Half True?? WashPost ‘Fact Checker’ Goes Soft on Hillary, Tim Kaine on ‘Silencers’

October 4th, 2017 1:09 PM

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker,”demonstrated again on Wednesday how elastic their “factual” standards are, depending on whose facts are being checked. Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary’s 2016 running mate – and indirectly, Hillary herself – was evaluated for suggesting silencers inhibit police work against gun-toting criminals.

Kaine said this to the Post in an interview about Las Vegas mass murderer Steven Paddock on Monday:

“He was only stopped finally because he did not have a silencer on his weapon. And the sound drew people to the place where he was ultimately stopped. Can you imagine what this would have been if he had silencers on these weapons?”

Kessler noted this sounded a bit like what Hillary Clinton tweeted: “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.” 

Kessler insisted: “As we have explained before, that’s a movie myth. But Kaine’s staff says he knows this.”

Notice Kessler didn't single out Hillary and give her Four Pinocchios, but he lets Kaine aides beg for mercy. Kessler’s final Pinocchio score – everyone’s shorthand for how badly a politician mangled the facts – was only Two Pinocchios, or Half True. Kaine’s staff clearly swayed the verdict. Here’s Kessler’s definition for Two Pinocchios:

Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to “half true.”)

Kessler surely thinks he’s being rough on Kaine (and Hillary) by stating the facts about “silencers,” which are badly misnamed. But choosing for Kaine the “factual error may be involved but not necessarily” category needs a Weasel Checker rating. The facts make the Dems look incredibly misleading at best: 

First of all, there are relatively few reports of suppressors being used in crimes. In 2015, 125 suppressors were recovered from crime scenes where a trace was requested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) — when nearly 265,000 pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns were recovered....

Second, firearms — even with suppressors — generally are very loud.

A suppressor generally will reduce the sound of a weapon by an average 3o decibels, about the level of ear protection.

Hearing damage begins to occur at about 85 decibels, which is the sound of a hairdryer. Various reports have indicated that the Las Vegas shooter had AR-15-type rifles. A 30-decibel reduction means an AR-15 rifle would have a noise equivalent of 132 decibels. That is considered equivalent to a gunshot or a jackhammer. A .22-caliber pistol would be 116 decibels, which is louder than a 100-watt car stereo. In all likelihood, the noise level is actually higher.

It’s certainly not like the “whoosh” in the movies.

Suppressors, by diffusing the noise of a weapon, may make it more difficult to locate the source of a sound, which is why they often are used by military snipers. Kaine’s staff insists that, despite our initial impression of his statement, he is talking about this aspect of silencers.

Then we’re told of Kaine aides working over the Fact cops:

Kaine’s staff, citing the raw audio of police communications that night, compiled an extensive timeline to demonstrate that the gunshots led the police to Paddock’s room. For instance, one police officer said: “I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor, I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”

Kaine staff also noted the story of a guest two floors below who reported the sounds of weapons fire. “I could just hear the gun shots. Continuously. Just full automatic,” said Chris Bethel, an Iraq War veteran. “There’s explosions going off. It was like, a bomb just went off, man. And then there were more gun shots.”

But given that AK-15 rifles, even with suppressors, are as loud as jackhammers, this does not demonstrate that the gunman was “only stopped” because he did not have a suppressor, as Kaine asserted.

Kessler lectured “Kaine should be more careful when talking about weapons, especially during a national tragedy. We will accept his staff’s explanation that he meant that silencers muffled a gunshot’s direction, even though his phrasing certainly sounded like he meant that silencers actually made firearms quiet. Regular readers know we don’t try to play gotcha here at The Fact Checker.”

Going soft on the Democrats – and all Four Pinocchios on the Republicans – is a fact of Fact Checker practice. Then they use that to suggest the Democrats are just more honest. Kessler told CNN in 2016 "Trump earned significant more four-Pinocchio ratings than Clinton -- 59 to 7,” and "The numbers don't lie."

When you count up the claims receiving a “4 Pinocchios” rating for obvious lies since January 20, there are 43 of these Liar ratings for Republicans (27 just for Trump), and only four for Democrats. A Democrat calling up The Washington Post knows they can knock the rating down a "nose" or two. 

It's also true that liberal "fact checkers" rely on tips from their audience, and whose audience is full of Democrats? The Washington Post. They flag Republicans for evaluation substantially more than Democrats. The Fact Cops are ideological profilers. 

In the same time period, PolitiFact has flagged Republicans with 30 "Pants on Fire" liar ratings, to only four for Democrats. 

PS: In a 2014 interview with C-SPAN, Kessler the Fact Checker also proclaimed liberal bias was a myth, and not a fact: “Democrats tend to get a little more upset because I think they have bought into the myth of the liberal media, and they kind think that the media is on their side whereas Republicans, they firmly believe in the myth of the liberal media.”