Establishment Media Retracts Damning Fact Check on Terry McAuliffe, Provides No Real Explanation

MCLEAN, VA - JUNE 8: Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) arrives to speak during an election night event after winning the Democratic primary for governor on June 8, 2021 in McLean, Virginia. McAuliffe will face Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in the state's general election this fall. McAuliffe previously served …
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An establishment media outlet retracted a damning PolitiFact fact check that deemed a Terry McAuliffe campaign ad — which asserts Virginia gubernatorial Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin was a “big fan” of the former governor’s leadership — as misleading without providing a sufficient explanation.

PolitiFact this week fact-checked a campaign ad by the Terry McAuliffe campaign, concluding the ad “misleadingly” claimed Youngkin praised the former Democrat’s economic leadership while moderating a 2017 discussion at a U.S. Export-Import Bank conference. McAuliffe, who was governor of Virginia at the time, served as a panelist.

Here, we have one out of fifty states that’s doing very well, and particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Youngkin says in the ad. It also featured him saying, “Governor, I’m going to come back to the role you played in developing Virginia’s economy. How do you do it?”

Overall, the ad attempts to make it look as though the Republican challenger once praised McAuliffe’s leadership.

PolitFact noted the ad both “edits and alters Youngkin’s sentences and, in instances, presents them out of context”:

“Here we have one out of fifty states that’s doing very well, and particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Youngkin was not offering his personal opinion here; he was summarizing remarks made by his four-member panel (which, again, included McAuliffe). Here’s Youngkin’s full quote:

“What we’ve said, just to summarize a little bit, is while not 100% agreeing that we’re in a full recovery, I think there’s a general sense of the US economy doing okay, and particularly in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Here we have one out of 50 states that’s doing very well and has really shown great strides.”

PolitiFact also noted the ad cut “critical” words from his inquiry on the former governor’s role in developing Virginia’s economy.

“Youngkin was simply asking McAuliffe to explain how he goes about recruiting foreign businesses to Virginia,” the outlet wrote, providing the full quote, which was as follows:

Governor, I’m going to come back to the role you’ve played in developing Virginia’s economy. I just want to head off and have a little bit of a practice session with you. How do you do it? Here you sit as a governor, and you’ve got a state that has gone through some economic turmoil. How do you plan where to go? How do you pick the companies you’re working with and the sectors?

PolitiFact also stressed the importance of Youngkin’s role as a moderator, not a challenger.

“If Youngkin had problems with McAuliffe’s economic policies in 2017, this seminar may not have an appropriate place to air them,” it wrote, concluding that Youngkin’s 2017 words “do not prove he was a ‘big fan’ of the former governor’s economic policies, or that his current criticism of McAuliffe’s stewardship is a flip flop.”

However, VMP, which touts itself as “Virginia’s home for public media,” announced on Tuesday that it retracted the PolitiFact piece but failed to provide a sufficient explanation as to why, citing a “substantial omission in our reporting.”

“We’ve retracted a politifact piece on a McAuliffe campaign ad due to a substantial omission in our reporting,” VPM said. “We apologize for our error and will publish a retraction notice on the VPM site.”

“Terry McAuliffe’s cronies in the media will try to whitewash his lies. Nothing @myvpm will say can change what they wrote this AM, that ‘the ad edits and alters Youngkin’s [comments] and…presents them out of context,'” the Virginia GOP said following the retraction:

“Not everyday you see a retraction on a fact-check,” Mercury Virginia reporter Graham Moomaw observed. “Curious what happened here”:

Democrat critics of the original PolitiFact seem to point to a Business Insider article, which touts the fake news that the Virginia governor “once praised the Democrats on economic policy. GOP operatives note that the article continues to take Youngkin’s quotes out of context:

In an interview with McKinsey & Company, the businessman noted that the state — then under the leadership of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam — had a “high-growth tech industry, a growing healthcare sector, and an established manufacturing presence.” Northam served as Virginia lieutenant governor under McAuliffe before winning election himself to lead the state in 2017.

Back in 2019, when Virginia Tech announced it was building an innovation campus in Northern Virginia, Youngkin was equally enthused.

“What’s happening in Northern Virginia is truly transformational, and Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus will be right at the heart of it,” Youngkin said in a press release at the time. “Think of the possibilities — new technologies, new businesses, new markets, extraordinary new talent — all being created right here in Northern Virginia. And now, the scope of this ambition can be fully matched by this great location, which will be the home of the next global technology hub.”

The McKinsey portion of the article, particularly, cuts the quote off after the word “presence,” serving as one example of journalistic malfeasance.

Democrats, however, are now glomming onto the retraction.

“Despite Glenn Youngkin and his team’s failed attempts, they cannot make his past comments disappear,” the VA Dems said in a Tuesday, statement citing the Business Insider article, claiming the facts “remain clear” and falsely asserting Youngkin “effusively praised Terry McAuliffe’s strong economic record.”

It still remains unclear what, specifically, led to VPM’s retraction, as none of PolitiFact’s notes were debunked.

“Terry McAuliffe has now been caught lying to voters three times in the last three weeks, but he has not been asked about it once in the approximately 30 interviews he’s done in Virginia since he started repeating the lie,” Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Rich Anderson said in a statement following PolitiFact’s fact check.

“It’s time for members of the Virginia media to do their job and hold Terry McAuliffe accountable for the repeated lies he’s been telling to Virginia voters,” he added.

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