Modern-day ‘factchecking’: PolitiFact offers ‘context’ to Biden’s comments comparing opponents to segregationists

In the upside-down world that is modern “fact-checking,” left-leaning PolitiFact is attempting to give President Biden’s controversial comments comparing U.S. Senators to infamous white supremacists “context.”

In an article published Thursday, the Poynter Institute watchdogs claimed the president didn’t “explicitly” call his opponents racists.

Well, as long as he wasn’t “explicit” about it.

“Look what I said,” Biden snapped at a reporter Wednesday after it was implied that the president’s comments broke his promise of a return to civility. “Go back and read what I said and tell me if you think I called anyone who voted on the side of the position taken by Bull Connor that they were Bull Connor? And that is an interesting reading of English. Yeah, I assume you got it in the journals because you like to write.”

Ranting word salad aside, PolitiFact now claims it did exactly that.

“We went back to read what he said,” PolitiFact’s Jeff Cercone wrote. “While Biden didn’t explicitly accuse those who don’t support the voting bill of being racists, he did say that their vote would be remembered unfavorably in history, much like the actions of those past figures who didn’t support civil rights or an end to slavery.”

This is similar to the equally weak explanation White House press secretary Jen Psaki gave when asked about the eyebrow-raising statements last Friday.

“I think everybody listening to that speech who’s speaking on the level, as my mother would say, would not that he was not comparing them as humans,” Psaki said. “He was comparing the choice to those figures in history and where they’re going to position themselves as they determine whether they’re going to support the fundamental right to vote or not.

The subtle distinction was, not surprisingly, lost on many.

So what, exactly, did Biden say?

Last week, in a fiery speech in Georgia aimed at mustering support for election overhaul bills, even if it meant killing the filibuster to do it, Biden posed these rhetorical questions:

“So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be on the side of Dr. [Martin Luther] King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”

Do you want to be on the side of angels and puppies or two ignorant racists and the only president of the Confederate States of America?

Eddie Izzard’s old routine, “Cake or Death?” comes to mind.

The over-the-top comments drew swift criticism from all sides, with many calling the speech divisive, and some going as far as calling the comments “self-defeating,” as they would likely cause his opponents to dig in deeper and push back harder.

And judging by the responses, PolitiFact’s “context” has done little to change their minds.

Backlash be damned, comparing his opposition to racists is something on which Biden is apparently willing to double down. The president has repeatedly referred to Republican voting and election legislation as “Jim Crow 2.0.”

Meanwhile, Biden’s Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act both failed to advance over the 60-vote filibuster threshold this week.

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Melissa Fine

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