After issuing its rating of “four Pinocchios” in response to various statements by conservative politicians, the Washington Post has recently deemed a claim by President Joe Biden to warrant the dreaded fact-check rating.
Taking a break from overwhelmingly positive journalistic takes on the Biden administration, the surprising rebuke came this week in response to a remark regarding the ramifications of Georgia’s recently enacted election reform law.
Biden insisted that the new restrictions would require voting to end at 5 p.m., barring many workers from access to the polls — but the Post determined that his assertion was flat-out wrong.
The president was vehement in his remarks last week, calling the new state restrictions “Jim Crow for the 21st century, claiming at least twice that the law would prevent many Georgians from voting by closing polling places early.
“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is,” Biden claimed. “It’s sick. It’s sick. Deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work.”
Prior to the recent changes, Georgia polls were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. The new law not only kept those hours in place but actually expanded availability for early voting days.
When the Post contacted several election-law experts, they confirmed that they had no idea what the president was referencing in his complaint.
“I don’t think you can criticize it”
“You can criticize the bill for many things, but I don’t think you can criticize it for reducing the hours you can vote,” said University of Georgia political scientist Charles S. Bullock III.
The Post concluded that Biden was likely confused by a change in the law that states early voting ends at 5 p.m., but even that represents the earliest deadline. Individual counties can still implement the entire 12-hour voting window if they choose to do so.
Even if that generous interpretation were true, Biden would have had to misconstrue the change as substantively meaningful by not knowing that voting is still possible after 5 p.m. in addition to conflating early voting deadlines with those on Election Day.
The other alternative, of course, is that the president simply told a lie.
For its part, the Post bucked its own trend by criticizing, however mildly, the current administration. Its friendly coverage of this White House is sure to return in the tradition of headlines like: “Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty in defining move of presidency.”