Washington Post “fact checker” Glenn Kessler drew a lot of fire for digging deeply into the family history of Sen. Tim Scott to suggest his life story was exaggerated. On Sunday night’s All Things Considered, NPR weekend host Michel Martin devoted more than eight minutes of air time to letting Kessler defend himself, as liberal journalists stick up for liberal journalists and dismiss criticism as misplaced.
The NPR.org headline was “Journalist Digs Into Sen. Tim Scott’s ‘Tidy’ Origin Story After Comments On Racism.” Martin even said Kessler probed Scott’s “so-called origin story.”
This was the most pointed mention of Kessler’s critics, but Martin quickly added her befuddlement:
MARTIN: The former South Carolina governor, the former U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, called the piece shameful. She said on Twitter, when minorities refuse to be victims, disagree with liberal talking points and think for ourselves, the media shames us and questions our credibility. But Bakari Sellers, a Democrat, a former South Carolina legislator — and many people probably see him as a political commentator on CNN — also tweeted, you know, who thought this was a good idea?
What do you make of that? Like, why would that be considered shocking or shameful or, you know, upsetting? I mean, these genealogy shows, which are quite popular, often do the very same thing, and people find things out that they did not know.
Martin couldn’t grasp our point that the Washington Post didn’t have the same level of interest in fact-checking the life story of Barack Obama, as we’ve long pointed out. Kessler drew criticism from both parties, but he shamelessly told NPR listeners it’s “just politics.”
Well, you know, I think a lot of this is just politics. I mean, the word racist, which appeared in a number of right-wing publications, it seems to be intended to make a reporter think twice about conducting a detailed examination of Senator Scott or his background. We investigate the backgrounds of white politicians all the time. And certainly someone who is a potential candidate for president or vice president should expect a high degree of scrutiny.
Whoa, wait: Did Tim Scott announce he was a potential candidate for president? Here again, Martin failed to consider how soft Kessler has gone on Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton when they were clearly running for president. He was so soft on the Biden campaign he ran a story headlined “Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop.” Martin didn’t ask about Kessler’s team quitting any attempt to keep a database on Biden’s false or misleading statements.
Kessler’s excuse about how “potential candidates” for national office should expect a “high degree of scrutiny” should force journalists to ask whether the scrutiny is actually equally applied. Are all potential candidates held equally accountable? Of course not. Kessler is Exhibit A.