WaPo Fact-Checkers Now Weighing into Virginia Gubernatorial Race, and Ruling is Not Kind to Terry McAuliffe

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Posted: Jul 03, 2021 7:45 PM
WaPo Fact-Checkers Now Weighing into Virginia Gubernatorial Race, and Ruling is Not Kind to Terry McAuliffe

Source: Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

The Virginia gubernatorial race has been in the news quite a bit recently, but this week in particular, with a fact-checked ad being one such source for news. While there were some hiccups--to put it politely--with a PolitiFact fact-check feeling the need to issue a retraction and an update, overall the truth has not been kind to McAuliffe, as evidenced by another one which called him out on Friday. This time it was Adriana Usero with The Washington Post.

It's worth summarizing what happened with PolitiFact, which I've also written about more in-depth here

On Tuesday morning, PolitiFact Virginia called McAuliffe out for his 39-second ad, "Cmon, Glenn," which claimed Youngkin praised McAuliffe when he was governor, and McAuliffe's successor, Democrat Ralph Northam. 

Hours later, though, the fact-check was retracted. Why? Well, it was revealed hours after that that the fact-check reportedly violated their standards because it did not reach out to the McAuliffe campaign. 

The reason isn't entirely convincing, especially because it doesn't appear that the Youngkin campaign was consulted on other PolitiFact Virginia fact-checks.

It cannot be emphasized enough, though, that even with this retraction, the main point of the fact-check still remains the same, as evidenced by its closing: 

The bottom line: Contrary to McAuliffe’s ad assertion, Youngkin’s 2017 words do not prove he was a “big fan” of the former governor’s economic policies. But his 2019 words suggest some good things have happened in Virginia over the last eight years - although he did not credit McAuliffe or Northam.

As mentioned, Usero with The Washington Post also weighed in, writing "a review of the source video shows that the ad oversells the amount of praise Youngkin heaps on McAuliffe." 

Ultimately, Usero granted the ad "three pinocchios," even noting it served as a "good example" of such misleading ones:

Regular readers know that we are tough on campaign ads that rely on manipulated video to make their point. This ad slices and dices Youngkin’s comments to misleadingly claim that Youngkin praised McAuliffe’s tenure as governor. But instead, Youngkin was merely a moderator at a business panel, making benign comments and offering no indication he was a “big fan” of McAuliffe.

This is a good example of video we label as “missing context — isolation.” The McAuliffe campaign earns Three Pinocchios.

To once again quote Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter, who provided a statement for Townhall included in my reporting of the retracted Politifact Virginia fact-check: "Glenn Youngkin is always positive and polite, and this event 4 years ago was no exception. Terry McAuliffe can deceptively edit and dishonestly represent clips from a panel discussion, but he can’t change the fact that Virginia has lost compared to other states over the last 8 years, with more people choosing to move away from Virginia to other states than move to Virginia from other states. Instead of defending the status quo like Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin is running for governor to make Virginia the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family."

McAuliffe attacked Youngkin over Twitter moments after he was declared the nominee on May 10, following the results of a Virginia convention, even though McAuliffe had not yet won the Democratic primary. 

In contrast, Youngkin devoted a tweet to welcome McAuliffe to the race, once McAuliffe officially became his opponent, before proceeding to also tweet why he was a better choice.

Not only does this appear to be a pattern from McAuliffe's campaigning style this time around, but from 2013 as well.

McAuliffe narrowly beat Ken Cuccinelli in 2013, 47.8 to 45.2 percent. The Virginia constitution prohibits governors from serving back-to-back terms, which is why McAuliffe has had to wait until now to run again.

The race has been thought to favor Democrats, as Virginia has not elected a Republican statewide since 2009. While McAuliffe may have thought, then, that he could take this race for granted, it already looks like he's doing so at his peril. 

On June 25, the Cook Political Report changed their view of the gubernatorial race from "Likely" to "Lean Democratic." Earlier that month, Reagan reported on a poll showing that the race is a lot closer than most people would have thought, but, according to one poll, it was within the margin of error.

And it's not hard to see why.