Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post fact-checked the first Democratic debate and found some glaring errors by the candidates.

The Post called out Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for stating: “I will single out companies like Halliburton or Amazon that pay nothing in taxes, and our need to change that.”

The Post’s Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Meg Kelly reported: “‘Amazon for many years reinvested all its profits into expansion, with the result that it paid little or no taxes because taxes are calculated based on profits,’ Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive vice president of the Tax Foundation, told us in 2018. ‘However, in the last few years, it has expanded its warehouse footprint and now pays considerable federal taxes as well as state income and property taxes.’

The Wall Street Journal reported this month that it’s not clear whether Amazon paid taxes in 2018. But its tax rate from 2012 through 2018 was 8 percent, according to the Journal. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)”

The Post also called out former Rep. Beto O’Rourke for overstating the facts on crime: “You have 2.3 million of our fellow Americans behind bars — it’s the largest prison population on the face of the planet. Many are there for nonviolent drug crimes including possession of marijuana at a time that more than half the states have legalized or decriminalized it,” O’Rourke said.

Yet the Post noted: “O’Rourke misses some context on people incarcerated for marijuana possession.

The United States does have the largest prison population on the planet. The most recent edition of the World Prison Population List, published by the U.K.-based International Centre for Prison Studies, showed 2.1 million Americans were incarcerated, as of November 2018.

How many people are incarcerated for “nonviolent crimes including possession of marijuana”? Not as many. At the federal level, 47.5 percent of prisoners (81,900) were serving a sentence of any length at the end of September 2016 after being convicted of a drug offense as their most serious crime. But doesn’t just include drug possession, it includes all kinds of drug offenses. “More than 99% of federal drug offenders are sentenced for trafficking,” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Moreover, separate data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission show that only 92 people were sentenced for marijuana possession in the federal system in 2017, out of a total of nearly 20,000 drug convictions.”

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