PolitiFact ignores law, calls immigration claims about Sen. Kelly ‘false’
Chris Field: The idea behind fact checks is to keep the media and elected officials accountable.
Over the last several years, fact-checking has grown into an industry with power to sway news coverage, elections, and policy debates, and to impact a company’s financial well-being.
With the growth of these fact-checking outlets have come accusations of bias and instances of infamous failures.
Who can forget:
Barack Obama: “If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance.”
Field: Politifact repeatedly defended President Barack Obama’s claims about health care plans, and then turned around and declared his statement to be the “lie of the year.”
Hillary Clinton’s claims about her private email had fact checkers jumping to her defense —
Hillary Clinton: “I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.”
Field: — only to later recant and label the claims “false.”
And early reports of the coronavirus lab-leak theory were dinged by fact-checkers who later admitted the theory was viable.
Many of these same fact-checkers now have deals with social media companies that allow them to severely limit and even halt the reach and monetization of people and businesses they might ideologically oppose.
People want to know: Who checks the fact checkers?
Welcome to Fact Check Check™.
A recent ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee went after Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly on the issues of immigration and border enforcement. Included in the ad was a statement that the senator “voted … for benefits to illegals.”
Republican ad: “He voted for sanctuary cities, for benefits to illegals and against a border wall.”
Field: Fact-checking outlet PolitiFact declared the ad’s claim to be “false,” but is that accurate?
That’s the subject of this edition of Fact Check Check™.
PolitiFact issued its ruling by discounting two votes Kelly cast that were specifically cited in the NRSC ad, calling them “inconsequential” and “symbolic” while also ignoring current U.S. law.
The first was Kelly’s vote that stripped a provision from the budget that was designed to prohibit bills that would give stimulus checks to illegal aliens.
The second was Kelly’s vote to kill an amendment by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to the 2021 Covid stimulus bill. The Cruz amendment would have prohibited “any alien who is not lawfully present” in the United State from getting any of the relief funds.
PolitiFact declared Cruz’s amendment was merely “symbolic,” claiming the bill already did what the Cruz amendment would do because the legislation required Social Security numbers for all benefit recipients.
According to the outlet, “none of Kelly’s votes on the issue made it possible for immigrants who were in the country illegally to become eligible for the stimulus checks.”
But that’s not the truth.
There are millions of immigrants who have overstayed their visas — meaning they are in country illegally and have valid Social Security numbers that were assigned when they worked in the U.S. Those Social Security numbers will never be voided or rescinded and made it possible for them to obtain stimulus checks.
A fact PolitiFact chose to ignore.
The Congressional Research Service has published multiple reports documenting that illegal aliens have been able to use their valid Social Security numbers to claim refundable tax credits and covid stimulus checks.
Other fact-checkers have been honest about this issue.
CNN published a fact check on the topic more than a year ago, saying it was true that undocumented immigrants would get stimulus checks — as they had before.
And Newsweek actually changed its ruling on the Cruz amendment from “mostly false” to “true” once it was forced to admit that visa-overstayers are, in fact, in the country illegally, and that millions of them would receive benefits.
Our ruling on this fact check:
Sen. Kelly’s votes killed amendments designed to keep undocumented immigrants from obtaining stimulus checks.
PolitiFact ignored current law in order to rule against the NRSC’s claim.
Willful ignorance of the law is no defense, and PolitiFact’s “false” ruling is indefensible.