January 18, 2022

WaPo fact-checker returns after Cotton correctly predicted Boston Bomber would receive the COVID stimulus check

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler offered a sort of mea culpa after rewarding two Pinocchios with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., for predicting that murderers such as convicted terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will COVID stimulus control.

In March 2021, Kessler ran the headline “Murders, Undocumented Immigrants: Hyped Claims About Who Gets the Incentive Checks” with an image of Cotton pasted onto the page, disputing the claims he and Senator John Barrasso, R-Wy., made. that the $1,400 checks Americans would receive would go to those who were not qualified or worthy of them.

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“On the 8th of March [Cotton] tweeted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing would also get benefits, declaring, “Get ready for campaign ads,” Kessler wrote at the time, quoting Cotton. especially because previous incentive laws passed under GOP control last year also failed to block payments to prisoners and the small subset of undocumented immigrants referred to by Barrasso.

ILE - This file photo, released on April 19, 2013, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260 .  (FBI via AP, File)

ILE – This file photo, released on April 19, 2013, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260 . (FBI via AP, File)
(FBI via AP, File)

Kessler noted that the stimulus laws “excluded some people,” but the law “does not exclude payments to inmates” and that a judge ruled that the IRS “couldn’t rewrite the law just after it had already made payments to people in prison.” .”

“But prisoner advocates say this is just theatre,” Kessler wrote before citing activists who backed down Cotton’s claims.

Regarding the “Pinocchio test,” Kessler previously concluded that both Cotton and Barrasso’s comments “miss significant context.”

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“Cotton and Barrasso argue that Democrats are actively trying to issue incentive checks to murderers and undocumented immigrants. Not only is that wrong, but they both voted for previous stimulus bills that didn’t have narrowed criteria,” Kessler wrote. “Barrasso didn’t resort to Cotton’s scaremongering, saying more cautiously that inmates could get a stimulus check. But his immigration phrasing was misleading, as viewers may have thought Barrasso was talking about all undocumented immigrants.”

“Both points of discussion are primarily for future campaign ads, not serious legislation. Cotton and Barrasso deserve Two Pinocchio,” the fact-checker added.

It turns out that the Boston Bomber did indeed receive a $1,400 incentive check.

Records show that Tsarnaev, who is currently serving a life sentence after murdering three people and injuring hundreds of others during the 2013 Boston Marathon, has received more than $21,000 since his time as a prisoner and one of the deposits was COVID-19. aid he received in June 2021. is now an attempt by federal officials in Massachusetts to recover that $1,400 check, among other funds the terrorist has collected in prison to spend on the more than $101 million he owes his victims.

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That forced Kessler to reconsider his badly outdated fact-check after receiving an email from Cotton’s press secretary, requesting an update to the 2021 article.

“We take such requests seriously and are always willing to fact-check in the light of new information,” Kessler wrote in the “update” published Thursday. “Cotton got the Two-Pinocchio rating mainly because his comments lacked context… Still, Cotton’s predictive powers must be acknowledged. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check — and Tsarnaev did.”

“But in hindsight, using the phrase ‘scare-mongering’ was inappropriate. Cotton had raised a legitimate concern, even if he framed it in a political way. The term ‘hunted’ in the headline also went too far. Kessler admitted. “So we’ll downgrade this claim to One Pinocchio — our version of ‘mostly true.’ His statement still lacks some context, but he was certainly right that Tsarnaev would get a stimulus check.”

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Kessler pushed back a critic who claimed the fact-checker issued a “correction”, stressing that “this is an update in light of new information”.

“It’s important to let readers know if there’s anything new,” Kessler tweeted. “I would argue that a willingness to update and, if necessary, admit mistakes increases your credibility. In fact, acknowledging mistakes is a key point [International Fact-Checking Network] principle.”

Fox News contacted Kessler for comment.

Cotton previously took a victory lap on Twitter, to write“Now that the Boston Bomber has received its stimulus check from Biden’s slush fund, I look forward to the @washingtonpost updating this fact check,” adding: “Remember: Every Democratic senator voted against my amendment that would have deterred inmates get checks.”

CNN welcomed Washington post-fact checker Glenn Kessler on Thursday to brag about his most popular fact checks of 2021, despite the No. 1 article being widely mocked.  (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

CNN welcomed Washington post-fact checker Glenn Kessler on Thursday to brag about his most popular fact checks of 2021, despite the No. 1 article being widely mocked. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty Images / Singerhmk – wiki commons)

In June, the Washington Post issued a blatant correction to a 2020 report that accused Cotton of peddling a “debunked” “conspiracy theory” when he claimed the coronavirus was leaking from a Wuhan lab in China.

“Earlier versions of this story and headline inaccurately characterized Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) comments regarding the origin of the coronavirus,” the report read in the correction. “The term ‘debunked’ and the use of ‘conspiracy theory’ by The Post have been removed because there was no determination, then or now, about the origin of the virus.”

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The headline was changed to “Tom Cotton continues to repeat a theory about the coronavirus that scientists have disputed.”

The media is finally taking the lab leak theory seriously after the Wall Street Journal reported last year that US intelligence believes at least three Wuhan scientists were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019.

Stephanie Pagones and Brie Stimson of Fox News contributed to this report.


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