Accuracy in Media

It seems a little unfair to shout at Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) when he’s right, but that is what HuffPost does in a new piece. Not only is that shouting unfair it’s also wrong. The specific thing that Cotton said is actually correct. 

The argument is about the First Step Act and obviously, the underlying idea is whether it was a good thing or a bad one. We’ve no view on that here, we’re interested in accuracy in media, as our organization name might suggest. Cotton then says, “It’s your party who voted in lockstep for the First Step Act, that let thousands of violent felons on the street who have now committed innumerable violent crimes,” and so follows a lot of shouting.

But President Donald Trump signed it into law – which he did of course, that’s what a president does with a bill passed by both parts of Congress, unless he’s going to veto it. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says “the Republicans were in the majority” which is partially but not wholly true. Some were and some were not.

This then continues into a general pile-on of Cotton with HuffPost making the most of it of course. 

Except what Cotton actually said is true. The Ds did vote in lockstep for it. OK, we’d not run with Wikipedia as being absolute proof of anything but it’s a good starting point: “No Democratic congressional members voted against the First Step Act. “

The votes were 87 to 12 in the Senate, 358-36 on the final version in the House, all votes against having an R by their name. Tom Cotton was in fact right in his statement.

HuffPost is now in the BuzzFeed stable and gains, as a site itself, 66 million visits a month. It’s ranked number 28 in news and media sites and so really should know better. It’s an influential part of today’s media.

It’s not as if we’re asking that a journalist go read the entire Senate record to find out what happened, a quick scan of Wikipedia would do. But the joy of piling on a sitting Senator – which we agree can be fun – was such that even that was skipped. Not good enough HuffPost. In what Tom Cotton specifically said he was entirely correct.

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