The Washington Post appears quite selective when it comes to the urgency of its “fact-checks” of certain prominent politicians.
The piece, “Tim Scott often talks about his grandfather and cotton. There’s more to that tale,” examined the “origin stories” of comments the Senator has made over the years about being an ancestor of slaves. Scott has said his grandfather dropped out of elementary school to pick cotton, so the liberal newspaper enlisted its fact-checker to get to the bottom of the claim.
“The tale of his grandfather fits in with a narrative of Scott moving up from humble circumstances to reach a position of political power in the U.S. Senate,” Kessler wrote. “But Scott separately has acknowledged that his great-great-grandfather, Lawrence Ware, once owned 900 acres in South Carolina.”
Kessler declared he “dug into the South Carolina census records” to “close this gap in Scott’s narrative” despite admitting “census data is historically questionable at best — and at times unreliable.”
“Our research reveals a more complex story than what Scott tells audiences. Scott’s grandfather’s father was also a substantial landowner — and Scott’s grandfather, Artis Ware, worked on that farm,” Kessler wrote. “Scott’s family history in South Carolina offers a fascinating window into a little-known aspect of history in the racist South following the Civil War and in the immediate aftermath of slavery — that some enterprising Black families purchased property as a way to avoid sharecropping and achieve a measure of independence from White-dominated society.”
Kessler then dove into a longwinded tale of Scott’s ancestors using data he already admitted was often unreliable.
The fact-checker ultimately concluded to not give the lawmaker any Pinocchios, writing, “Scott’s ‘cotton to Congress’ line is missing some nuance, but we are not going to rate his statements.”
However, the Washington Post has yet to look into the “tale” from Vice President Harris, which has been accused of plagiarism earlier this year.
Harris has repeatedly boasted of her parents’ involvement in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In an Elle magazine interview that was published in October, she recalled accompanying them to marches as a toddler in a stroller.
“Senator Kamala Harris started her life’s work young,” writer Ashley C. Ford led off the piece. “She laughs from her gut, the way you would with family, as she remembers being wheeled through an Oakland, California, civil rights march in a stroller with no straps with her parents and her uncle. At some point, she fell from the stroller … and the adults, caught up in the rapture of protest, just kept on marching. By the time they noticed little Kamala was gone and doubled back, she was understandably upset.”
“My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing,” Harris told the magazine. “And she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’”
This was a story Harris has told over and over again from her June 2020 appearance on “The Tonight Show” to her 2019 book tour. It was documented as early as 2004 in an interview with W Magazine.
However, after Harris’ ‘Fweedom” anecdote resurfaced on social media in January, Twitter users @EngelsFreddie and Andray Domise, a contributing editor of the Canadian publication Maclean’s, noted that her story resembled one told by civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. in a 1965 interview published in Playboy.
“I will never forget a moment in Birmingham when a White policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother,” King said at the time. “‘What do you want?’ the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked at him straight in the eye and answered, ‘Fee-dom.’ She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.”
Fox News reached out to Kessler in light of his fact-check of Sen. Scott’s ancestry to see whether or not he was going to fact-check the vice president’s “Fweedom” story to determine if it was in fact plagiarized.
The Post’s “fact-check” against Scott drew intense backlash on social media with critics calling it a “hit piece” that ultimately did not debunk the senator’s claims.
The timing of the report also raised eyebrows since it came just 12 hours after it was announced that Scott would be delivering the Republican Party’s response to President Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28.
A spokesperson for The Washington Post told Fox News, “The Fact Checker began research on this story several weeks ago. As with all Post reporting, we publish when stories are ready.”
The Post did not immediately respond to Fox News’ inquiry when asking if the fact-check wasn’t “ready” until 3 AM Friday morning.
Regarding the fierce backlash the report received, the paper stood by the fact-check, telling Fox News, “The Fact Checker piece acknowledges that Sen. Tim Scott may not have known his full family history and that historical records regarding the lives of Black Americans are often scant. Nonetheless, our reporting adds information found in official records to Scott’s public remarks and writings about his grandfather. The Fact Checker occasionally delves into the origin stories of politicians, often without reaching a conclusion about their completeness or veracity.”
Scott’s office declined comment, saying he was focused on delivering the GOP response to Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.