Perhaps those who predicted a four-year hiatus in media fact checks on the White House should take heart in this game effort from the Washington Post. After yesterday’s press conference, their fact-check team dissected Joe Biden’s statements and found that he “made a number of incorrect statements or made claims that lacked important context.” Not only did they refute several of them, they included most of those rebuttals in this video posted last night.
It’s a start, anyway:
This includes one of the most egregious of the lies Biden offered — the idea that Donald Trump deliberately chose to starve children to death at the border rather than let them in:
“Well, look, the idea that I’m going to say, which I would never do, that if an unaccompanied child ends up at the border, we’re just going to let them starve to death and stay on the other side — no previous administration did that either, except Trump.”
Biden claimed, without apparent evidence, that children “starved to death” in Mexico under President Donald Trump’s 2019 policy allowing border officers to return non-Mexican asylum seekers to locations in Mexico as their claims are adjudicated in immigration courts. Asked for evidence of such deaths, a White House official referred to reports of “widely reported treacherous conditions at camps along the border on the Mexican side that formed as a result of the Trump Administration’s use of the Migrant Protection Protocol, more commonly known as ‘Remain in Mexico.’”
A nurse, for instance, told Reuters that in the camps, “she saw breastfeeding mothers so dehydrated that they could not nurse their babies and parents chewing up donated pizza into mush to feed their infants. Some children were showing early signs of malnutrition.” One woman in the camp told the Guardian: “We’ve gone hungry. We’ve been cold. We’ve had to bathe in the river. This is a desperate place.”
The American Immigration Council also reported on the case of a woman who feared her daughter would die of starvation.
These reports are certainly compelling, but none documented the deaths of children by starvation. Nevertheless, a 2020 report by Physicians for Human Rights described cases of asylum seekers being dismembered or tortured as they waited in Mexico.
The lie goes deeper than that. No one in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, ever said that the point of the policy or the intent of the administration was to “let them starve to death.” The point of the policy was to remove the very large incentive of entering the US while asylum claims processed, an incentive that drives mass migrations to the border. And we are seeing what happened when Biden restored that incentive too — mass migration, human and drug trafficking, and more.
One of the more pointed fact-checks by Glenn Kessler and his team was on the filibuster, where they efficiently punctured Biden’s claim:
“Between 1917 and 1971 the filibuster existed, there were a total of 58 motions to break a filibuster that whole time. Last year alone, there were five times that many.”
When Biden refers to a motion to “break a filibuster,” he is talking about something a vote to invoke cloture — ending Senate debate on a bill or a nomination. There were 298 votes on cloture in the 2019-2020 session (which is two years), but in all but 18 cases, the debate was ended and a final vote could take place. Biden does not mention that Democrats, then in the minority, were responsible for most, if not all, of these filibusters.
D’oh! That rather obvious point got missed by all of the seasoned reporters in the room yesterday, too. Who else would have used filibusters in the last four years of the Trump presidency and GOP Senate control? One might wonder why that claim didn’t get any challenge from the press corps. Or maybe not.
Be sure to read all ten falsehoods highlighted by the WaPo team, and wonder: how much worse would it have been if Biden hadn’t used cheat sheets? A whopper every three minutes instead of every six?
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