. 

AVLON: Alright let’s start with number one, the most popular article you published this year, debunking the claim that the Taliban had seized $85 billions, billions with a B, of U.S. weapons. Walk us through that one. 

KESSLER: Right, so that’s the — that $85 billion number, it is actually 83, technically, was the number for all money appropriated to Afghan security forces. But only about 75 billion of it even got to Afghanistan and then less than 30% of that even went to weapons. So you can see already way lower than $85 billion, you’re in the $20 billion dollar range, and a lot of those weapons, that’s a figure over 20, 25 — 20–20 years, so uh, the actual number of weapons that were abandoned, most of which before the army left they disabled is much, much smaller. 

AVLON: That is a key fact to disrupt that partisan stat. 

Another popular piece you dealt with this year was the lab leak theory of the origins of the coronavirus. There was initially a lot of pushback, but then evidence started coming in that really sparked some serious investigations. And certainly no one should be calling that a conspiracy theory now. Walk us through it. 

KESSLER: Right. So what I did there was I — I created a timeline that led readers through all the key events and the articles by scientists and, you know, expert opinion that led people to more increasingly decide that the lab leak theory was possible, I mean, most experts still believe the coronavirus emerged out of nature, you know, from an animal to a human, but there are questions raised about the way that that lab was operated and some of the tests they were doing in that lab that gave new credence to that theory. So that fact check helped readers understand how the scientific consensus had changed over the last two years. 

AVLON: And certainly the lack of Chinese transparency and cooperation doesn’t help clear that up, but it does raise additional questions. You also fact check number three the political origins story spread by representative Lauren Boebert, Republican from Colorado. Now, she claimed she began to allow her staff to carry guns after a man was killed outside her restaurant. But, wait, what’s the real story there, Glen? 

KESSLER: Right, yeah. I obtained, you know, coroner’s reports and police documents, but what happened was there was a guy involved in an apparent drug transaction at several blocks away from her restaurant, and then he collapsed as he was running away. And it had nothing to do with a murder. The way she described it, he was killed in a fight or something like that. The fight took place far away from her restaurant, and, you know, it was determined within a day that this had been a drug overdose. So it was a story that was, you know, convenient for her politically, helped explain her politics and why she went into politics and why she let her staff carry guns at the restaurant, but it was very far from the truth. 

AVLON: For sure. And I want to go– to point out it is not just Republicans telling tall tales all the time. Biden falsely claiming that the Georgia election law that imposed new restrictions on voting ended early voting hours. But that wasn’t exactly true, was it? 

KESSLER: No. There are issues with what people can raise about aspects of that law, but for some reason the president kept harping on the idea that it would cut voting hours, and actually it expanded voting opportunities in large parts of Georgia. And it didn’t affect voting hours on election day. This is something he said about three times, and we could never get an explanation as to why he kept saying it. Interestingly, we fact checked Joe Biden more than any other politician or person this past year, but fact checks about Biden don’t initially get the eyeballs you would expect. 

AVLON: Well maybe a volume issue as well. Real quick, I want to get to number five, because it is about January 6th. You fact check claims from representative Jim Jordan that Nancy Pelosi denied a request for reinforcements for the Capitol Police from the National Guard. What’s the truth about that?

KESSLER: Well there is no evidence at all to support that. This is an example of how some Republicans have tried to reframe January 6th and point the blame in other directions. Pelosi is a common person that they would blame. In this case, this was a tweet by Jim Jordan, we looked into it, there also has been lots of public testimony, there is absolutely no evidence to support what he claimed. 

AVLON: Thank you Glenn Kessler for all that you do, wrapping up 2021. Here’s to 2022, I know there’ll be more fact-checks ahead.

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