Media fact checkers have backpedaled after falsely suggesting relatives of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan were lying about a controversy involving President Joe Biden.
The collapse of trust in the media is only accelerating at the start of the Biden era.
Biden repeatedly checked his watch during Sunday’s dignified transfer of the remains of the 13 service members killed Aug. 26 in Kabul — causing several of the troops’ relatives to publicly criticize the president.
- “I couldn’t look at [Biden] anymore after that, just considering, especially, the time and why we were there,” Mark Schmitz, the father of later Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday, alluding to Biden’s oversight of the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- “I found it to be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen.”
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
At least two prominent fact checkers on Wednesday contradicted the eyewitness accounts of the Gold Star family members, saying Biden was documented checking his watch just once during the dignified transfer.
- Snopes’ Dan Evon gave the controversy a “Mixture” rating and directly disputed Schmitz’s recollection that Biden checked his watch 13 times, saying the claim lacked “video or photographic evidence.”
- USA Today’s Daniel Funke deemed the watch-checking scandal “partly false” and said Biden’s single proven glance at his wrist came following the ceremony.
Both Snopes and USA Today were later forced to issue corrections.
- Snopes on Friday acknowledged that the accusations against Biden were “True” and the president was photographed checking his watch at least twice.
- USA Today on Thursday downgraded its fact check to “missing context” and noted that “Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself.”
Even as they walked back their reporting, the fact checkers equivocated.
- Evon maintained in the corrected article: “Social media rumors varied about how many times Biden checked his watch, ranging from once to 13 times. It’s unclear how many times Biden checked his watch during this ceremony.”
- And Funke complained Friday on Twitter that people were “dunking” on them even though they were “trying to do their best.”
The battle is won when the average American regards a corporate journalist exactly as they regard a tobacco executive. https://t.co/vOYLsnhinQ
— Michael Malice (@michaelmalice) September 3, 2021