It's no secret that the mainstream media largely dislikes Donald Trump. Dubbed the "opposition party" by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, outlets from CNN to MSNBC to the Washington Post and beyond have made minimal efforts to hide their bias against the President.
With the Mueller investigation looking more and more like the "hoax" Trump claims it is, the MSM passed through the Overton window of credibility long ago - as scores of "anonymously sourced" bombshells have failed to find their target. The result? They're simply turning Trump into a billionaire martyr.
And now - as columnist David Harsanyi notes in the New York Post - the MSM has resorted to pedantic fact checks of Trump's State of the Union address that make them look as desperate as they are biased to in their efforts to bring Trump down.
If media wants to challenge the context and politics of Republican arguments, that’s their prerogative. There are plenty of legitimately misleading statements worthy of fact-checkers’ attention. Yet, with a veneer of impartiality, fact-checkers often engage in a uniquely dishonest style of partisanship. And State of Union coverage gave us an abundance of examples of how they do it: -New York Post
Politico - for example, insinuated that President Trump was lying about the sexual assault of "one in three women" who make the long journey north to cross into the United States illegally. Not so fast - Drumpf, said Politico, which deemed Trump's statement only "partly true." It's actually 31 percent of women, who are sexually abused based on a 2017 Doctors Without Borders report.
Whether Doctors Without Borders’ scary statistic is accurate or not, is one thing. Trump, however, was being called out for asserting that “one in every three” illegal immigrants has been abused attempting to cross the border rather than “33.333 percent of women” — probably a rounding error in the poll. It is almost surely the case that every past president and every politician has used “one-third” or “one-half” rather than a specific fraction, and walked away without being fact-checked. -New York Post
The New York Times flatly interjected their opinion into their "fact check" of Trump's SOTU address - ruling that Trump's contention that there is "an urgent national crisis" at the border is "false" because illegal border crossings have been declining for two decades, and Customs and Border Protection agents had arrested just half of the number of people per month as they had in the mid-2000s.
As Harsanyi points out - the Times can't simply define a national emergency using pretzel logic.
Even if those numbers are correct, there is no way to fact-check urgency. After all, a lessening crisis doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a pressing one. We’ve seen a steep decline in gun violence over the past 30 years. Would The New York Times ever “fact-check” a Democrat who argued that gun violence was an “urgent crisis” of public safety? Of course not. But this fluctuating standard allows journalists to “fact-check” any subjective political contention they desire.
If I claim that socialism is the greatest threat to American freedom and prosperity, I may well be right. I may have a lot of historical and economic evidence to back up my assertion. You can argue that I’m wrong. You can lay out statistics that attempt to prove me wrong. You can call me crazy. But you can’t produce an unbiased “fact-check” establishing that my opinion is conclusively false. You’re just writing an op-ed piece. -New York Post
NPR was clearly triggered when President Trump praised the number of women in Congress - tweeting: "FACT CHECK: President Trump praised the record number of women in Congress, but that’s almost entirely because of Democrats, not Trump’s party."
This isn't a "fact check." Trump said: "And exactly one century after Congress passed the Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before. That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great."
Trump didn't take credit for the number of women in Congress whatsoever, and " their nitpicking created the impression that somehow Trump had misled the public. He did not," writes Harsanyi.
Fact check: You people are morons. He praised them and their success. He didn’t pick sides. He didn’t take credit. He genuinely was happy for it and yet you still knock him.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 6, 2019
What the hell is wrong with you? https://t.co/I2R0IrPIYn
The Washington Post, meanwhile, "offered a number of egregious examples of outright misinformation."
In one of them, reporter Meg Kelly claimed that, “Abortion legislation in New York wouldn’t do what Trump said.” There are a number of words in her post intimating that Trump lied about the New York and Virginia late-term abortion bills, but none of her words debunk Trump’s core contention. Ramesh Ponnuru has a good rundown here.
Here’s what Trump said: “Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world. And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.” -New York Post
And here we get back to the pretzel logic - or a "clue" that you're about to read a deceptive fact check on the topic of abortion, according to Harsanyi. When an author prefaces their comment by writing that "only" [insert small percentage] of viable babies are aborted, it serves to downplay the "fact check" with their own justification.
“Indeed,” Kelly writes, “only 1.3 percent of abortions — or about 8,500 a year — take place at or after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute.” This number, as Ponnuru points out, is almost surely low. Whatever the case, Trump never claimed “most” abortions were post-20 weeks. Whether 8,500 or 15,000, thousands of viable babies are being aborted. No fact-checker would ever point out that only .0001 percent of legal gun owners commit crimes when talking about more firearm restrictions (and, yes, that’s an approximation).
And despite the Post's efforts to downplay Trump's abortion comments - they did not "fact check" him whatsoever. Nothing the Post wrote countered Trump's claim that abortion on demand until (and after) crowning is legal in New York.
"How often it happens is up for debate. What the bill says is inarguable," writes Harsanyi.
In summary - the mainstream media's blatantly biased "fact checks" have once again revealed their failure to remain objective, honest and factual. And while those on the left who are deeply mesmerized by partisan echo chambers may let these critiques slide - critical thinkers, particularly swing voters, will see right through the joke that has become modern journalism.