Why has fact-checking disappeared under Biden?
Fact-checking under President Trump was a bustling business. Seemingly every day, and sometimes by the hour, the 45th president’s every word was scrutinized, which all comes with the job.
But under President Biden, fact checkers are enjoying what feels like extended vacations or have simply checked out in terms of scrutinizing the many ways that he is misleading the public.
Take CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale as a prime example of apathy around holding the current president accountable.
From June 2019 until November 2020, Dale appeared or was mentioned on CNN more than once per day, on average, according to Mediaite. Estimating conservatively,
that’s more than 500 appearances or mentions on a national network in the span of just 16 months.
But Dale has become the fact-checker version of Edward Snowden under Biden. He’s almost impossible to find these days. In fact, Dale has not conducted even one fact-check of the president since June.
Of course, Biden supporters will insist that Dale simply doesn’t have any material to work with. But that’s not true. In August, Biden declared that inflation in July was zero, despite the number being near a 40-year high at 8.3 percent.
Last week, Biden claimed the Inflation Reduction Act, which numerous studies have concluded will do almost nothing to reduce inflation, had already “helped reduce inflation at the kitchen table.” In a related story, food prices rose again in August, with the Consumer Price Index up 10.6 percent year-over-year.
There are many other examples from the summer, but you get the point: The most powerful man in the country needs to be held accountable for his words and actions, particularly in an election year, when each side is attempting to shape the narrative through the press. But fact-checkers at mainstream outlets refuse to do it.
The situation is worse when it comes to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She has been fact-checked only once by Politifact since June.
This is the same press secretary who claimed earlier this month that people aren’t just walking into this country across the U.S. Southern border, when in fact it’s happening daily, per border agents and reporting on the ground.
She also claimed the Biden administration is “doing a lot more [than the Trump administration] to secure the border.”
Yup. She claimed that the administration that halted border wall construction and ended the effective “Remain in Mexico” policy is doing more than the previous administration to secure the border.
In a related story, the numbers don’t lie: More than 2 million migrants will come into this country illegally this year, an all-time record. This is the easiest of fact-checks to make, but Politifact doesn’t seem interested. Why?
Overall, since taking over for Jen Psaki on May 13, Jean-Pierre has not been fact-checked at all by Factcheck.org, the Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post or CNN. This is the equivalent of being a toll collector in an E-Z Pass lane, a job that doesn’t require, you know, actually working.
The perception of fact-checkers has taken a big hit as a result, at least among Republicans and independents. A Pew Research survey found that seven in 10 self-identified Republicans say fact-checkers favor one side, while nearly half of independents feel the same way.
The midterm elections are 50 days from now. The balance of power in Washington hangs in the balance. More than ever, words matter.
Lies and half-truths must be called out. It shouldn’t matter if a Republican or Democrat occupies the Oval Office. Fact-checkers must hold lawmakers and other public officials accountable without favor to party.
But apparently fact-checkers are mostly on a four-year sabbatical at this point. And it’s pathetic.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.