Let Us Praise The Even-Handed Fact Checker


Glenn Kessler, as I have noted before, tries. The primary Washington Post fact checker leans to the left, and often his biases get the better of him, but he tries. His bias showed up recently when he balked at directly calling the oft repeated propaganda that Obama had an administration that was “historically free of scandal,” the falsehood that it is, but I give him credit for touching the issue, which has become cant in his world of partisan loyalists. Kessler refused to give the claim a rating, saying that there were arguments for and against the proposition.

Kessler brushed up against reality when he wrote, “One thing that is apparent is that Obama has benefited from the fact that the independent counsel law lapsed in 1999, since in another era some of the controversies that have enveloped his administration might have resulted in an independent prosecutor.” Right. And that’s because there were many scandals—the IRS, Fast and Furious, Clinton’s e-mails, the Bowe Bergdahl exchange, the  pay-off for Iran hostages and its cover-up, the VA—that a complicit press didn’t pursue, and a political Justice Department allowed to fade away. Kessler’s job is to debunk false partisan narratives, and that’s is a whopper of one. He blinked.

He did come through last week with a post on Obama’s biggest lies, Four Pinocchios in Kessler-speak. And today, Kessler chose one of the many, many absurd assertions made at the Women’s March, by one of the truly embarrassing members of Congress. Maxine Waters (D-Ca), who said regarding Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos,

“What about that Betsy DeVos? A billionaire who he is picking to head Education who has never seen the inside of a classroom. She has no experience, she has no background. That’s dangerous for our children.”

Kessler takes the gloves off and not only festoons Waters with Pinocchios, he calls her statement “ridiculous,” which it is.

More enlightening, as Waters is often ridiculous, is the poll on the question that Kessler offers. DeVos (full disclosure: many years ago, right out of college, Betsy worked for me as an intern) does have experience, has a background in education, and has certainly seen the insides of many classrooms. Nonetheless, a full 25% of Kessler’s readers polled that they found nothing amiss with Waters’ lie. This is a big, big, problem. We aren’t talking about ignorance and confirmation bias here, like the majority of Republicans who believe that Trump won the popular vote. or the the majority of Democrats who believe that Russia “hacked the election results.” No, those polled all had just read that what Waters said was untrue, and a quarter of them voted that what she said was true anyway.

This is the state of integrity, honesty, bias and responsibility in 2017 America.

Well, keep trying, Glenn. You are going to have a busy four years.



5 thoughts on “Let Us Praise The Even-Handed Fact Checker

  1. Most people think anything Maxine Waters says is ridiculous. It is kind of res ispa loquitur, or perhaps res doofus loquitur.

    When I heard her (erm . . . read her) comment, I thought the classroom meme was simply Waters’ over-the-top rhetoric, straining the limits of machine and hyperbole. In my mind, Waters was referring to DeVos’ elitist status as “a billionaire who [Trump] is picking to head Education”, which is clearly code for the upper 1% owning 99% of the wealth being willfully blind to the rich oppressing the poor and disenfranchised. That also follows Sen Elizabeth Warren’s breathless screed during the Senate hearings that DeVos will be handling billions of dollars of student loans but has no student loan experience, as if the Secretary of Education actually reviews and approves of each and every student loan application.


      • You are probably correct. “Res” means the thing, so, yes, it should be “Doofus”, translating loosely to “:The Doofus speaks [for herself].” I compliment and complement you on your knowledge of Latin. Well done.


        • Hah. My first three years of high school were a long time ago, jvb. Just gigging you. If I were a lefty, I’d use this kind of pedantry as a purported means to undermine the point you were making and conclude with an “Uh uh! Maxine Waters is a legislator of legendary proportions! You’re wrong!” Cheers.

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