Even before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, a slew of self-proclaimed legacy media “fact-checkers” relentlessly attacked him. Many media outlets, from the Associated Press to the Washington Post, have routinely rebutted or refuted Trump’s public statements on a variety of issues, parsing his every word and declaring many of his assertions as either outright lies, half-truths, or misrepresentations. Trump certainly gave his critics plenty of ammunition for such claims, and still does, with his often sloppy or incoherent mastery of facts and policy. However, the great irony is that fact-checker critics have played as fast and loose with the facts as he has, all while playing cover for the current president’s son, Hunter Biden.
I recently encountered this truism when I submitted a letter to the editor of my local paper in Lancaster. Unfortunately, like many other papers, it has become “woke,” obsessed with many of the usual left-wing causes: in this case, the alleged “insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. My letter pointed out the obvious: the attack that day was a riot, not an “insurrection.” Trump called on his supporters to march “peaceably” to the Capitol, not break into it. Those who went inside never fired a shot, and the only people who died were Trump supporters, one at the hands of a Capitol police officer. Those who committed crimes that day have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law — and rightfully so.
Included in my letter was a paragraph that stated simply: “The public record shows [Trump’s] administration requested the deployment of the National Guard before the rally, and D.C. officials explicitly rejected the request. Speaker Pelosi did the same thing about the request from the Capitol police. Consequently, these officials are the ones who are responsible for the violence that day.”
READ MORE — Craig Snyder: A Keystone for American Renewal
I was politely told by the opinion editor, however, that “the facts do not support that version of the events,” and he included a link to the AP’s “fact-check” about Jan. 6 entitled “Trump distorts record on National Guard in D.C.”
I had just seen a former Trump official, Kash Patel, on TV confirming Trump’s request for the Guard, so was he mistaken, I wondered? Was he lying? And yet, that very same AP “fact check” did not actually say Trump lied about requesting troops. In fact, it said, “While Trump was involved in discussions in the days prior to the Wednesday rioting about the National Guard’s response, he was not part of the decision-making process that day.” So, in fact, Trump did request bringing in the Guard to protect the Capitol, just not on “that day.”
Well, that’s rather disingenuous, I thought, so I checked another “fact-checking” site about the events of that day. The Washington Post’s popular Glenn Kessler also wrote an article on the topic, entitled “Trump falsely claims he ‘requested’ 10,000 troops rejected by Pelosi.” Like the other fact checking articles, the title implied that Trump lied about requesting troops. Yet in the very first sentence under the subhead “The Facts,” Kessler writes, “The fact that Trump at one point mentioned 10,000 National Guard troops is not new. On Jan. 22, Vanity Fair published an inside look at what transpired at the Pentagon during the insurrection, with the reporter embedded with acting defense secretary Christopher Miller and his top aides during this period.”
I was politely told by the opinion editor, however, that ‘the facts do not support that version of the events.’
Vanity Fair wrote this:
On the evening of January 5—the night before a white supremacist mob [sic] stormed the Capitol … Christopher Miller was at the White House with his chief of staff, Kash Patel…. The president, Miller recalled, asked how many troops the Pentagon planned to turn out the following day. “We’re going to provide any National Guard assistance the District requests,” Miller responded. “And Trump goes, ‘You’re going to need 10,000 people.’… And we’re like, maybe, but you know, someone’s going to have to ask for it.” At that point Miller remembered the president telling him, “You do what you need to do. You’re going to need 10,000.”
Kessler then writes, “So 10,000 appears to be a guesstimate based on the president’s own inflated belief in his ability to draw a crowd.” This snarky comment, of course, gives away the game. He is in no way an impartial or objective “fact-checker.” “The statement did not come as part of a meeting to discuss how to handle the event,” Kessler continued, “Instead, it appears to have been an offhand remark. That’s not the same as a ‘request.’”
Like the AP fact-checker, Kessler is playing word games here. President Trump clearly stated his wishes regarding the use of the National Guard, and James Miller as acting defense secretary was obligated to act on that request or tell the president why he would not. Kessler ignores that fact and pretends that since there was no “formal request,” Trump’s expressed desire for troops didn’t really count.
Instead, Kessler continues, “Miller and other senior Pentagon officials never relayed the 10,000 number to anyone outside the Defense Department, according to a former U.S. official who was familiar with the matter. ‘They didn’t act on it because based on discussions with federal and local law enforcement leadership, they didn’t think a force of that size would be necessary,’ the former official said.”
In other words, Miller and other Defense Department officials ignored the president’s specific request for troops the night before the Capitol riot and seriously underestimated the number of troops needed. Had they not done so, things may have turned out very differently at the Capitol the following day. Kessler goes on to quote Pentagon spokesman John Kirby as saying, “There’s no record of such an order being given,” but of course, how could there be when the president’s request was ignored? That Kessler continues to call himself a “fact-checker” after producing such sloppy and dishonest reporting is outrageous.
Another “fact-checker” at USA Today also rated Trump’s request for troops as false, again quoting the Pentagon’s John Kirby, even though he also refers to the Vanity Fair article. Clearly, its “fact-checkers” were also aware of Trump’s request, so rating Trump’s request as false is a lie in itself.
At least one administration official said D.C. insiders were also aware of Trump’s request, but they deny it. Those same officials requested only 340 National Guard troops on Jan. 4, according to USA Today, mostly for traffic control.
According to the same AP “fact-check” about that day, “The Justice Department called the Capitol Police and offered FBI agents as the mob was descending, but the police turned down the offer. Justice called back a second time and help was accepted.” [Emphasis added.] But the delay by local authorities to provide additional troops was catastrophic to the efforts to contain the violence. According to the AP, “It took more than two and a half hours for the additional Guard forces to report to the D.C. armory, get a briefing and their riot gear, and begin moving toward the Capitol to help the overrun law enforcement.” By then, the Capitol riot was in full progress. What a dereliction of duty to wait until the morning of an event expected to draw hundreds of thousands to the mall to address the security needs of the Capitol.
Any sentient human being can see the routine pattern of disinformation on the part of the mainstream media.
In short, a truthful fact check of Trump’s claims about that day would have concluded that regardless of Trump’s protocol in requesting National Guard assistance, the failure to call out the Guard in a timely and effective way lay not with Trump but with the Pentagon officials who ignored his request, D.C. officials like Mayor Muriel Bowser, who requested too little, too late, and congressional leadership, including House Speaker Pelosi and the sergeant-at-arms, who took little or no action until it was too late.
Any sentient human being can see the routine pattern of disinformation on the part of the mainstream media. Their partisan agenda has been uniquely exposed when the New York Times and the Washington Post recently admitted that the entire saga of Hunter Biden’s laptop, including all its seedy and incriminating evidence of corruption involving both Hunter and President Biden, was true. In 2020, of course, virtually the entire legacy media denied the laptop story and repeated the lie from members of the national “intelligence” community that the laptop and its contents were Russian “disinformation” even though they knew there was not a shred of evidence for their claim.
Clearly, the legacy media and its so-called fact-checkers distort, misrepresent, and lie to suit its own political agendas. They certainly don’t serve the American people.
David Lampo is a longtime Republican activist and was the publications director at the Cato Institute for over 35 years. He is the author of A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012) and has written numerous op-eds.