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Monday, July 4, 2016
MRC Goes To War Against Fact-Checkers To Protect Trump
Topic: Media Research Center

We could see it coming.

First, the Media Research Center tries to spin Donald Trump's lies and bashes anyone who points out that they are, in fact, lies. The the MRC's "news" division uncritically quotes a Trump campaign flack declaring that "We’re not going to base national security off PolitiFact" after fact-checkers pointed out that Trump got caught telling yet another lie.

Now, the MRC's war on fact-checkers has escalated with Tim Graham and Brent Bozell's June 29 column whining that fact-checkers continue ot call out Trump, attacking in particular "the liberal-media project calling itself PolitiFact."

Graham and Bozell bring up no less than three times what they call "Hillary Clinton's obscene lie about landing in sniper fire in Bosnia," complaining that it "is a distant memory." That's because it is -- she said it in 2008, and it was judged as false back then. By contrast, their preferred presidential candidate, Trump, lies on a daily basis and is surely lying about something right now. But pointing out the fact that Trump is an inveterate liar is apparently part of that the anti-conservative media conspiracy they've been warning us about. 

But let's read how Graham and Bozell rant about this:

Let us briefly review the ratings this "fact-checking" project gave the candidates that week.

Nine of Trump's statements were rated. There was one "Mostly False," four "False," three "Pants on Fire" and one "True" — restating that Hillary-Bosnia thing. Only four of Clinton's statements were rated: two "Mostly True," one "Half True" and one "True."

A Clinton critic can easily shred these results. They found it "True" in a Clinton speech to Planned Parenthood that maternal mortality has plummeted since Roe v. Wade — as if that's some kind of scientific principle connecting the two instead of a general advance in health care since 1973. That was a "Mostly False."

What about Clinton's claim that Trump "actually said, 'women should be punished for having abortions'?" Fact is, under heavy pressure from MSNBC's Chris Matthews Trump gave the thoughtless answer — "there has to be some form of punishment." But fact also is that he then almost immediately backed away, withdrawing that answer. "Half True" is being generous.

Declaring that Trump "almost immediately backed away" from a "thoughtless answer" on abortion -- actually, several hours passed before for he did so, and only after anti-abortion groups pointed out that this he was not following the political stance of the movement -- means that Graham and Bozell are making an excuse to save their preferred candidate, and it doesn't erase the fact that he did indeed say it in the first place.

And Graham and Bozell mislead about the statement it highlights about Clinton. In fact, PolitiFact rated Clinton's statement that maternal mortality has plummeted since Roe v. Wade as "Mostly True" -- not "True," as they claim -- and it also pointed out that the mortality rate was on the decline in the years before Roe v. Wade, which Graham and Bozell falsely suggest it did not do.

Since Graham and Bozell aren't ones to let the facts get in the way of an attack on fact-checkers, please continue:

PolitiFact avoided rating another Clinton statement altogether. In the same speech she said, "Thank you for being there for Natarsha McQueen, who told me how Planned Parenthood caught her breast cancer when she was just 33 years old, and saved her life." Wrong. One of the most persistent lies is that Planned Parenthood does mammograms and "catches" breast cancer. Planned Parenthood doctors only refer women to other people who do mammograms. Clinton tells that lie incessantly. "Pants on Fire Lie" puts it mildly.

Actually, the story is mostly true. NBC reports:

Natarsha McQueen, 40, of Brooklyn, NY, joined in and defended Planned Parenthood. McQueen was diagnosed with breast cancer after a breast exam revealed a lump and a subsequent referral from Planned Parenthood let to further diagnosis and treatment.

"Thanks to an early cancer screening I'm a breast cancer survivor," McQueen told a room of about 45 people on Capitol Hill.

"I had breast cancer. I was in complete shock. I was very young and there was no history of breast cancer in my family. I continue to go to Planned Parenthood for gynecological exams and breast exams as well," McQueen added.

While Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms in its clinics, it does provide referrals to places that do, and that's what appears happened with McQueen. Will Graham and Bozell walk up to McQueen and tell her to her face that she's a liar? Not likely -- it's much easier and safer to beat up on Hillary.

Graham and Bozell then set a false comparison between Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren:

Cruz and Warren were both elected to the Senate in 2012. Cruz has been assessed for truth on 114 occasions by PolitiFact, but Warren has only been assessed on four? And for the record, there's no rating for Warren claiming to be part Cherokee Indian.

Graham and Bozell don't mention that Cruz spent much of the past year running for president, while Warren did not. Oh, and there's no evidence Warren deliberately lied about having a Native American heritage or that she used it to advance in her career; she has said she relied on family stories for her claim.

Let's be clear about Graham and Bozell -- and the MRC -- are doing. The only way they can deal with Trump's constant lies is to declare the act of fact-checking to be a partisan exercise, as Graham and Bozell's whine that PolitiFact has "rated Trump 'False'/'Mostly False'/'Pants on Fire' 77 percent of the time. But they've rated Clinton 'False' and 'Mostly False' only 26 percent of the time."

The MRC have invested years -- nay, decades -- in portraying the Clintons as liars, but when someone who lies as much as Trump comes along and is a Republican, facts suddenly no longer matter.

Or, as Graham and Bozell conclude, fact-checking is now "a liberal, out-of-touch, elitist media thing." 

Posted by Terry K. at 10:42 PM EDT

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