After several Gold Star parents of servicemembers slain in last month’s Kabul airport bombing claimed that President Biden checked his watch several times during a ceremony to honor them, USA Today ‘fact checker’ Daniel Funke wasted no time refuting their eyewitness accounts – essentially accusing them of lying.
“i watched you disrespect us all 5 different times by checking your watch!!!,” wrote Gold Star mother, Shana Chappell (whose Facebook and Instagram accounts were ‘incorrectly deleted’ after she posted, and have since been restored).
Another Gold Star parent, Darin Hoover, said Biden looked down at his watch 13 times.
“I actually leaned into my son’s mother’s ear and said ‘I swear to God, if he checks his watch one more time…’ I found it to be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen,” Hoover told Fox News.
Gold Star Father Mark Schmitz, whose son Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz was killed in Kabul:
“I actually leaned into my son’s mother’s ear and said ‘I swear to God, if he checks his watch one more time…’ I found it to be the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen.” pic.twitter.com/VG9BafFFzn
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) August 31, 2021
Yet, USA Today’s Funke wrote that the claims were “partly false” because Biden checked his watch “only after” the ceremony – not during.
It’s true. Joe Biden checked his watch during the dignified transfer of the servicemembers killing in Afghanistan at the airport. You can see him jerk his left hand to pull the watch out from under his sleeve, then look down at it. pic.twitter.com/M3QVzJbTIm
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) August 29, 2021
The following day, the paper issued a massive correction:
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.
In a Wednesday tweet, Funke said “I regret the error.”
As many of you already know, this story has been corrected. Biden checked his watch multiple times during the ceremony. I regret the error. https://t.co/F6bjQFYVbC
— Daniel Funke (@dpfunke) September 3, 2021
In a subsequent tweet, he said “It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.“
Clearly Funke is the victim here.
Botching a fact-check (or being straight up dishonest, more likely), then issuing a correction that is still incorrect is the hallmark of an exceptional journalist, according to Snopes editor. https://t.co/DMsA65F4Rj
— Doug Powers (@ThePowersThatBe) September 4, 2021
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.
— Code of Vets ™ (@codeofvets) September 3, 2021
“Missing context” is the fact-checker euphemism for “this claim is correct but we don’t want anyone screencapping this as ammo.”
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) September 3, 2021
(h/t Jim Treacher)