You may recall that last summer the Washington Post felt the need to correct a headline on a piece it had published many months earlier about the lab leak theory. “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked,” the February 2020 headline read when the story was first published. But in June of 2021, the Post softened the headline and added a correction to the piece which read:
Earlier versions of this story and its headline inaccurately characterized comments by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) regarding the origins of the coronavirus. The term “debunked” and The Post’s use of “conspiracy theory” have been removed because, then as now, there was no determination about the origins of the virus.
Today, the Post issued another correction to a months-old story about Sen. Cotton. This time they changed a fact-check about something Cotton said in a couple of tweets in March of 2021.
Dylann Roof murdered nine people. He's on federal death row.
He'll be getting a $1,400 stimulus check as part of the Democrats' "COVID relief" bill.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 6, 2021
On March 6 at 10:12am, the Senate voted on an amendment to exclude prisoners—like the Boston Bomber—from getting stimulus checks.
Every Democrat voted to send checks to prisoners, and every Republican voted to stop prisoners from getting checks.
Here's the vote: pic.twitter.com/3q5Bw1z0um
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) March 8, 2021
At the time the fact-check was published, Sen. Cotton was given two Pinocchios for these claims, which the Post determined were missing context and merely “talking points.”
Both of these talking points lack significant context. Cotton and Barrasso claim Democrats are actively trying to give stimulus checks to murderers and undocumented immigrants. Not only is that wrong, but both voted for previous stimulus bills that did not have narrowed criteria…
these talking points mainly are crafted for future campaign ads, not serious legislation. Cotton and Barrasso earn Two Pinocchios.
But jump forward to today and Sen. Cotton’s office has demanded a revision to the piece after learning that, exactly as he’d predicted 10 months ago, the surviving Tsarnaev brother did indeed get a government stimulus check.
We received an email from Cotton’s press secretary, James Arnold, who noted that Tsarnaev did indeed receive a stimulus check. This news emerged in a filing made by the Justice Department seeking to seize the money for criminal restitution he still owes.
“You portrayed Senator Cotton’s amendment as pure political theater—’not serious legislation’—warning of an outcome that, according to your article, was very unlikely to happen,” Arnold wrote. “Now that it has in fact happened, we’re asking that you update your story to include that Senator Cotton’s concerns did come true and that his amendment would have prevented it.” He added that “we also disagree with your claims that Senator Cotton’s efforts were solely political, designed only for campaign ads etc., instead of based on legitimate policy disagreements.” He noted, for instance, the use of the phrase “scaremongering.”…
Cotton’s predictive powers should be acknowledged. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check — and Tsarnaev did.
As a result, the verdict was changed from two Pinocchios to one, which Kessler says is the Post’s equivalent of “mostly true.”
I’m honestly not sure what the one Pinocchio is still there for other than saving face. Sen. Cotton warned notorious criminals would get government checks and one of the two he named did get one. That may be a talking point that’s useful to the GOP for campaign ads but it’s also completely true. Isn’t the truth of the thing what the fact-checker is supposed to be concerned about? I thought so anyway. Arguing that Sen. Cotton voted for something similarly lax in the past isn’t a fact check so much as it’s oppo research for Democrats. That’s fine if you’re a partisan blogger trying to make a case against an opponent. It’s not a “fact” check though.