AP Fact Check Hits Trump, Not Tester on False Ronny Jackson Charges

May 1st, 2018 5:34 PM

The determination of AP’s Fact Check cops to pull over Donald Trump and not his enemies came through in an article on the withdrawn nomination of Adm. Ronny Jackson to run the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson withdrew even though his critics lacked any evidence to match allegations of drunk driving.

The Fact Check headline wasn’t centered on the unsubstantiated allegations against Jackson. It asserted “Trump’s rhetoric misleading on VA issues.” Trump needed to be corrected when he claimed the Democrats smeared Jackson.

If facts were paramount the headline should have been something like "Tester's fact-challenged personnel file on Jackson." AP’s Hope Yen came to Sen. Jon Tester's defense and insisted the rumors were bipartisan:

TRUMP: “Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false. The Secret Service is unable to confirm (in fact they deny) any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family.” — tweet Saturday afternoon.

TRUMP: “What Jon Tester did to this man is a disgrace. ... He’s a great, great guy... and he started studying and then he started getting hit with vicious rumors — vicious. And the Secret Service told me just coming in, ‘Sir, we checked out all of those things. Sir, they’re not true.’” — rally Saturday night in Washington Township, Michigan.

THE FACTS: It’s inaccurate for Trump to characterize the allegations against Jackson as “Democrat” or to suggest that Jackson’s nomination failed entirely because of them. The allegations, which centered on a “pattern” of loosely prescribing drugs, drunken behavior on the job and a “toxic” work environment, were based on interviews with more than 20 military personnel, according to Tester. The time period covered Jackson’s tenure as a White House physician dating to 2006 and involved colleagues who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations....

Tester’s staff compiled a summary of the allegations and released it last Wednesday with the support of [GOP Sen. Johnny] Isakson, the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Isakson earlier had called the allegations “serious” in his decision to postpone Jackson’s Wednesday hearing.

Yen's fact check included the obvious point that "On Friday, The Associated Press reviewed internal records from the White House, including police reports, that show Jackson had three minor incidents in government vehicles during the past five years, but none involved the use of alcohol, and he was not found to be at fault."

But Trump remained the fact-check target: "As to Trump’s claim that the Secret Service 'checked out all of those things' and said they were untrue, it’s not clear if he was referring to the full allegations or just the purported car crash."

Fact-checkers bring out those "not clear" lines when they want to cast doubt on Trump and defend his critics. Tester is defended, not reprimanded.

Likewise, PolitiFact has zero fact checks on Sen. Tester, who was elected in 2006.

We have rated this "fact-check" by AP Fact Check as Kind of True. The facts aren't incorrect, but they are stacked to defend Adm. Jackson's detractors. For similar analyses, please visit our Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers site.