On the fourth try, Washington Post gives Terry McAuliffe four Pinocchios

AP Photo/Steve Helber, File

This morning the Washington Post fact-checked some extremely dubious coronavirus numbers Terry McAuliffe has been using in his speeches. We had this story in the headlines earlier and I wasn’t going to write about it until I saw this tweet about the fact-check.


Here’s what this Fox News editor noticed: [emphasis added]

In speaking about the threat of the coronavirus to the state, McAuliffe frequently touts numbers — often wrong numbers about the impact on children. When we first queried the McAuliffe campaign about his figures, we were told it was a slip of the tongue. Okay, we understand that, and so we passed on a fact check. But then his tongue kept slipping…

One could argue that citing a weekend number in this fashion — “We had 8,000 cases yesterday in Virginia” and “Just this week, 8,000 cases on Monday in Virginia” — certainly would leave the misleading impression he was talking about a one-day number. But we got busy with other stuff and chose not to do a fact check

The McAuliffe campaign said that he simply misspoke. Okay, we moved on.

Why has McAuliffe repeatedly used a higher number than that? Good question. A spokesman for his campaign did not respond to emails and text messages over a period of four days.


As Joe Biden might say, c’mon fat. The Virginia governor’s race has been a hot topic for weeks and as Ed pointed out earlier today, it’s now a dead heat. A hit from the Post calling McAuliffe a flagrant liar would definitely be unwelcome and potentially significant. And yet, for some reason, the Post just kept giving McAuliffe a pass, over and over, taking any lame excuse.

But okay, I guess this is a case of better late than never. You could even argue that by putting this off, McAuliffe made things worse for himself. Now this story is out a week before the election.

Putting all of that aside, what the Post found is that McAuliffe has been intentionally lying about COVID numbers, using weekend numbers in a way that makes it sound like he’s talking about a single day’s cases and then lying about the number of kids in the hospital with COVID. This isn’t just a series of mistakes. McAuliffe is making things up to scare people. Here’s the Post’s conclusion:

…this has happened too many times for McAuliffe’s language to be an accident. He repeatedly mentions a weekend number for cases, but suggests it’s a one-day figure. He offers wildly inflated figures for child hospitalizations, suggesting again that these were daily figures and claiming twice that these many children were in ICUs. Instead, he appears to be citing a figure for all of the children hospitalized with covid-19 in Virginia over the past 19 months — which is still inflated.


They give him four Pinocchios which he clearly earned. It appears his campaign never did offer an explanation for any of this. Once the Post finally decided to run the fact-check, they just gave up trying.

Update: Someone tell him to stop.

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David Strom 5:20 PM | February 22, 2024