In every election cycle, there are political pundits who use their position on media outlets as a bully pulpit to share their opinions. One of them is Claire McCaskill, a “political analyst” for MSNBC.
Prior to joining MSNBC, McCaskill was a career politician and United States Senator from Missouri who lost her reelection bid in 2018. After accepting her new role at MSNBC, McCaskill said she would “not hold back.”
She could have also said but chose not to say – In my new role, I will not forget losing my senate race to a candidate endorsed by Donald Trump.
That was confirmed by her comments last week in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. During her appearance, McCaskill had an epic on-air meltdown over a fact-checking article on Joe Biden in The New York Times.
The article’s headline was “Fact-Checking Biden’s Recent Economic Talking Points.” In the article, The Time’s reporters concluded some of Biden’s statements were either lacking context, misleading, or outright false.
In reacting to the story, McCaskill said “Can I make a suggestion? I move that every newspaper in America quits doing any fact-checks on Joe Biden until they fact-check Donald Trump every morning on the front page. It is ridiculous that The New York Times fact-checked Joe Biden on something. I mean, he vomits lies, Trump vomits lies. Every day, over and over and over again.” She went on to say, “And it’s just ridiculous that the New York Times is doing a fact-check on Biden, while they let Trump, like they’re numb to the torrent of lies coming out of Trump’s mouth.”
In her rant, McCaskill never refuted the conclusions in the Times article.
Regarding fact-checking fairness, McCaskill needs to recognize three facts that she is either unaware of or unwilling to acknowledge.
Fact #1 – Her claim that Donald Trump has not been routinely subjected to rigorous fact-checking is simply not true.
PolitiFact, a nonpartisan fact-checking website launched by the Tampa Bay Times, and now owned by The Poynter Institute (a nonprofit learning center for journalists), has regularly tracked Trump campaigns and White House years.
Their website notes that Trump has been fact-checked thousands of times by different news organizations since he entered politics.
After Trump, the three most-fact-checked politicians were former President Obama with 603 fact-checks, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with 301 fact-checks, and President Biden with 286 fact checks.
Progressive national media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post are not cheerleaders or apologists for Trump.
Fact #2 — On their website PolitiFact reports “The Washington Post’s Fact-checker column sought to collect every statement by Trump during his one term as president. They ended up with 30,753 items.
Fact #3 — New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger responded to McCaskill’s attack by acknowledging the White House has been “extremely upset” over its coverage of Biden. He then said, “We are just stating the truth fully and plainly, but we are also doing that in a way that is unemotional. We are not anyone’s opposition and we’re not anyone’s lap dog.”
In her tirade, Clair McCaskill asked, “May I make a motion?” Without waiting for an answer, she plowed ahead with her suggestion that “every newspaper in America quit doing any fact-checks on Joe Biden until they fact-check Donald Trump every morning on the front page.”
I have a motion too. I suggest every America ignore self-absorbed talking head pundits who are often wrong but never in doubt. This is especially the case with former elected and appointed politicians desperately trying to be important and relevant without interest in or capability of vetting their opinions.
Voters are best served with knowledgeable researchers’ fact-checking every candidate, elected official, and high-level appointed official without regard to their party affiliation or issue positions. Voters are also best served with knowledgeable journalists choosing the best media outlets to share the fact-checking results.
That is what the voting public needs and deserves.
David Reel is a public affairs and public relations consultant who lives in Easton.