I’ll offer a tip of my hat to the Associated Press for jumping out there with some rapid fact-checking of Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech last night. The press has been predictably charitable toward Biden for much of his first year in office, but that doesn’t seem to be the rule anymore. In fact, they even dinged Uncle Joe on some rather subtle inferences he made, as opposed to sticking to blatantly inaccurate statements. One of the first to catch my attention was the correction issued to Biden’s claim that gun manufacturers are “the only industry in America that can’t be sued, the only one.” The AP put that idea to rest quickly.
THE FACTS: That’s false. While gun manufacturers do have legal protections from being held liable for injuries caused by criminal misuse of their weapons thanks to the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, they are not exempt or immune from being sued.
The law lays out exceptions where manufacturers or dealers can be held liable for damages their weapons cause, such as defects or damages in the design of the gun, negligence, or breach of contract or warranty regarding the purchase of a gun.
The fact-checkers go on to point out the one, very recent example that came to my mind upon hearing Biden say this. So you think gun manufacturers can’t be sued? Try telling that to Remington Arms.
The AP also popped Biden for some of his claims about how far the COVID recovery has come. During the speech, he claimed that “severe cases are down to a level not seen since July of last year.” The AP was quick to note that some metrics are doing better, but when someone says “severe cases,” that most certainly must include the number of people who died. They point out that on July 1 of 2021, the CDC recorded 289 deaths. Last Monday they reported 1,985. That’s not even close.
Biden didn’t fare much better when he talked about new factories springing up in Ohio. He said there would be “up to eight state-of-the-art factories in one place, 10,000 new jobs.” The AP points out that those numbers are aspirational at best and likely to turn out to be fictional in the long run.
THE FACTS: His statement is premature. That many factories are not imminent and may or may not ever be built.
Earlier this year, Intel announced it would open two factories expected to employ 3,000 people. The other 7,000 positions the project is slated to create are temporary construction jobs. It is also planning a chip foundry business that makes chips designed by other firms. Construction is expected to start this year.
There were other dings administered to Biden in the AP report. They described as “dubious” Biden’s claim that more domestic manufacturing would drive down costs and his attempt to blame current inflation rates largely on supply chain disruptions. They correctly point out that rising wages and an overheating economy feeding off of bargain-basement interest rates are the actual drivers. They also tagged Biden for saying that the infrastructure bill was the “single biggest investment in history.” The AP rather dryly states, “No. It’s wasn’t that historic.”
It’s too soon to get our hopes up yet, but I would like to believe that we’ll see more fact-checking of Biden and the Democrats as we move closer to the midterms. The media hasn’t covered itself in glory over the past year when it comes to holding Biden and his party accountable for much of anything. Perhaps they can do better in 2022.