Each week, AllSides delivers a brief summary of notable fact checks and adjacent coverage across the media spectrum.
Fact Check From the Right
This week’s installment of National Review’s Forgotten Fact Checks column criticized mainstream media, particularly outlets on the left, for its “buddy-buddy relationship” with the Biden White House.
National Review reacted to coverage of Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s announced impeachment inquiry by outlets such as CNN Fact Check (Lean Left bias), Associated Press (Lean Left bias), The New York Times (Lean Left bias), and Washington Post (Lean Left bias). It reported that the White House asked editors at several mainstream news outlets to “ramp up [their] scrutiny of House Republicans for opening an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” via a 14-page memo sent on September 12.
On September 13, CNN published a lengthy fact check of McCarthy’s announcement which National Review singled out in a separate article, saying the fact check “failed to find any factual fault with what the speaker said.”
National Review also took issue with The New York Times’ coverage of the story, noting that it published an end-of-summer news quiz (published in the Opinion section, written by columnist Gail Collins) for its readers which included a “totally unbiased question” as follows: “Republicans are obsessed with Hunter Biden. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy just announced an inquiry into…” The correct answer, it reports, was “Impeaching Joe Biden for… fatherhood.”
National Review highlighted that McCarthy said an impeachment inquiry would be the “logical next step” in the current ongoing investigation by the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees. It said, The Times (in a separate story) “attempted to draw attention to McCarthy’s alleged hypocrisy of having not opened the inquiry with a vote after saying earlier this month that he would do so by incorrectly suggesting that President Donald Trump’s 2019 impeachment inquiry was opened with a vote of the full House.”
But National Review pointed out that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared an impeachment inquiry over a month before she approved a vote to “establish procedures for open hearings” in 2019. It said The Times “later quietly amended” its story to reflect the distinction of how much time there was from Pelosi’s initial declaration to that of the House vote.
National Review also highlighted a fact check summarization from Fox News (Right bias) in the “Media Misses” portion of its column. It noted a recent quote from President Biden in which he said, “I taught at the University of Pennsylvania for four years. And I used to teach political theory,” but said despite once being an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Fox found there to be “little to no evidence” that Biden taught such a class at Penn, as he didn’t teach even a semester’s worth of classes at the university.
Fact Check From the Left
The chart claimed 4.9 million jobs were created in the first two and a half years of Trump’s presidency, while just 2.1 million were created in the same period under Biden. AFP says this is misleading, because as the chart itself points out, it excludes jobs that were lost, but later re-added, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. AFP says as a result, the table “misrepresents total employment under the two administrations” (although Fox’s figures don’t show the total employment numbers).
According to the Bureau’s statistics, as linked by AFP, there was a gain of 5.3 million jobs through Trump’s first 30 months as President, while it shows 13.2 million new jobs being added during Biden’s first 30 months. AFP reports overall employment declined by 2.7 million during Trump’s presidency. While it’s implied this includes jobs lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, AFP doesn’t explicitly mention this.
AFP also highlights that according to the Bureau, the Biden Administration saw an increase in 800,000 manufacturing jobs in its first 30 months, compared to the Trump administration’s 460,000. These figures also presumably include COVID job losses and re-gains.
AFP says that Trump supporters argue Biden shouldn’t be credited with jobs added back from the COVID-19 pandemic because he recovered jobs that had previously existed, but highlights opinions that believe this is unfair.
Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics, said, "Administrations will always take credit for a strong economy and rarely take the blame when things aren't going well,” but that she doesn’t think the comparisons are useful. Vanden Houten also said, “Legislation passed under Biden to support the economy during the pandemic, mainly the American Rescue Plan, likely contributed to a strong recovery in the economy but may well have contributed to high inflation."
Gary Burtless, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, noted that jobs grew faster under the Obama administration than Trump’s. He also called the Republican argument “ludicrous” that “Trump should be credited with 100 percent responsibility for all of the job gains between Jan. 2017 and Feb. 2020 but none of the responsibility for 9.129 million lost payroll jobs in his last 12 months in office.”
Fact Check From the Center
A fact check from Check Your Fact examined a widely viewed tweet that misquotes Bloomberg, saying it claimed Congress called for an investigation into Elon Musk over his decision to not engage Starlink internet services over Crimea per the requests of the Ukrainian government ahead of a planned attack on Russian naval forces.
Check Your Fact says the tweet is “misleading” because it was Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts who called for a probe into Musk, not the “entire Congress.” The article refers to the original report from Bloomberg (Lean Left bias), highlighting that it says Warren was the only one to call for an investigation into Musk, however, media coverage across the spectrum implied there were two other Democratic senators involved in the request.
Check Your Fact cadenced by saying the tweet implied “the entire Congress is calling for an investigation into Musk’s actions,” and that if this were true, “Bloomberg and other media outlets would have reported it.”
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).