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Sunday, March 7, 2021
MRC's Favorite Right-Wing Fact-Checker Is Spinning Facts Again
Topic: Media Research Center

According to the Media Research Center, the only real fact-checkers are the ones with a right-wing bias, which is why the MRC and its "news" division love Just Facts and its leader, James Agresti. We've previously documented the bias and logical flaws in Just Facts' "facts," and they struck again in a Feb. 5 item published by the MRC. Agresti brought his nitpicky approach to  a single protester at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot:

A PolitiFact article written by Bill McCarthy declares “there’s no proof that” a left-wing anti-Trump activist named John Sullivan incited rioting at the U.S. Capitol. As a result of this claim, Facebook flagged and reduced distribution of a post which accused Sullivan of doing so.

However, video footage indisputably proves that Sullivan encouraged people to storm and vandalize the Capitol. Moreover, Sullivan was subsequently arrested and charged with “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds” and “interfering with law enforcement” during the riot. In the wake of these revelations, PolitiFact “updated” its article twice but has not changed its conclusion despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

What Agresti is doing here is an alternative verson of the ConWeb argument that Sullivan's arrest somehow disproves that the Jan. 6 riot was a right-wing-driven event -- despite the fact that hundreds of those arrested are clearly right-wingers and Sullivan is apparently the only non-right-winger to have been arrested.

Indeed, Agresti goes on to complain that PolitiFact claims that "claims there is “no credible evidence” that the crowd that stormed the Capitol was 'infiltrated or led by antifa activists in disguise.'" But Agresti identifies nobody other than Sullivan and his accomplice who has been identified among the hundreds of rioters.

Agrestic also sounded like a defense lawyer in offering a very narrow defense of Donald Trump over accusations he incited the riot:

In contrast to PolitiFact’s claim that Sullivan’s calls to “storm” and “burn” down the Capitol don’t constitute incitement, PolitiFact has not fact-checked any of the hundreds of Congressional Democrats who declare in their mpeachment resolution that President Trump incited the riot. This is in spite of the fact that Trump didn’t call for violence and emphasized in his speech on that same day that people should go “to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

Yet, the impeachment resolution alleges that Trump is guilty of “inciting violence against the Government of the United States” because he stated in his speech: “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” This quote is taken out of context, as Trump used the word “fight” 20 times in the speech, making clear that he was speaking about legal, not physical, fighting. For example, he said that Rudy Giuliani has “guts, he fights.”

Agresti also engaged in some context-ripping, as the resolution also noted that "In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials. Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump, addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There, he reiterated false claims that 'we won this election, and we won it by a landslide'" -- thus making it clear the incitement wasn't confined to what Trump said immediately before the riot.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:27 PM EST

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