Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is not happy with the Washington Post after they fact-checked him to reveal one of his major talking points about the rising cost of medical bills was false.
Politico reports the Washington Post’s Fact Checker awarded three Pinocchios to Sanders for saying: “500,000 Americans will go bankrupt this year from medical bills.”
“The study on which the claim was based only cited medical costs as a contributing factor in 500,000 bankruptcies a year, and other studies had a somewhat lower figure,” Politico adds.
The Sanders camp seems to think it is only OK for the Fact Checker to go after President Trump:
A false equivalence? Sanders’ team seems to think so – and they’re not alone among Democratic presidential campaigns fuming over fact checkers who appear to give their esoteric policy disputes and faulty recollections the same weight as Trump’s daily whoppers and spreading of self-serving myths like that of millions of fraudulent voters.
The issue is of no small concern, Democratic strategists say.
Trump’s bold lies and spreading of disinformation – which have been regularly cited by almost every mainstream news organization – are a core part of their case against him. But when those same outlets begin parsing Democrats for using questionable data and making exaggerations, they create the impression that everyone’s a fibber. When it comes to lying, Democrats say, Donald Trump has once again broken the bounds of politics as usual, and the media is only helping him by enforcing the old rules.
Wow politico letting us know they are an arm of the dnc! I love it!
— Unwilling to Work (@SageMccallister) September 12, 2019
Sanders is not the only one. Politico reports:
The issue popped up again last week when Sen. Kamala Harris said during a CNN climate town hall that she once sued Exxon Mobil. A fact-checker at the network rightly pointed out that she only investigated Exxon, while suing other oil companies. Harris’s campaign responded not by challenging the point of fact, but fact-checking itself in the Trump era.
“Trump spent the morning potentially illegally teasing out jobs numbers and lying about a massive hurricane’s trajectory, but sure, let’s spend our time on whether, as Attorney General, Kamala ‘sued’ vs. ‘investigated’ Exxon,” Ian Sams, her press secretary, wrote. “When parsing word choice is given the same treatment as intentional lies. . . it blurs the very lines ‘fact checkers’ are supposed to help keep drawn.”
Can’t these Dems see that the Fact Checker is there to do just that: check facts.
And, isn’t that the point of independent fact-checkers?
how dare the media stop for a second bowing down to them
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 12, 2019
Politico reports PolitiFact editor Angie Drobnic Holan responded to the complaint, saying: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Washington Post Fact Checker editor and chief writer Glenn Kessler has checked thousands of statements from President Trump, including many that were false. There are no complaints from the Sanders or Harris camp for those statements, but when the fact-check turns on them all hell breaks loose.
Check out the double standard:
But their decision to grant the Pinocchios to Sanders’ claim about 500,000 people going bankrupt each year from medical bills provoked a fierce reaction. The Sanders campaign disputed the designation in a letter to the Post’s top editor that also included a demand for a retraction.
“The overall premise of the piece is absurd,” Gunnels wrote on Aug. 31 to Post Executive Editor Marty Baron. “The Post’s Fact Checker issued Senator Sanders ‘three pinocchios’ for accurately citing a peer-reviewed editorial published in the American Journal of Public Health.”
“In what world does this merit one so-called ‘pinocchio’ let alone three?” said Gunnels, adding that the Post’s rating falsely attacked Sanders, tarnished the reputation of the author of the editorial, and misled “the public on one of the most serious problems facing the American people.”
Post Managing Editor Cameron Barr responded that the study in question did not determine what causes bankruptcies, as Sanders claimed, but “only factors that contribute to them.” Barr also rejected the campaign’s accusation that there is “a pattern of bias” against it.