Welcome back to “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a weekly column produced by National Review’s News Desk. This week we have President Biden’s mistruths during his first address to a joint session of Congress, Democrats’ racist attacks on Senator Tim Scott, and USA Today’s stealth edits on Stacey Abrams’s behalf.
As we noted in our first edition, the Washington Post and other outlets incessantly fact-checked Donald Trump’s presidency. Now, the Post says it will give up on cataloguing Biden’s lies after his first 100 days in office.
Here's the Biden database — which we do not plan to extend beyond 100 days. I have learned my lesson. https://t.co/qK42PRlnrS
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) April 27, 2021
As NR’s staff pointed out, Biden’s first congressional speech on Wednesday — which received the lowest TV viewership in 28 years — included more than a few falsehoods.
The president called out Senate Republicans for stalling progress on gun control, saying lax gun laws have led to “daily bloodshed.” He argued that the expiration of the assault-weapons bans “in the early 2000s” caused an increase in violence. However, gun violence continued to decline even after the ban expired in 2004. Even while the ban was in effect, the country was not free of shootings, as NR’s Jim Geraghty noted, the Columbine High School massacre, the Long Island Rail Road shooting, and the Atlanta day-trading shooting all occurred while the ban was in effect.
In his speech, the president also touted his infrastructure and families plans, which he said he plans to fund by taxing corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent. He claimed that he “will not impose any tax increase on anyone making less than $400k.” But, as it turns out, “anyone” is a deceptive claim — as White House press secretary Jen Psaki has explained, the $400,000 threshold refers to households, not individuals.
Biden also claimed that Medicare could save “hundreds of billions of dollars” by negotiating drug prices, though the Congressional Budget Office has said that “providing broad negotiating authority by itself would likely have a negligible effect on federal spending.”
Biden just claimed that Medicare could save “hundreds of billions of dollars” by negotiating drug prices. CBO has concluded “providing broad negotiating authority by itself would likely have a negligible effect on federal spending.” https://t.co/4SBSAIMhAS
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) April 29, 2021
The president said, “We kept our commitment — Democrats and Republicans — of sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85 percent of American households.” However, the American Rescue Plan, which delivered the checks, was hardly a bipartisan effort, with Democrats using budget reconciliation to pass the measure without any Republican support.
Biden also made some dubious claims about the economy, saying he had inherited the “worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” and created “more jobs in the first 100 days than any president on record.”
Philip Klein noted that last spring the unemployment rate reached an abysmal 13.3 percent when the pandemic first hit, but by the time Biden took office in January 2021 it had been cut to 6.3 percent, a lower figure than was seen during the first five years of the Obama-Biden administration. The real GDP had also already been on the rise after a severe decrease in last year’s second quarter.
On the second point, the Associated Press notes that hiring has accelerated “as vaccinations have picked up, states and cities ease business restrictions, and Americans have started to venture out more.” While the $1.9 trillion COVID response package approved in March certainly helped, the economy would be on the rise in any case given the low benchmark set by last year’s severe COVID contraction.
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After Biden finished delivering his at-times misleading address, Senator Tim Scott (R., S.C.) gave the GOP rebuttal. Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said in his speech that “America is not a racist country,” causing progressives to lose their minds. (Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler continues to defend his much-maligned dive into Scott’s family history, based on a recent NPR appearance).
On Saturday, MSNBC’s Tiffany Cross accused Scott of being “thirsty for white approval” and said that the senator is one of few black Americans who could be characterized as “sleepy, slow-witted sufferers of Stockholm Syndrome.”
She said he sounded like a “stone fool” in saying the country is not racist and said if he had ever been a slave, he would have been among those who “Harriet Tubman left behind.”
Meanwhile, a Democratic official in Texas is facing calls to resign after calling Scott an “oreo,” a slur that refers to a black person who is seen as “having adopted the attitudes, values and behavior thought to be characteristic of middle-class white society, often at the expense of his or her own heritage,” according to Dictionary.com.
— The Cross Connection with Tiffany Cross (@CrossConnection) May 1, 2021
Yet the Democratic double standard was on full display Thursday when Vice President Kamala Harris suffered virtually no blowback for agreeing with Scott that America is not a “racist country.”
“Well, first of all, no, I don’t think America is a racist country, but we also do have to speak the truth about the history of racism in our country and its existence today,” said Harris, the United States’ first black and first Indian American vice president.
The Headline Fail of the Week
NBC News is back: “In bitterly divided election in Southlake, Texas, opponents of anti-racism education win big.”
Ah, yes, the “bitterly divided election” which saw one side win “every race by about 70 percent to 30 percent.”
USA Today is under fire for allowing Democrat Stacey Abrams to substantially edit a voting-rights op-ed after its publication in order to downplay her support for boycotts.
On April 6, she removed a line from the op-ed, which was originally published on March 31, saying “she can’t argue” with those who would boycott Georgia businesses, and instead wrote: “Rather than accept responsibility for their craven actions, Republican leaders blame me and others who have championed voting rights (and actually read the bill).”
In the updated version, Abrams writes that “boycotts invariably cost jobs,” and that “instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states.”
An editor’s note alerting readers to the changes wasn’t added for over two weeks, on April 22, reports NR’s Ryan Mills.