Their desperation to appease the administration leads Politifact to massage facts to score a hit.
It is no longer even a debatable point. The media complex in this country having a particular political bent has been apparent for some time now, but even by the low standards set by the news industry, they are delving even deeper into the bias swamp. The latest example has hit close to home base here, as the reporters of rectitude at Politifact decided to target our partner site Townhall.com with their brand of redress, and the pathetic display speaks to so many of the problems in the press.
It was some grand amusement when this past Sunday the Washington Post's Dana Milbank came out with a fact-defying column that claimed the press has been acting tougher towards Joe Biden than they had treated Donald Trump. That anyone even dared take this seriously was astounding, but his laugher of a column was mocked instantly and lasted all of 24 hours.
This was because, on Monday, a report came out that the White House was gathering important newsmakers together to formulate a better way of reporting on Joe Biden's economy. That those in the press participating had no questions about this action, nor shame in willful PR efforts speaks volumes. Behold, as CNN's Oliver Darcy does not even think to question this move and instead speaks glowingly about how well the conference went.
Some news in @ReliableSources: Senior White House and admin officials have been holding briefings with major newsrooms over past week as they try to reshape economic coverage. https://t.co/s3tNP28Lae pic.twitter.com/REvVzLKlXv
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 7, 2021
It is in this exact fashion that the allegedly neutral/unbiased/objective truth-savants at Politifact leaped into action on Joe Biden's defense in reference to our partner site Townhall.com. What got them hot and lathered was a clip of Joe Biden speaking. That is it. On the TH Twitter feed, they displayed a video of a Joe Biden speech when he made an appearance in Missouri.
BIDEN: "We're making progress. We're going to keep at it to ensure the American people are paying their fair share for gas." pic.twitter.com/f41bFtbeEP
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) December 8, 2021
Note at first, there is no commentary nor interpretation offered. Joe is simply directly quoted, and the video is displayed of his speaking those very words. This however sparked a reaction from the White House PR division. Mike Gwin is the White House Rapid Response Director, and he carped about the tweet sent by Townhall. Gwin suggested that deception was in play, due to five words not being included in the video provided.
Lazy, deceptive, editing by @townhallcom to omit that the President was noting falling gas prices, and actually said:
"We're making progress, we're going to keep at it to ensure American people are paying their fair share for gas **not being gouged for gas**” https://t.co/MEHxU2ecmW pic.twitter.com/pYQYX9vj1v
— Mike Gwin (@MGwin46) December 8, 2021
Then, right on cue, Politifact suddenly took on the cause, on behalf of the administration. The fact-checking site contacted Townhall.com regarding the tweet and demanded a comment. As Spencer Brown wrote of this exchange, Politifact acknowledged that the source of their inquiry was the White House. Cute. What follows is either a comedy of pathetic reporting or a disturbing example of the media simping for the administration.
It is likely both; call it a laughably sad display.
In its ensuing report on the matter, Politifact has to resort to a number of now-familiar ploys for fact-checkers to use to arrive at a conclusion that alters the perception of the facts. One of these is the application of supposed ‘context', something they pathetically use immediately, as that appears right there in the headline. Already you sense the rabbit hole of interpretation into which we are about to descend. Their deception begins with this fractured sentence, from paragraph number two.
The shortened clip they're circulating make [sic] it seem as though Biden said the high prices at the gas pump in recent months are what Americans should be paying, or that they should pay more.
For Politifact writer and White House minion Bill McCarthy to “correct” Townhall, he has to first import suggestions that were never made, in practiced strawman fashion. Again, look at the original Townhall tweet. There is nothing but Joe Biden's direct words. McCarthy is the one doing the interpreting, with “make it seem” used for him to take corrective action.
Next, McCarthy directly echoes the effort of Mike Gwin, saying that the phrase, “not being gouged for gas” needs to be added to properly alter the message.
The full video of Biden's speech shows him saying something different — that he wants to make sure that Americans are “not being gouged for gas.”
How exactly does this show him saying anything different? Later Politifact claims that this omission left a misleading impression of Biden suggesting people need to absorb this price. Let me walk you through this, Bill. Joe Biden was the person who used the words “paying their fair share”, the very phrase that his party has used for generations in regards to taxes and other confiscatory payouts by the citizens to his party. If you have an issue with that being misinterpreted then take it up with President Malaprop and his PR wizard Mike Gwin.
Here is what is so revealing about this Politifact sycophantic report; McCarthy's piece rambles further on about the video clip, but never are actual facts addressed in this fact-check. This entire entry is McCarthy harping on the alleged syntax error changing meaning. What about those actual gas prices, Bill? You want Biden to get proper praise for the price dropping about $0.07 when he gave this speech, but there is no mention that the per-gallon price is still parked at levels not seen since Joe was Vice President — well over a dollar higher than one year ago. Maybe that is a more important context to provide to readers, maybe?
But then let's peer over that five-word phrase that is supposedly so important. If price gouging at the pumps is taking place, what is being done and who is behind it? These seem like details that could stand to be checked, you know, with facts. Gouging is something that takes place in crisis situations. It is an illegal economic practice, and the offenders should be identified and punished. Except this is not an isolated occurrence.
We are not seeing targeted spikes by select companies or limited to specific regions, say in response to a natural disaster. This is an industry-wide and cross-country increase due to market forces, and it reflects the sharp rise in prices seen in all industries. Inflation is at a level not seen in 40 years; the Consumer Price Index has not jumped like this since 1982. Pretending the gas price increase is taking place in an economic vacuum and is the result of some bad actors in the oil industry is a complete delusion on the part of Joe Biden and his administration lackeys.
It is also something that is easily addressed with the application of data. But look at how supremely disinterested Politifact is in fact-checking Joe Biden and his comments. Instead, we are supposed to heap praise for his pennies-on-the-dollars dip in prices, and we are to shake a fist at the nefarious oil barons who make Joe look bad by ramping up the cost of gasoline at the pump.
Good job, Bill McCarthy and Politifact – I'm sure Mike Gwin will see fit your outfit is included on the White House Christmas Cards List. All the compliant media outlets should be included in the Yuletide gratitude this year.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci