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Tipsheet

Now That Tom Cotton Was Proven Right, WaPo Issues Correction to Fact Check About Him

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

The Washington Post updated a March 9 fact check on comments Sen. Tom Cotton made predicting that murderers would be receiving stimulus checks as part of the Democrats’ Covid relief bill. 

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Specifically, Cotton named church shooter Dylann Roof and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler gave the senator two Pinocchios for such claims in an article titled, "Murderers, undocumented immigrants: Hyped-up claims about who’s getting stimulus checks." He ultimately concluded that Cotton and Sen. John Barrasso’s claims “lack significant context.”  

Cotton and Barrasso claim Democrats are actively trying to give stimulus checks to murderers and undocumented immigrants. Not only is that wrong, but both voted for previous stimulus bills that did not have narrowed criteria. The goal was to get checks out as quickly as possible without burdensome regulations. It’s hard to craft rules that target mass murderers without also penalizing the families of people in prison for much less heinous crimes. (WaPo)

This week, however, Tsarnaev was in the headlines for exactly what Cotton predicted: receiving a $1,400 Covid relief payment. 

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Reacting to the news, Cotton said he looked forward to seeing an update to the Post’s fact check. 

Cotton’s press secretary, James Arnold, reached out to the paper seeking an update. Kessler obliged, though he kept one Pinocchio--the Post's version of "mostly true."

We take such requests seriously and are always willing to review a fact check in light of new information.

Cotton primarily received the Two-Pinocchio rating because his comments lacked context. He suggested this problem was the result of something Democrats did, when he had previously voted for legislation with the same language that allowed for checks to be issued to prisoners. He also made it clear that he intended weaponize this debate for campaign ads.

Still, Cotton’s predictive powers should be acknowledged. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check — and Tsarnaev did. Now, if the government is successful, this money will go to victims. So Tsarnaev still will not keep it. But in retrospect, the use of the phrase of “scaremongering” was inappropriate. Cotton had raised a legitimate issue of concern, even if he framed it in a political way. The term “hyped up” in the headline went too far as well.

Thus, we will reduce the rating on this claim to One Pinocchio — our version of “mostly true.” His statement still lacks some context but he was certainly correct that Tsarnaev would receive a stimulus check. (WaPo)

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As my colleagues over at Hot Air reminded, this isn't the first time the Post had to update a story and headline targeting Cotton. In June, edits were made to the February piece, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”

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