Column: Come On, Fact Checkers, Republicans Did Not Defund the Police


Here’s an easy test to see whether fact-checking websites can make any claim to be “independent” and nonpartisan in tone. Biden staffers claimed Republicans “defunded the police.” That’s a bald-faced lie.

On the June 27 Fox News Sunday, White House aide Cedric Richmond claimed that because Republicans uniformly voted against Biden’s massive “American Rescue Plan” for coronavirus relief, they somehow defunded the police. “Republicans are very good at staying on talking points of who says defund the police. But the truth is, they defunded the police. We funded crime intervention and a whole bunch of other things.”

CBS and CNN also interviewed Richmond on their Sunday morning shows on June 27, but he didn’t repeat the lie about police defunding, and they ran clips of their own interviews instead.

Four days earlier, Biden press secretary Jen Psaki cracked: “That was voted into law by Democrats just a couple of months ago. Some might say that the other party was for defunding the police; I’ll let others say that, but that’s a piece.”

The only media pushback came from Fox White House reporter Peter Doocy, who pushed Psaki about Richmond’s remarks the day after the Fox News Sunday interview. He tried again on June 30.  

Fact-checking sites that are still dogged Trump critics somehow skipped over this one. AP Fact Check was AWOL. CNN’s Daniel Dale and his team couldn’t locate this one. Snopes.com spent time on scintillating articles like “Is This a Reindeer with Glow-in-the-Dark Antlers?” and “Is This 3D Cat Really Just a Flat Billboard?”

PolitiFact has given a free pass to Jen Psaki. She doesn’t even have a page on PolitiFact. There are no fact checks, almost six months into Biden’s term. There’s also no page for Cedric Richmond, who served ten years in the House before advising Biden.

However, try the search term “defund police” in the PolitiFact search engine, you get a pile of articles rushing to the defense of various Democrats. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris didn’t favor defunding the police. The same goes for Mark Kelly and Mark Warner. You can easily sense how selective and defensive PolitiFact looks overall.

PolitiFact also posted an article explaining “While some protesters want to eliminate police departments entirely, others want to revisit the functions of police departments and reroute some of their funding toward other services.” Now imagine Republicans “rerouting” some funding away from public broadcasting or food stamps and guess how liberal reporters would characterize that. The word “defunding” is likely.

Two fact checkers eventually tagged Team Biden on this lie. D’Angelo Gore at FactCheck.org was the first to flag it on July 6. “Richmond’s claim suggested that Republicans voted to cut or reduce existing federal funding to police departments — which is what some who truly want to ‘defund the police’ advocate. That’s not what happened.”

Salvador Rizzo at The Washington Post “Fact Checker” unit followed on July 7. Rizzo made a big deal about how Biden is in no way in favor of defunding the police. But he assigned “Three Pinocchios” to Richmond and Psaki: “We often fact-check claims in which huge spending bills are reduced to one cherry-picked expense out of thousands. In this case, there’s not even a line item to attach to the White House’s claim that Republicans are trying to defund the police.”

Even after the Pinocchio-throwing, NBC News shamelessly ran a Biden-boosting article on July 8 from Sahil Kapur and Shannon Pettypiece titled “White House: Actually, it’s Republicans who are trying to defund the police.”

Some reporters are Biden stenographers, and some “fact checkers” are a Democrat protection racket.



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