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Friday, November 12, 2021
Tim Graham Fact-Check Fail, Biden Booster Shot Edition
Topic: Media Research Center

Media Research Center executive Tim Graham is so desperate to attack fact-checkers for calling out right-wing lies -- and so unconcerned about how dumb he looks in the process -- that he simply lashes out without thinking. He spent an entire Oct. 8 column whining in a picayune argument that fact-checkers busted right-wingers for asserting that President Biden got his COVID booster shot on a "fake White House" set:

When is a fake setting not a fake setting? When Joe Biden sits in front of it.

The “independent fact checkers” – a phrase that in itself strains credulity – leaped to defend President Biden after he received a COVID booster shot in the Old Executive Office Building on September 27. For political rookies, the “OEOB” is not the White House, but sits next to the White House.

Jokers on Facebook showed a photograph of Biden getting his booster vaccination in the South Court Auditorium in front of a set that resembled the Oval Office. One said "Joe Biden using a fake White House backdrop is so on brand for him." Another Facebook post said "They created a fake set for Biden to get his booster shot. The entire Biden presidency is one giant charade."

PolitiFact characterized the second post as “False” and announced these posts “were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.” This led Facebook to suppress the Biden mockery. The Facebook post at the page “Real Cloyd Rivers” quoted here as “False” was simply taken down. It can no longer be found.

What was “misinformation”? PolitiFact’s Louis Jacobson set the Biden scene: “Behind him was a backdrop featuring white walls and columns, along with ‘windows’ seemingly looking out toward the White House itself.”

Dear Louis: If you’re putting the word “windows” in quote marks, it can be mocked as a fake set.

Jacobson also tried these lame arguments: “There’s no indication that anyone in the Biden administration tried to pass this off event as being held inside the White House itself.” Claiming great intentions isn’t “fact checking.” It appeared to be like the Oval Office, and it wasn’t.

And: “The backdrop behind Biden as he was getting his booster shot wasn’t ‘created’ for that event —  it had been used five days earlier for a global coronavirus summit.” So if the fake setting is not new, it’s not fake?

What Graham doesn't do, however, is offer any evidence that anyone in the Biden White House ever falsely portrayed the event as taking place inside the White House, as PolitiFact pointed out. Indeed, the White House transcript of the event specifically states that it took place at the "South Court Auditorium, Eisenhower Executive Office Building" (the official name for the Old Executive Office Building). It was a set; everyone in attendance knew it was a set. The only people trying to deceive were the right-wing Biden-haters, who Graham wants you to think are merely "jokers on Facebook" though he offered no evidence the claim was being made as a "joke."

Further, Graham's complaining about the stage being a "fake set" are nonsensical. It's a stage set, which by definition is fake. But nobody ever claimed it wasn't a set, which Graham doesn't seem to understand.

Graham went on to whine: "PolitiFact wasn’t alone. The website Lead Stories – heavily used to suppress Facebook content – ran an article, too. It warned of the claim 'Joe Biden Took His Booster Shot On A ‘Set’ Of A Fake ‘White House’.' But it was a set, and the set was technically not in the White House." Again, nobody was claiming it was in the White House or that it wasn't a set.

Unable to stop digging -- and still insisting without evidence that the right-wingers crying "fake!" were merely making fun of Biden -- Graham tried to invent a conspiracy theory:

The obvious question one might ask: Why not get the booster shot inside the actual Oval Office? Why create a set for “The President Biden Show”? On Fox News, Ari Fleischer suggested they wanted to give Biden a teleprompter inside the camera lens he's looking into, so he doesn't go off script.

If Donald Trump had created a set, there’s no way “fact checkers” would check anyone making fun of him on Facebook. Anti-Trump mockery was the most accurate mockery, no matter how inaccurate it might be.

Perhaps Biden didn't do it inside the Oval Office because the White House wanted a sizable audience for this, and you can only fit so many people inside the Oval Office.

Chalk this up as another fact-check fail for Graham.

P.S.: Graham somehow managed to avoid any mention of the wacky claim from the MRC's favorite (misinforming) podcaster, Joe Rogan, asserting that the booster shot itself was a fake. That's the protection one gets in exchange for being an MRC fave.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:51 PM EST

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