Each week, AllSides delivers a brief summary of notable fact checks and adjacent coverage across the media spectrum.
Fact Check From the Right
President Trump asked Biden during the debate, "Why is it, just out of curiosity, the mayor of Moscow's wife gave your son $3.5 million?"
Biden replied, “That is not true.”
In September 2020, Senate Republicans alleged that Russian businesswoman Elena Baturina, the widow of late Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov who passed in 2019, sent $3.5 million in 2014 to a firm called Rosemont Seneca Thornton as part of a “consultancy agreement.”
Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires told CNN that Hunter Biden was not a co-founder or owner, and that he “had no interest” in Rosemont Seneca Thornton. CNN reported that Hunter Biden was a co-founder and CEO of an investment firm named Rosemont Seneca Advisors, but that it was unclear what connection there was between the two entities.
CNN concluded in its fact check, “Neither the Senate report nor Trump have provided any evidence that the payment was corrupt or that Hunter Biden committed any wrongdoing.”
Now, The Daily Caller says new context proves CNN’s conclusion “wrong.”
At the beginning of August, House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) presented the committee with bank records that tied businesses owned by members of the Biden family to more than $20 million in payments from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
The Daily Caller says the committee’s findings prove Hunter Biden did in fact have ties to Rosemont Seneca Thornton, contrary to what his attorney Mesires told CNN.
The committee found Rosemont Seneca Thornton was a shell company set up by Hunter Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer and Rosemont Seneca Partners, which Hunter Biden is the chair of. It also found Rosemont Seneca Thornton wired $2.7 million of Baturina’s payment to Rosemont Seneca Bohai, a holding company created by Archer and Hunter Biden one day before the payment was sent.
Archer confirmed the full $3.5 million payment and arrangement with Rosemont Seneca Thornton to the House Committee in July.
The Daily Caller points out that Archer, in his testimony also recalled a spring 2014 dinner in Washington D.C. where he was joined by President Biden, Hunter Biden, Baturina, Kazakh oligarch Kenes Rakishev, and former Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov, who just this April was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The Daily Caller said neither CNN nor Mesires replied to its immediate request for comment.
Fact Check From the Center
During last week’s GOP debate, hosted by Fox News (Right bias), Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took aim at Donald Trump, who did not participate in the debate, but gave an interview with Tucker Carlson instead.
Christie, who has a notoriously rocky relationship with the former president, stated, “Donald Trump said it is okay to suspend the Constitution. The vote you take is to preserve, protect and defend, not suspend. I will always stand up for our Constitution regardless of the political pressure.”
Newsweek rooted out the original remarks made by Trump, to compare them with Christie’s claim.
On December 3, 2022, Trump wrote on Truth Social, “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great 'Founder' did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
After receiving backlash, Trump walked back his statement, writing, "The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to 'terminate' the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES. What I said was that when there is 'MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,’ as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG.”
Newsweek rated Christie’s claim as “True,” however it said he did not adequately contextualize Trump’s claim, and did in fact paraphrase to use the term “suspend.”
Nonetheless, Newsweek concludes Christie’s paraphrasing “roughly fits what the former president said.”
Fact Check From the Left
Fact checking website Snopes analyzed a November 2021 headline from National Review (Right bias) that went viral on Twitter earlier this month. The headline claimed in Germany, in order to receive assisted suicide, one must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Snopes said November 2021 coverage from “predominantly right-wing publications” pointed to the headline, arguing Covid regulations went too far. Snopes said that the headline was never accurate because it implied Germany as a country required vaccination for assisted suicide and that the headline claim was missing important pieces of context. It noted the organization National Review’s writer was pointing to, Verein Sterbehilfe, is not a German governmental agency.
Snopes also said the headline implied that the vaccination of an individual seeking their own death would be for their own protection, but that Verein Sterbehilfe clarified it was for the protection of its staff members who would come into close contact with patrons.
Snopes called National Review’s headline factually deficient and labeled the claim 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, or as part of an existing outlet, like National Review.
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.