WaPo fact checker backs off after Cotton correctly predicted Boston Bomber would receive COVID stimulus check

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler offered a sort of mea culpa after awarding Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark, two Pinocchios, for predicting murderers like convicted terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would receive a stimulus check COVID.

In March 2021, Kessler headlined “Murders, Undocumented Immigrants: Exaggerated Claims About Who Gets Stimulus Checks” with an image of Cotton pasted to the page, disputing claims made by him and Senator John Barrasso, R-Wy. , have made. that the $ 1,400 checks that Americans were to receive would go to those who are unqualified or unworthy of them.

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“On March 8, [Cotton] tweeted that Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would also enjoy benefits and said, “Prepare for campaign ads,” Kessler wrote at the time, quoting Cotton. “But despite all the hype, these There are fewer claims than one might imagine – especially because previous GOP-controlled stimulus bills passed last year also failed to ban payments to prisoners and the small subset. of undocumented immigrants referenced by Barrasso. “

ILE – This file photo released on April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted and sentenced to death for carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013 which left three people dead and more than 260 injured. (FBI via AP, file)
(FBI via AP, file)

Kessler noted that the stimulus bills “excluded certain people” but that the law “did not exclude payments to incarcerated persons” and that a judge ruled that the IRS “could not rewrite the law from on his own after having already made payments to people in prison. “

“But prisoner advocates say it’s all drama,” Kessler wrote before citing activists who rebuffed Cotton’s claims.

Regarding the “Pinocchio test,” Kessler previously concluded that Cotton’s and Barrasso’s remarks “lack meaningful context.”

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Cotton and Barrasso claim Democrats are actively trying to give stimulus checks to murderers and undocumented immigrants. Not only is that wrong, but both have voted for previous stimulus bills that did not narrow criteria, ”Kessler wrote. Barrasso did not resort to Cotton’s alarmism, saying more cautiously that prisoners might receive a stimulus check. But his wording on immigration was misleading, as viewers might have thought Barrasso was talking about all the illegal immigrant.”

“These two talking points are designed primarily for future campaign ads, not for serious legislation. Cotton and Barrasso win Two Pinocchio,” added the fact-checker.

Well, it turns out the Boston Bomber actually received a $ 1,400 stimulus check.

Records show Tsarnaev, who is currently serving a life sentence after murdering three people and injuring hundreds more at the 2013 Boston Marathon, has received more than $ 21,000 since his time as an inmate and among the deposits featured the COVID aid he received in June 2021. Now is an effort by federal officials in Massachusetts to collect this check for $ 1,400, among other funds the terrorist collected in prison, to be paid to the more than $ 101 million he owes to his victims.

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This forced Kessler to revisit his fact-check after receiving an email from Cotton’s press secretary, requesting an update to the 2021 article.

“We take these requests seriously and are always willing to consider a fact-check in light of new information,” Kessler wrote in the “update” released Thursday. “Cotton mainly received Two-Pinocchio’s rating because his comments lacked context… Still, Cotton’s predictive powers should be recognized. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check – and Tsarnaev did. . “

“But in retrospect, the use of the phrase ‘alarmist’ was inappropriate. Cotton had raised a legitimate question of concern, even though he had phrased it politically. The term ‘elated’ in the title went too far as well. . “, admitted Kessler. “So we’ll take that claim down to One Pinocchio – our version of ‘mostly true.’ His statement still lacks context, but he was certainly right that Tsarnaev would receive a stimulus check.”

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Kessler rebuffed a critic who claimed the fact-checker issued a “correction”, stressing “that it was an update in light of new information.”

“It’s important to let readers know if there is something new,” Kessler tweeted. “I would say that a willingness to update and, if necessary, admit mistakes improves your credibility. In fact, acknowledging mistakes is essential. [International Fact-Checking Network] principle.”

Fox News has reached out to Kessler for comment.

Earlier, Cotton had made a lap of honor on Twitter, writing, “Now that the Boston Bomber has received their stimulus check from Biden’s slush fund, I look forward to @washingtonpost to update this fact check,” adding, “Remember every Democratic senator voted against my amendment that would have prevented prisoners from obtaining checks. “

CNN on Thursday hosted Washington fact-checker Glenn Kessler to brag about his most popular fact-checks of 2021, despite Article # 1 being widely mocked.  (ERIC BARADAT / AFP via Getty Images)

CNN on Thursday hosted Washington fact-checker Glenn Kessler to brag about his most popular fact-checks of 2021, despite Article # 1 being widely mocked. (ERIC BARADAT / AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty images / Singerhmk – wiki commons)

In June, the Washington Post published a blatant correction on a 2020 report that accused Cotton of peddling a “debunked” “conspiracy theory” when he claimed the coronavirus had escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

“Earlier versions of this story and its title inaccurately characterized Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) ‘S comments regarding the origins of the coronavirus,” the correction at the top of the report reads. “The term ‘debunked’ and The Post’s use of ‘conspiracy theory’ were removed because, then as now, there was no determination as to the origins of the virus.”

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The title was changed to “Tom Cotton Keeps Repeating Coronavirus Fringe Theory Scientists Have Disputed.” “

The media is finally taking the lab leak theory seriously after the Wall Street Journal reported last year that U.S. intelligence agencies estimate at least three Wuhan scientists were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019.

Fox News’s Stephanie Pagones and Brie Stimson contributed to this report.