BY C. Douglas Golden, The Western JournalApril 4, 2023
1 year ago
 | April 4, 2023
1 year ago

WaPo's 'Fact-Checker' Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine, But It Gets Worse for Him After He Whines About It

It's no secret that liberal billionaire George Soros has been funding, either through direct donations from his Open Society Foundations or through donations to political action committees, progressive district attorney candidates who have little interest in enforcing the law strictly -- unless a high-profile Republican is involved.

One of these is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a man elected in 2021 who temporarily made certain armed robberies into misdemeanors before he was forced to reverse course due to public outrage. He has found a man for whom he can turn almost-never-prosecuted misdemeanors into felonies, however: former President Donald Trump.

In the wake of Trump's indictment by a grand jury on issues related to l'affaire Stormy Daniels, Trump and other conservatives have rightly called Bragg a "Soros-funded DA."

However, The Washington Post's chief fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, claimed in a piece published Saturday that "the intense focus on Soros is misplaced," that "Soros never directly funded Bragg." Kessler also wrote that, according to the Anti-Defamation League, criticism of "Soros figures in a significant number of antisemitic tweets."

Kessler then got himself in a huff because his alleged fact-check drew a "readers added context" note on Twitter -- which pointed out that Soros had, indeed, given the largest individual donation to a PAC that had funded Bragg. Kessler then got in another huff after he contested the "added context"note in another tweet -- and got slapped with another "added context" note for his trouble.

The contretemps started, fittingly, enough, on April Fool's Day -- Saturday, that is, when Kessler tweeted about his fact-check regarding the "incendiary claim" that Bragg is a Soros-funded DA. He awarded it "Three Pinocchios" out of four -- the second-biggest class of lie on the Post's scale.

The "added context" notes are only visible in the Twitter app. Below is a screen shot of Kessler's tweet with the note visible.

"From the moment it appeared that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg would indict Trump for his role in hush-money payments to an adult-film star, [Trump] has suggested that Bragg is operating at the direction of liberal billionaire George Soros — who he claimed had given more than $1 million to Bragg," Kessler wrote.

"But the intense focus on Soros is misplaced. Soros never directly funded Bragg, but instead contributed to a group that supported Bragg and other liberal candidates seeking to be prosecutors," he contended.

"Moreover, the repeated mention of Soros plays into antisemitic conspiracy theories that Soros, a Hungarian American Holocaust survivor, is a wealthy puppet-master who works behind the scenes to manipulate elections and further his goals. The Anti-Defamation League found in 2018 that Soros figures in a significant number of antisemitic tweets."

Trump's campaign, quite rightly, contested the silly claim that simply pointing out that a billionaire named Soros pours massive amounts of money into U.S. elections to try and secure progressive outcomes is somehow bigoted, especially given that Soros was the single biggest donor to the Democrats during the 2022 midterm cycle, with $129 million spent in various ways, according to Visual Capitalist, and he'll presumably be spending more in the 2024 cycle.

(The second-biggest Democrat donor during the midterms was former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried at $39 million. Bankman-Fried will presumably be spending less on politics in 2024. Just a guess.)

“It’s not antisemitic to point out Soros funded/supported Bragg,” said Trump spokesman Steven Cheung responded, according to Kessler. “What world are you living in?”

Twitter users contested the whole premise of the article, however -- with a "added context" note being added when the tweet was viewed in the app. The label isn't an official fact-check by Twitter, but states that it is "written by people who use Twitter, and appears when rated helpful by others."

"Soros donated $1 million to the Color of Change PAC, the largest individual donation it received in the 2022 election cycle, days after it endorsed Bragg for district attorney and pledged more than $1 million in spending to support his candidacy," the "added context" note stated, linking to a CNBC article that said just that.

Enter Kessler, peeved as all-get out that the fact-checker had been flouted by other fact-checkers.

"Twitter trolls who posted a 'community note' to this tweet apparently have not read the actual fact check. Click the link and you will find that Color of Change did not spend $1 million in independent expenditures on Bragg, as people often claim," Kessler wrote. "And the link in the community note leads to an article headlined "Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg's ties to billionaire George Soros are not as close as Republicans claim"

Which led to another "added context" note: "The original Community Note says that the Color of Change PAC *pledged* $1 million. Soros donated $1 million to the PAC days after it endorsed Bragg and pledged more than $1 million in spending to support his candidacy. The PAC ultimately spent $420,000."

Boy, Kessler sure showed them.

Christina Pushaw, a communications aide for Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, noted that while she'd seen a "double-ratio" for Kessler's tweets before -- i.e., far more comments than "likes," a sure sign the tweet hasn't been well received -- this was the first time she'd "seen a double community-note. Bravo, fact-checker!"

Meanwhile, City Journal writer, Manhattan Institute fellow and conservative activist Christopher Rufo cited a source that would beg to differ on the "incendiary" claim that George Soros supports progressive prosecutors with his money -- namely, George Soros.

Rufo also noted Kessler's own "fact-check" internally fact-checked itself in a section that Kessler mostly ignored.

Indeed, Kessler note that Soros cut a $1 million check just six days after Color of Change endorsed Bragg and said it would spend "over one million dollars" to support the now-Manhattan DA:

"While that appears like careful coordination, both Soros and Color of Change say the two events are unrelated. Color of Change says it makes decisions on whom to endorse without input from its donors," Kessler wrote.

Sure, that "appears like careful coordination," but rest assured it's not, Kessler writes, because the Color of Change says it's not. The chief "fact-checker" for the Post simply repeats the PAC's assertions for his readers -- whom he must think are astonishingly naive -- and calls it a day after that.

DeSantis deputy press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, also noted a source that dented the Washington Post fact-checker's claim that "the repeated mention of Soros plays into antisemitic conspiracy theories that Soros, a Hungarian American Holocaust survivor, is a wealthy puppet-master who works behind the scenes to manipulate elections and further his goals."

You'll never believe this -- but it's the Washington Post!

Boy, that's some grade-A anti-Semitic conspiracy theorizing right there. High-time the WaPo's Kessler started holding the bigots at the WaPo to account.

Redfern also noted Kessler had apparently not even read the community note he complained about in the second tweet.

And believe you me, there were plenty of other Twitterers chiming in on Kessler's doozy of a "fact-check":

So why the "Three Pinocchios" then? Soros spent his money on a PAC that donated nearly half-a-million to Bragg, who narrowly won the Democratic primary for Manhattan DA.

"In any case, there is no evidence Soros has influence over Bragg," Kessler wrote. "The incendiary focus on Soros raises more difficult questions. Given the tenuous connection between Soros and Bragg, it’s a dangerous game that plays into stereotypes of rich Jewish financiers secretly controlling events."

But Soros doesn't need influence over Bragg. He already knows what the prosecutors whose campaigns he funds are going to do: Go soft on crime, unless the alleged criminal is a prominent Republican or conservative.

Furthermore, none of the claims Kessler was fact-checking said there was direct influence by Soros over Bragg. Print out this article, put it out in an empty field in the middle of Kansas, then build a scarecrow the size of the Empire State Building next to it. The scarecrow will still only be the second-biggest straw-man in the field.

But c'mon, Glenn. Explain those "Three Pinocchios" a bit further. I'd love to see a third community context note while we're at it.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: C. Douglas Golden, The Western Journal



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