FILE – In this file photograph taken Nov. 1, 2007, the masthead of The Washington Post is displayed on the office building, in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
As I’ve said before, when it comes to the so-called “fact checkers” in the media, I find the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler hit or miss – but mostly miss.
Over the last few weeks as the Trump administration has ramped up its efforts to combat the Wuhan coronavirus, Kessler has engaged in a series of missteps (to put it charitably) when it comes to analyzing their efforts. Before we get to the most recent instance, let’s take a look at two prior examples.
Two week ago, Kessler wrote a lengthy fact-check and claimed in several tweets that Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the NIAID director and a key member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force team, was wrong when he stated in an interview that Italy had an open border, which Fauci noted allowed the virus to spread rapidly undetected. In actuality, it was Kessler who was wrong, as I documented here.
A few days later, Kessler was caught pulling an Adam Schiff by falsely attributing a quote to President Trump about how economic progress shouldn’t be impeded even if there was a “pile of bodies over in the corner”, insinuating it’s what Trump said when asked about a timeline for getting things back to normal.
The problem with Kessler’s quote, as several Twitter users pointed out, was that it wasn’t something Trump said. It was a quote from Bill Gates, who – like Kessler and other mainstream media figures – was perpetuating the false narrative that Trump wants everything back to normal tomorrow regardless of the human cost.
The latest example comes by way of a viral video of a Fox News clip that featured an interview with Dr. Rishi Desai, who was highly critical of the Trump administration’s response. Desai made a number of questionable claims in the clip, including absurdly crediting the World Health Organization for being on top of its game in terms of what he falsely claimed was their early knowledge of the virus’s existence and how it could be transmitted:
Somebody decided to invite Dr. Rishi Desai onto Fox.
I don’t think they’ll be asking him back.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) April 2, 2020
Joshua Potash has the following statement in his profile: “Trump is the biggest threat to Democracy that the U.S. has ever seen.” Instead of questioning his interpretation of the video and the claims made in the video, former journalist Ron Fournier uncritically promoted the video, which Kessler also uncritically RT’d:
WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler ended up walking this retweet back. Happened after he relied on a left-winger's interpretation of a viral Fox News video. pic.twitter.com/mv4MY96umm
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) April 3, 2020
An hour and 15 minutes after he RT’d the video, Kessler ended up walking his retweet back with the following notation:
When I retweeted this I focused on his comment on testing vis a vis South Korea. But the first part of his statement is wrong — while some doctors suspected human-to human transmission in Dec, that was covered up by China for weeks and falsely broadcast by the WHO as no problem https://t.co/QSMrYdQZIT
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) April 2, 2020
In reality, Desai’s claims about South Korea and testing were questionable, too, in addition to the ones he made about WHO and China, but let’s give Kessler a polite golf clap for at least partially acknowledging his error in passing along the video without analyzing it first.
That said, it would be nice going forward if Kessler would actually dissect claims before sharing them with his followers, which is what an actual fact-checker would do.
(Hat tip: The Blaze)