Fact Check: CNN Refuses to Air 'False' Anti-Biden Ad, Even Though It's Accurate

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Posted: Oct 29, 2020 1:20 PM
Fact Check: CNN Refuses to Air 'False' Anti-Biden Ad, Even Though It's Accurate

Source: AP Photo/Ron Harris

This analysis dovetails with my post this morning regarding some news media outlets moving more explicitly and aggressively toward censoring and suppressing information they deem unhelpful to their preferred political outcomes. CNN's editorial position on President Trump is not subtle. They loathe him and want him gone, even though some of their opinion hosts may feel lost without him. The network is now refusing to air an anti-Biden ad from a pro-Trump organization, declining to run it on the grounds that it's been judged factually false. Here's the ad:

One can make the case that some of the language is harsh or debatable. Has Biden "coddled" Communist China? You can argue that goes too far, or you can cite some of his words and actions and say it's tough but fair.  Watch this video, which Trump has been playing at rallies. The same applies to "siding with Socialists." Biden ran his primary campaign against Socialism, but has made common cause with the radical Left's wing of his party on various policy documents and coalitions. This is the sort of subjective language that can be criticized or disputed, but it's not empirically inaccurate. Relatedly, in a letter to CNN's parent company protesting the ad's suppression, an attorney for America First Action pointed to "a recent episode of 'Reliable Sources' on CNN in which host Brian Stelter and guest Jason Stanley 'engaged in a lengthy discussion comparing President Trump to a fascist leader and ‘Trumpism’ to fascism.'" Apparently, exploring Trumpism's supposed parallels with fascism falls within CNN's editorial standards, but tossing around "Socialism" too casually in an attack ad is unacceptable.

The most problematic allegedly "false" element of the spot, however, was its assertion that Joe Biden would raise taxes on the middle class: “Specifically, the ad asserts that Biden will raise taxes on the middle class. That claim is not adequately substantiated and has been judged false by independent fact-checkers," a Warner executive wrote. It's true that Joe Biden has repeatedly promised that he won't raise taxes on any household making less than $400,000 per year. In fact, this pledge is featured in a Biden ad that has been running frequently on national television, accusing Trump of lying about this plan. The problem is, Biden saying something doesn't make it true -- and "fact-checkers" declaring something false doesn't necessarily make it false, either. We've written about this before, on several occasions.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have each vowed to repeal the Republican tax cuts, which benefitted the overwhelming majority of Americans, across all income groups. Their campaign claims this repeal would somehow be targeted to not affect the non-rich, but the candidates rarely make this distinction when touting their goal of wiping out the tax law -- an action that unambiguously would hike taxes across the board. Perhaps more significantly, nonpartisan scorekeepers have examined Biden's tax plan and have unanimously concluded that it would raise, on average, the tax burdens of Americans in every income group:

Left-leaning Tax Policy Center: "The proposals would increase taxes on average on all income groups, but the highest-income households would see substantially larger increases."

Right-leaning American Enterprise Institute: "Biden’s proposals would increase taxes, on average, for households at every income level."

Centrist Tax Foundation: "Taxpayers in the top 1 percent would see their after-tax incomes reduced by around 13.0 percent due to higher taxes on income above $400,000. However, taxpayers in other income quintiles would also see a reduction in their after-tax income."

A Wharton study also confirmed that the vast majority of Americans' tax burdens would increase under the Biden plan. As for economic impacts and job losses, the Tax Foundation determined that "Biden’s tax plan would reduce the economy’s size by 1.51 percent in the long run. The plan would shrink the capital stock by 3.23 percent and reduce the overall wage rate by 0.98 percent, leading to 585,000 fewer full-time equivalent jobs." You can say that Biden's proposed tax hikes would disproportionately impact the wealthiest Americans. You can make the case that tax increases for other Americans would be relatively small. You cannot claim that nobody making less than $400,000 would see their taxes go up. That's simply untrue, according to numerous apolitical analyses of Biden's own official plan. And yet CNN's parent company has determined this factually-accurate (or at the very least, eminently factually-supportable) political criticism of Biden is unfit for air. A dangerous, politically-driven overcorrection. I'll leave you with this: