As a subset of journalism, the mainstream media’s fact-checking operations appear to have evolved into a clever way to editorialize — and thus attack Republicans in a seemingly nonpartisan way.
Sometimes these efforts in support of the usual agenda go to such ridiculous lengths that they backfire – take the Washington Post for example.
As the violence of the George Floyd protests spread in major metros, President Donald Trump eagerly pointed out that the worst violence occurred in cities run by Democrats.
“You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat-run,” Trump said recently. “Every one of them is Democrat-run. Twenty out of 20. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat-run.”
The Post, however, took exception to Trump’s “statistical factoid.”
“(O)ver and over, he has tried to imply that Democrats broadly and former vice president Joe Biden specifically are soft on crime,” the Post maintained.
Citing FBI data, the paper looked at cities with the highest violent crime totals and the most violent crime per capita.
The result: Democratic mayors led 17 of the 20 with the most violent crimes. The exceptions were San Antonio, Las Vegas and Jacksonville, Fla.
But that is misleading. Local elections in Las Vegas and San Antonio are nonpartisan. But Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is frequently labeled a Democrat, while Texas media has noted San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is a progressive “allied with” Democrats.
So, in essence, 19 out of those 20 are run by Democrats.
Regarding the per-capita count, all but one — Springfield, Mo. — are run by Democrats.
The Post’s headline trumpeted: “Trump keeps claiming that the most dangerous cities in America are all run by Democrats. They aren’t.”
No, just 95 percent of them.
The Post, perhaps realizing how silly this research looked, then pivoted and said that it “doesn’t really matter that the other mayors are Democrats.”
Why? Because it’s “problematic to draw a causal relationship between crime and Democratic leadership.”
“It may be the case that cities with more crime are more likely to have Democratic leaders,” the Post allowed. But, “such a comparison, though, is fraught, relying on the validity of reported crime data, the metric used to establish which cities are included in the analysis, the time period under consideration and so on.”
So, the Post says believe data until the data show something the Post doesn’t like.
In contrast, New York City got progressively and demonstrably safer after electing Rudy Guiliani, a Republican, and Michael Bloomberg, then nominally a Republican.
Meanwhile, in 2001, when Richard Riordan, a Republican, left office as mayor of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported that the city was safer than when he took office. Crime was down “from the alarming peaks of the early 1990s, when Los Angeles voters turned their backs on a generation of Democratic rule at City Hall.”
Label this a fact-check fail.