Monday, July 4, 2022

Washington Post Fact Checker Spreads Easily Debunked Lie About Clarence Thomas

Washington Post Fact Checker Spreads Easily Debunked Lie About Clarence Thomas

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What the fact checkers opt-not to cover is often a greater sign of their bias than what they do. 

In a recent case, not only did most fact checkers completely ignore an easily debunked but widely spread report about Clarence Thomas, at least one of them spread the lie.

Thomas had written, in a dissenting opinion on Thursday in a case about a religious liberty challenge to New York's COVID vaccine mandate for health care workers that some "[pro-lifers] object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.”

This is not his opinion - Science magazine has noted that the COVID vaccines were “manufactured using cells derived from human fetuses electively aborted decades ago.” And as the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney summarizes: "Pfizer and Moderna, while developing the vaccines, tested them on a line of cells that was derived from the kidney of an aborted Dutch baby. Johnson & Johnson used a cell line derived from a different aborted baby not in the testing, but in the manufacture of the vaccine. The cells derived from the baby aren’t in the vaccine, but the cells act as something of a catalyst for a crucial ingredient (the adenovirus) in the J&J vaccine."

But most relevant to the reporting on Clarence Thomas' comments, note how he wasn't expressing a personal opinion, he was quoting the concerns of others, and that he never said the vaccines contain the cells of aborted fetuses, he said they were derived from aborted fetuses. Contrast that with how NBC News, Axios, and POLITICO reported on the dissent. 
  • "In a sharply worded dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas expressed support Thursday for a debunked claim that all Covid vaccines are made with cells from 'aborted children.'" wrote NBC's Adam Ederman and Aria Bendix. "It is not true that Covid vaccines are manufactured using fetal cell lines, nor do they contain any aborted cells."
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested Thursday in a dissenting opinion that coronavirus vaccines were developed using cells from 'aborted children.'" reported Axios. "Reality check: No coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. contains the cells of aborted fetuses."
  • POLITICO headlined their article "Clarence Thomas suggests Covid vaccines are developed using cells of ‘aborted children,’" but "None of the Covid-19 vaccines in the United States contain the cells of aborted fetuses."
Impressively, all managed to respond to an allegation "from" Justice Thomas that he didn't himself actually make, and they couldn't even quote it correctly in responding to it. All three articles admit what is quoted by Thomas while adding an additional invented claim to debunk, that the vaccines "contain the cells of aborted fetuses." Neither Justice Thomas or the petitioners said they did.  

So how in the world do three publications all fact check the same claim that Clarence Thomas didn't make? The Examiner's Carney believes it coud've been from a tweet by Slate reporter Mark Joseph Stern, who tweeted out to his gullible followers "In his dissent, Thomas claims that COVID vaccines were developed with the use of 'aborted children.'"

Amid all this, not one of the media fact checkers stepped in to clarify the record. In fact, at least one of them, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, was more than happy to circulate the bogus story. 

What would we do without the fact checkers? 

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