Media Bias Fact Check Downgrades the Washington Post

On 3/16/2021, the Washington Post amended and corrected a story about December 23, 2020 phone call, in which they claimed an anonymous source told them that former President Trump told election investigator Frances Watson to “find the fraud” and that she would be a “National Hero.” In the original article, the Washington Post used quotes to indicate these are the words of the former President. However, according to the actual recording received by the Wall Street Journal, those words were never said.

Recordings of the call, since released, showed that Trump did ask Watson to scrutinize the ballots, adding she would find “dishonesty” and that she had the “most important job in the country.” But he did not tell her to “find the fraud” or that she would be a “national hero.” The fact that the Washington Post placed these words in quotes indicates that they were spoken by Donald Trump, when in fact they were the words of the anonymous source.

According to Media Bias Fact Check’s criteria, a source that fails two news stories cannot be listed as High in factual reporting. Please note that MBFC provides leeway for failed fact checks with op-eds, however, in the WAPO’s case they have now failed two news reporting fact checks. Based on this, they have been moved to the Mostly Factual category, while still retaining high credibility based on the volume of correct stories to incorrect stories. Although the Washington Post is an IFCN fact checker, MBFC will no longer rely on them, as all fact-checkers must have a High Factual rating.

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8 Comments on "Media Bias Fact Check Downgrades the Washington Post"

  1. Appropriate

  2. Why didn’t your fact checking catch these?

  3. Media Bias Fact Check | March 17, 2021 at 12:19 pm |

    Nope, They sent the audio recording to the Wall Street Journal and not Media Bias Fact Check.

  4. Good to see some accountability in the news cycle. Realistically no one will go back and read a revision made to a two month old article, so its great that there is an actual consequence for these oversights.

  5. Richard Babylon | March 17, 2021 at 2:39 pm |

    This is both disappointing and encouraging. The first because Washington Post has been a trusted source for years, and one that I’m subscribed to. The second because I seek only truth and reliability, even when it shakes my foundation a little. I’m glad to see MediaBiasFactCheck on the job!

    Some will probably wonder how one (more) error could move a source from “High” to “Mostly Factual.” But in any system that awards a finite number of grades (six in your case) as opposed to a continuously sliding scale, there has to be a cutoff point from one to the next, and I appreciate that you honor your own criteria.

    I will mentally adjust my view of Washington Post accordingly, but I wonder if any extremists will do the same. Since WaPo is deemed “left center” by MBFC, I expect to see ultra-right-wing media and consumers of same pounce on this as “proof” that “liberal” journalism can’t be trusted, while those same people would readily criticize you when one of your assessments doesn’t favor them. You’ll probably get more respect — for a moment — from some on the right, while getting less — for a moment — from some on the left. Extremists don’t seem to care much about evidence and reason, and confirmation bias is one hell of a blinder.

  6. I wondered why you used their fact checkers. I never trust anything from the Washington Post dealing with politics.

  7. Richard Babylon | March 17, 2021 at 6:36 pm |

    Well Dave, you seem to be familiar with and perhaps trust this website. Why then don’t you trust that they still have an overall-favorable assessment of Washington Post? “Mostly Factual” does not even nearly equate to entirely untrustworthy. I don’t understand why someone would use the services of a site like MediaBiasFactCheck if you’re cherry-picking what they have to say.

  8. If MBFC’s intent is to determine the credibility of the Post’s reportage, it should have lead by acknowledging the very crucial FACT that this quote placement thing was reported IMMEDIATELY by the Post itself (which actually adds to its credibility) and that the quote itself did not, in any way, alter the basic nature or actual intent of the former president’s shakedown of a state official. That’s a fact.

    Additionally, MBFC should have included the former president’s actual words IN CONTEXT since his actual words very clearly reflect his sinister intent and his ludicrous and actual bald-faced lies. Those omissions by MBFC were far more egregious and intentional than the Post’s placement of quotes around a paraphrased statement by a source—which is all this was. MBFC also chose to omit the fact that the Washington Post was on this with a front page correction without any outside pressure. That’s called integrity, which REINFORCES the Post’s credibility.

    In this silly decision, MBFC chose to use the placement of quotes to justify its downgrade of the Washington Post’s credibility for ACCURATELY reporting the gist of an ex-president’s manipulative and threatening intimidation of a state official—while the fact-checker itself omitted not only crucial context, but critical FACTS. 😂 That in itself is nothing short of perpetuating a falsehood about the actual nature of the conversation that took place. The intention, by both trump and MBFC here, is manipulative and clearly biased. And that is far worse than the Post reporting a source as saying trump said, “find the fraud” instead of “scrutinize the votes and you’ll find the dishonesty.”

    MBFC’s logic here is tortuous and it’s lies-by-omission are an insult to its charter. I rule this fact check is laughable.

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