Kessler the Opinion Checker Throws Pinocchios at Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson on Hunter & Ukraine

February 2nd, 2023 12:22 PM

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler runs their shop called “The Fact Checker.” But often, they’re just expressing hostilities – and tossing the Pinocchios – at Republican opinions they don't like. They should just be honest and call themselves “The Opinion Checker.” 

Kessler’s latest attack is a “Three Pinocchios” analysis of Senators Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz for their opinion that a 2014 Hunter Biden email sounds sophisticated enough to suggest he was getting a Ukraine briefing from his vice-president dad or affiliated staffers. Kessler implies that’s basically lying Pinocchio-land: 

For nine years [2002-2010], The Fact Checker was diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post. I’ve seen my share of backgrounders, State Department cables and even the odd classified document. Far from being especially sophisticated, Hunter Biden’s email appears to be largely the product of diligent reading of recent newspaper and magazine articles.

So it’s opinion vs. opinion. Not fact versus falsehood. 

Then Kessler’s guesswork gets a long workout: “Let’s take a tour through the first 11 of 22 enumerated points in the email and see if the main facts in them could be found in news reports of the time.” That’s NOT a fact check.  

Kessler wrote about his demands to the Republicans: "The Fact Checker requested that Cruz and Johnson provide specific examples in the email that they believed to be classified information. Instead, they issued statements saying they were simply asking questions."

This is apparently a “Pinocchio” activity, to ask questions about what kind of “business relationship” Hunter Biden had with his father. Kessler included this response: 

Corinne Day, Johnson’s deputy communications director, issued a lengthy statement calling The Fact Checker inquiry “a prime example of the mainstream media providing cover for the Biden family” and suggesting that questions instead should be aimed at the Bidens

Fact check: True. At a time when Republicans are pressing for answers on the Biden family's lobbying business, Kessler's Opinion Checker is suggesting it's distasteful to speculate if The Washington Post didn't speculate endlessly on the Trump family's foreign connections. Or it's distasteful to point out Kessler ran interference for the Bidens evading taxes.

Kessler's "Pinocchio Test" conclusion was a classic of the opinion-checking genre:

This is a good example of how innuendo and suspicion can cause people to leap to conclusions without checking facts. Hunter Biden’s email has been described, but it has not been examined.

We’re fairly confident that Hunter Biden assembled this material by reading news reports and checking with contacts like Kaufman, rather than getting a special briefing from the State Department or others in the administration. Obviously, if information emerges that changes our understanding of how this email was crafted, we will update this fact check. But for now, Cruz and Johnson earn Three Pinocchios. They have not presented evidence to dispute our conclusions.

So you get "Pinocchios" until Kessler is "fairly confident" his "conclusions" can be debunked. One can also check out Cruz spokesman Steve Guest on Twitter (and read the thread):