One of the most frustrating things about "fact-checkers" is how they leap on conservative rhetoric against Democrats as "false" or "missing context" but give Democrats a pass to say the wildest, nastiest things about conservatives.
For example, PolitiFact pounced on Georgia Sen. David Perdue as a "Pants on Fire" liar for calling his opponent Sen. Jon Ossoff a "socialist." They gave Donald Trump a "Pants on Fire" rating for calling Ossoff and his fellow Georgia Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock "radical" and "the most extreme far-left candidates in the history of our country."
But President Joe Biden can go to Atlanta and suggest that anyone who opposes the Democrat "voting rights" bill has taken the side of George Wallace, Bull Connor and Jefferson Davis, and...crickets.
Sometimes the exaggerations aren't character assassination. On the Jan. 6 anniversary, Vice President Kamala Harris compared 1/6 to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Fact-checkers said nothing...except Snopes.com threw a "Mostly False" at conservative radio host Todd Starnes for saying Harris said 1/6 was "worse" than 9/11. Matthew Dowd actually said that in 2021 — and the fact-checkers yawned.
Here's a brief rundown of the top fact-checkers on Biden's Atlanta speech: PolitiFact? Nothing. FactCheck.org? Nothing. AP Fact Check? Nothing. Reuters? Nothing. CNN's Daniel Dale team? Nothing. Snopes? Nothing. Lead Stories? Nothing.
Lead Stories did offer a UFO check this month, that "Biden, Harris Did NOT Visit Area 51 By Plane On January 8, 2022."
The exception to this depressing rule is Washington Post "Fact Checker" head Glenn Kessler. He did not throw "Pinocchios" at Biden's Bull Connor garbage. But he did apply the maximum "Four Pinocchios" rating to another passage in the Atlanta speech, when Biden claimed he was so "damn old" he'd been arrested for civil-rights protesting. Kessler pointed out that Biden has a history of claiming he's been arrested, including in South Africa while he was trying to see Nelson Mandela, when there's no proof Biden's been arrested for anything.
Kessler concluded, "The primary source for this story is Biden — and we've learned over the years that he is not always a reliable source." But remember, Kessler has no running Biden lie-counter like he did for Trump, and he won't write a book about all of Biden's lies, like he did for Trump. This is because he works for the Biden-backing Washington Post.
The Post fact-checker also recently exemplified the tendency to preemptively scream "Missing Context" when Republicans mock Democrats. Last March, Kessler threw two Pinocchios at Sen. Tom Cotton for predicting that Charleston mass shooter Dylann Roof would get a $1,400 relief check from the Democrats' COVID "relief" package. Now we've learned Boston Marathon terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev received that relief check, so Kessler publicly (and partially) walked back his attack on Cotton. But he kept a single Pinocchio for bad context.
There were no Pinocchios at all in an article titled "The Senate battle over whether election laws signify a new 'Jim Crow.'" Kessler quoted Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer claiming, "The heirs of Jim Crow are weakening the foundations of our democracy," and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling this rhetoric "nonsensical." Overall, it was a useful review of state voting laws. But despite calling it "rhetorical overkill," there were zero Pinocchios for Schumer.
No one expects liberal "fact-checkers" to mark it as a broken promise that when Biden was proclaimed winner of the 2020 election, he claimed it was "a time to heal in America," a time to "marshal the forces of decency." Liberals are staunchly in favor of smash-mouth, our-way-or-you're-racist politicking. Being decent or factual doesn't matter — only winning does.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.