Mainstream Media fact checkers: opinion pundits in disguise

Exclusive Commentary by Harlan Hill

Harlan Hill

The mainstream media’s so-called “fact checkers” had to get pretty creative in order to find flaws in President Trump’s Oval Office address last week.

Originally designed to help people sift through the lies and half-truths told by politicians and other public figures, fact-checking has evolved into just another manifestation of the media obsession with denigrating Donald Trump.

In fact, some journalists were preemptively calling President Trump a liar hours before he even delivered his border security remarks to the American people. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough actually called the American people “stupid” for believing that there is a border crisis in the first place.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that left-leaning media outlets enlisted their fact checkers to scrutinize the President’s speech, in some cases even fact-checking the address in real time. When President Trump defied their expectations by giving a rigorously fact-based address, the media simply pushed out blatantly biased fact-checks that split hairs to dispute accurate facts and challenged unfalsifiable opinions.

Take the fact-check from The New York Times, for instance, which raises eight concerns about elements of President Trump’s speech, yet is only able to deem two of them “false” despite taking significant liberties with that designation.

The Times labels the President’s claim that Democrats are the only reason the federal government remains partially shut down as “false,” for instance, by arguing that the Democrats “have offered $1.3 billion in funding for border security measures” and noting that the President previously said he would take responsibility for the shutdown.

The truth is, President Trump has consistently maintained that it’s impossible to have true border security without a border wall, while the Democrats have largely avoided giving specifics on their preferred approach to border security other than rejecting any funding for a wall. Labeling the President’s remark “false” was just a deceptive way for the Times to endorse the Democrat position.

Would the Times still have called President Trump’s remark “false” if the Democrats had only offered, say, $10 in funding for “border security” measures? Ignoring the disagreement over what constitutes real border security was a gross abuse of the paper’s already-slim credibility, and a tremendous disservice to readers seeking accurate information about this important policy debate.

Likewise, the President didn’t actually blame the Democrats for initiating the shutdown, as the Times claimed, but merely asserted that their refusal to fund the wall is standing in the way of reopening the government. This important distinction was also completely ignored by the “Gray Lady.”

The other “false” verdict was given to President Trump’s statement that the wall “will also be paid for, indirectly, by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”

“First, the revised North American Free Trade Agreement … has yet to pass in Congress,” the Times scoffs. The article goes on to make the obvious point that the USMCA doesn’t include any specific provisions explicitly stating that Mexico will pay for the wall, explaining that “Any economic benefits from the agreement, if it passes, will most likely come in the form of lower tariffs for American companies or higher wages for American workers.”

In other words, the paper accuses the President of making a false statement simply because it disagrees with his expectations for the USMCA, then tries to diminish his argument further by rebutting a claim that he’s never even made.

In contrast, the Times determined that just one statement in the Pelosi-Schumer rebuttal merited a fact check. But instead of the adversarial approach it took toward President Trump, the article went out of its way to defend Chuck Schumer’s claim that “millions” of Americans are hurting because of the partial government shutdown that affects only 800,000 federal workers.

CNN’s fact check of President Trump’s speech was equally spurious.

When the President mentioned that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past,” CNN felt the need to add “context” to the otherwise “correct” statement.

“This is correct but context is key,” CNN writes. “Schumer previously supported legislation to build physical barriers on the US-Mexico border. Most notably, Schumer and other Democrats supported the 2006 Secure Fence Act that authorized the construction of several hundred miles of fencing along the border, but not a wall.”

The President’s address did not claim that Schumer and the Democrats supported a wall on the border. Instead, Present Trump clearly stated that they voted for a “physical barrier,” a factual statement that describes the Democrat voting record perfectly. CNN’s clarification, therefore, is nothing but an attempt to justify the Democrat flip-plop on border security.

Similarly, CNN also concedes that the President’s claim that “1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico” was true, but nonetheless offers a nonsensical rebuttal that neither contradicts nor clarifies the claim.

“Indeed, the trek to the US-Mexico border has been reported to be violent,” the network observes, only to conclude that “this very violence is also why women have chosen to travel in caravans.”

Sadly, the highly opinionated “fact checks” of President Trump’s address show that the fake news media are living up to their well-earned reputation for disregarding the truth in order to advance a partisan agenda.

The mainstream media may still claim that they stand for truth and objectivity in journalism, but it’s impossible to believe them when even their “fact check” articles play fast and loose with the facts they are supposed to be checking.

 Harlan Hill is a political advisor, media commentator, and an advisory board member of the Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.