Each week, AllSides delivers a brief summary of notable fact checks and adjacent coverage across the media spectrum.
Fact Check From the Left
A recent analysis from The Washington Post rounded up previous fact checks the newspaper published online that peered into anecdotes told by President Biden, alleging the president has a long track record of embellishing stories and making up details.
The Post looked at five different stories it previously debunked on some level.
One of the most notable was what the Post labeled “The tale of the gay men in suits kissing,” which Biden reportedly told three times this year, and at least seven times since 2014. According to Biden, when he was a child in Wilmington, Delaware in the early 1960s, he saw two well-dressed men kissing in downtown. He said his father explained their actions to him as follows: “Joey, it’s simple. They love each other.”
The Washington Post said the President often tells the story when speaking about gay issues, but reports its own reasons for skepticism. First, the Post said the publicly perceived deviance of such actions in 1961 (the year Biden usually describes the story as having happened) would have made it unlikely he saw this, especially in Wilmington’s business district. But it also claimed Biden’s story has changed over time, to the point where sometimes he is the father in the story, speaking to one of his own sons.
Since taking office, Biden has also told the story of one of his civil rights arrests. As recently as January 2022, Biden said he was arrested while standing on a black couple’s front porch as they were being protested against. In a 2017 version of the story, he said his mother warned him not to go to the protests because of his previous arrest. However, the Post noted Biden has twice said the police only brought him home from the protests after he stood on the porch, as opposed to arresting him.
The Washington Post’s own investigation found Biden’s story “didn’t add up,” as Biden appeared to mix up the protest of a black couple who moved into a neighborhood with the protest of the real estate agent who was involved in the sale of their home.
The Post also reported that during his 2020 campaign, Biden three times claimed he was arrested in South Africa for trying to see former South African President Nelson Mandela in prison. It adds that after its own fact checking work, Biden changed his story to say he was only “stopped” at the airport while traveling with a congressional delegation, but the Post said others on the delegation have reported the President’s claim he was stopped as false.
More recently, Biden spoke at a DNC event in September 2022, saying he never got arrested in South Africa, as he presumed South African authorities “didn’t think (he) was worth it.”
Fact Check From the Right
In response to The Washington Post’s article, Fox News published an analysis commenting on it, as well as including other conservative perspectives about the state of fact check media at large.
Fox argued the author of the Post article, Glenn Kessler, did not go far enough in its criticisms of Biden, and also recalled a similar article from The New York Times (Lean Left bias), published in October 2022. The Fox analysis said the Post and Times debunk false stories told by President Biden, but avoid calling them outright “lies” in headlines, and that their coverage of false information spread by former President Donald Trump is much harsher.
Fox pointed out a statement from the Times’ now-retired executive editor Dean Baquet in which he said the word “lie” should be used “judiciously” because of its “very powerful” meaning. Baquet said using the word “lie” too often "could feed the mistaken notion that (the Times is) taking political sides.”
Fox also said Kessler, of the Post, previously monitored all of Trump’s false or misleading claims made as president, but hasn’t done the same for Biden.
Fox also included a perspective from one of its contributors, Joe Concha, who said the media often relies on Biden’s age as an excuse for his non-credible stories. Concha, who has previously criticized fact checkers like PolitiFact (Lean Left bias), Snopes (Lean Left bias) and CNN (Left bias), told a Fox Business (Lean Right bias) television broadcast last week that The Washington Post should also fact check claims Biden makes on matters such as the border crisis, COVID-19 vaccines, and inflation.
Fox said it reached out to both the Post and Times for comment. It said the Post replied by pointing to a 2018 fact check Kessler authored explaining how the Post determines when to call something a “lie.” In it, Kessler frames a “lie” as when “the president knows he is not telling the truth,” or when he is “deliberately dishonest.” The article the Post offered, Fox says, “thoroughly debunked Trump's past claims that he had no knowledge of the 2016 hush money payment that was made to Stormy Daniels, the porn star who alleged she had an affair with him, a claim he denied.”
Fox said Kessler concluded that Trump “lied,” but that “it is unclear based on that report whether the Post has a specific standard to determine what false claims from a president amounts to a ‘lie.’”
Fox said The New York Times did not reply to their request for comment.
Fact Check From the Center
In a recent fact check, Reuters debunked a viral piece of misinformation that claimed World Economic Forum Founder Klaus Schwab was related to the European banking dynasty Rothschild & Co.
Rothschild & Co. has its roots in the Rothschild family dynasty, which was founded over 200 years ago by Mayer Amschel Rothschild.
Reuters pointed to a now-removed Instagram post and Facebook post that claimed Klaus Schwab is part of the Rothschild family based on a photoshopped family tree that surfaced on Reddit in r/conspiracy in 2021.
Reuters says the photo shows individuals from three different families.
The fake family tree claims Klaus Schwab is the son of Marianne Schwab, who was born as Marianne Rothschild in Frankfurt in 1919. Reuters says Marianne never had a son named Klaus, and while her father managed a banking business, it was not related to the Rothschild banking dynasty, according to a 2003 interview by the Zekelman Holocaust Center.
The family tree also shows Marianna’s father, Louis Rothschild. Reuters says this is not to be confused with Louis Nathaniel von Rothschild from the banking dynasty Rothschilds, who was born in 1882 and died in 1955. Reuters highlights a biography on The Rothschild Archive, a website by the dynasty family about their history, which says Louis Nathaniel von Rothschild married Countess Hildegard Johanna Caroline Marie Auersperg, and never had children.
Reuters rated the original claim of Klaus Schwab being related to the Rothschild dynasty as false.
Why We’re Watching the Fact Checkers
Whether the product of a carefully coordinated propaganda campaign or an innocent mistake by a journalist or social media user, misinformation is inevitable. Because of this, many fact checkers have popped up as their own entities, like Snopes (Lean Left bias), or as part of an existing outlet, like National Review (Right bias).
Fact checkers aim to get to the bottom of claims that may or may not be true. But sometimes, they themselves become part of the problem, such as by only fact checking one side, drawing subjective conclusions about what the facts mean, or showing bias by downplaying or playing up certain facts.
At AllSides, we’ve highlighted the types of bias fact checkers are most prone to, and developed the AllSides Fact Check Bias Chart™ so readers can easily identify bias and similarities in fact checking coverage.
Andy Gorel is a News Curator at AllSides. He has a bias of Center.
This piece was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Editor (Lean Left bias) and Johnathon Held, Bias Analyst (Lean Right bias).