USA Today’s fact-checkers need a fact-checker.
USA Today’s Daniel Funke, the reporter behind the newspaper’s botched report on President Biden’s watch fiasco has been hammered by critics on social media for playing “the victim.”
Funke originally reported in a “fact-check” Wednesday that accounts of President Biden checking his watch during the solemn transfer ceremony honoring the 13 U.S. service members killed at the Kabul airport terrorist attack was “partly false.” Funke insisted that it occurred “only after” the ceremony.
But the next day USA Today issued a correction admitting Biden checked his watch “multiple times” during the ceremony, as The Post accurately reported on its front page. However it changed its ruling from “partly false” to “missing context.”
Funke then took to Twitter on Friday offering an apology — of sorts.
“As many of you already know, this story has been corrected. Biden checked his watch multiple times during the ceremony. I regret the error,” Funke wrote. “Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right.”
After sharing a link to USA Today’s fact-checking guidelines explaining the “principles we try to uphold,” Funke wrote, “It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.”
Some gave Funke credit for his mea culpa. But others suggested it was another liberal-media attempt to protect Biden.
“With all due respect, Mr. Funke, your ‘fact check’ carried a direct implication that grieving, gold star families had LIED with their first-hand testimony of the events. Keep your ‘we regret the error’ and apologize, unequivocally, directly TO THEM,” radio host Larry O’Connor told Funke.
“I’d have more sympathy if the ‘fact checking industry’ hadn’t viewed the Afghanistan crisis as a time to protect Biden instead of fact-checking the admin’s lies and obfuscation. We have unknown numbers of Americans stranded and they’re focused on conservative social posts,” GOP strategist Matt Whitlock tweeted.
“Daniel figured out who the true victim is in the saga of the ISIS-K suicide bombing of U.S. service members,” Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy quipped.
“You didn’t get something wrong. You purposefully and willfully fact checked Gold Star families instead of the President. You did exactly what you think you’re paid to do, which is protect Jos Biden and his party,” Spectator contributor Stephen Miller tweeted.
Said Gannett, USA Today’s parent company, in a statement about the fiasco: “We corrected the fact check story as soon as we realized it was erroneous and were fully transparent about the inaccuracies. Our mission is to report the facts as accurately as possible with no political agenda.”