Column: Joe and Kamala’s Fact-Mangling Debut

News & Politics

The new Democratic ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris debuted in Delaware on August 12, followed by the typically frantic competition in partisan sugar-sculpting on cable “news.” But MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell took the saccharine prize by claiming that there was not a single false utterance in 35 minutes.

The energetic promoters of “independent fact-checkers” – who want “real-time” fact-checking for Trump — couldn’t muster any effort to evaluate this thunderclap of leftist rhetoric echoing in a nearly empty high-school gym. Let’s list a few fact-mangling whoppers. Start with Biden.

1. Trump/Pence gave us “four years of mismanagement and coddling of terrorists and thugs around the world.” Did Trump “coddle” Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS? No, he’s dead. Did Trump “coddle” Iranian terrorist Qasim Soleimani? He’s dead, too. Biden opposed taking down Osama bin Laden, so he should sit a spell.

2. Trump has no “plan” on the pandemic and “no real help for the states and local governments trying to fill the vacuum of leadership from the White House. No real help for children and educators, for small businesses and front line workers.” We didn’t allocate $3 trillion on mitigating the pandemic, aiding governments and businesses and vaccine development?

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3. Trump was referring to neo-Nazis and racists when he said “there are very fine people on both sides” in the Charlottesville protests in 2017.  This is transparently false…and yet fact checkers like PolitiFact go limp and let Biden unspool this lie. Reporters at the time prodded Trump and he explicitly condemned the neo-Nazis and racists.

4. Trump is “on track to leave office with the worst jobs record of any American president in modern history.” In January, reported “The economy added 6.7 million jobs, and unemployment fell to the lowest rate in half a century.” We’re now in a pandemic which shocked the economy, but it’s now recovering. Does anyone think if this happened under President Hillary, the “fact checkers” would let a Republican blame the Democrats for the economy?

5. Likewise, Kamala Harris said “The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” And Trump “inherited the longest economic expansion in history…And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground.” Did Democrats oppose the lockdown, kicking and screaming? Shouldn’t they share responsibility for it?

6. Harris insisted “After the most competitive primary in history, the country received a resounding message that Joe was the person to lead us forward.” That’s a joke. There were a huge number of candidates, but it didn’t end up competitive at all, in part because of the pandemic. It certainly didn’t match Obama vs. Clinton in 2008.

7. Harris said “I cannot wait for America to get to know my husband Doug and our amazing kids, Cole and Ella.” Our? Facebook labels claims like this as “Missing Context.” They’re Kamala’s stepkids from her 2014 marriage, and they’re now 24 and 18.

8. Speaking of terrible context, Harris tried to compare the coronavirus pandemic to the Ebola outbreak of 2014: “Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people in the United States died, two. That is what’s called leadership.” These are apples and oranges in epidemiology. Ebola is much deadlier to someone infected than the coronavirus. But the spread isn’t nearly the same, since you’re not infectious with Ebola until you have symptoms, and you’re quickly bedridden.

The nation’s most influential newspapers largely skipped over many of these troubling quotes in their accounts. Did that occur because they knew how unfactual these claims were?

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