USA TODAY factchecks the factchecker we factchecked
From the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project
The USA TODAY factchecker we profiled Tuesday, Daniel Funke, might want to find another line of work. He seems to have a problem getting his facts right.
In our story titled “Factchecking the media’s antigun factcheckers,” we showed how Funke only focuses on conservatives and conservative issues. His stories have targeted gun owners, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, Donald Trump, QAnon, election fraud, anti-vaxxers, and the NRA, while providing cover for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, mask mandates, mandatory vaccinations and Dr. Tony Fauci.
A story Funke wrote for Gannett’s flagship Wednesday, in which he tried to provide top cover for Biden’s horrific Afghan rout, exploded after gun owners and conservatives unleashed hell online.
Funke “factchecked” stories, social media accounts and even videos that all showed how Biden kept checking his watch during the dignified transfer ceremony held at Dover Air Force Base for the 11 Marines, Navy Corpsman and Army staff sergeant who were murdered by a suicide bomber outside Kabul airport.
“Biden did appear to check his watch during his visit to Dover Air Force Base. But he did so after the dignified transfer ceremony was over. Footage leading up to the moment shows Biden with his hand over his heart for about 30 seconds as vans carry the service members' remains off the tarmac. After the vans had left, Biden closes his eyes briefly before dropping his arms and glancing down at his watch,” Funke wrote.
Funke concluded the stories and videos were “partly false.”
The families of the 13 slain service members, conservative writers and thousands of folks who watched the video with their own eyes exploded in anger over Funke’s bogus, politically motivated claims.
“This scumbag who smeared Gold Star mothers has all the right ‘credentials’ and still smeared Gold Star mothers anyway,” tweeted Human Events senior editor Jack Posobiec.
“I rarely get angry, life ain’t worth it. SEETHING right now. Many of us lost friends. Imagine you lose a son or daughter, and USA Today calls you a liar. This is below scum bag behavior, it’s totally another level,” tweeted conservative author and veterans advocate Mike Cernovich. “I hope the families sue.”
Cernovich @CernovichI asked the @USATODAY fact checker if he plans to apologize to the Gold Star families he falsely accused of lying. If you know a veteran’s group, make sure they politely contact USA Today to ask why they smear Gold Star families. https://t.co/xKMLZwomNL
“Do you have any idea how harmful these lies are to our military community? You are a disgrace with zero credibility. We believe our Gold Star families and the video footage,” the veterans advocacy group Code of Vets wrote.
Because of the intense backlash, USA TODAY was forced to issue a correction for Funke’s story, which is rare for factcheckers, who are supposed to get the facts right:
Corrections & Clarifications: This story was updated Sept. 2 to note that Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself. The rating on this claim has been changed from partly false to missing context.
The newspaper also changed the headline on the story. The original headline: “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch only after ceremony,” was changed to “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch during ceremony.”
The legacy media has two standards of accuracy: one for stories involving guns, the Second Amendment and other conservative issues, and one for everything else. Gun owners have known this for years. It’s about time the rest of the country bears witness to this unethical practice too.
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