September 23, 2023

House Republicans are demanding answers from the Poynter Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent “fact checkers,” about President Joe Biden’s definition of a “recession,” according to a letter obtained exclusively by Breitbart News.

Although a standard definition of a recession is two consecutive fiscal quarters of negative GDP growth, Biden argued that the term should not apply to the current US economy.

In a White House blog post last week, the Biden administration offered a new “holistic” definition of a recession.

The White House He wrote:

What is recession? While some argue that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor how economists assess the state of the business cycle.

Instead, both official determinations of a recession and economists’ assessment of economic activity are based on a holistic look at the data—including the labor market, consumer and business spending, industrial production, and incomes.

After Biden determined that the country was not in recession by his preferred definition, fact-checking websites ran with Biden’s statement and began “fact-checking” those using the traditional two-quarters definition of negative growth.

PolitiFact, which has a fact-checking partnership with Facebook and Instagram parent Meta, It was rated the claim that Biden changed the definition of the recession as “false” and flagged publications that labeled it as “false” or “misinformation.”

In a letter At PolitiFact’s parent company, the Poynter Institute, House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), demanded answers about how the company conducts its fact-checking. and whether he has colluded with the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden speaks at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC, Thursday, July 28, 2022. The drumbeat of recession grew louder after the U.S. economy contracted for a second straight quarter as decades-high inflation eroded consumer spending. spending and the Federal Reserve rate hikes hampered business and housing. (Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

House Republicans he argued“it is important that Poynter is transparent and accountable in its process and addresses any potential conflicts of interest.”

The letter pointed to other examples of “fact checking” stories from social media sites as false that eventually turned out to be true. For example, they pointed out that social networking sites banned it New York Post and labeled his report on Hunter Biden’s laptop as “Russian disinformation,” despite having no evidence to support their false labels.

The letter he also pointed to reports earlier this year that the Biden administration was using federal funds to buy chips for “safe smoking kits,” which were labeled false by those auditors despite turning out to be true.

“Most recently, PolitiFact incorrectly labeled third-party content challenging the Biden administration’s definition of the recession as ‘fake information,'” the letter said.

McMorris Rogers in fact famous that former President Bill Clinton (D) defined a recession by the traditional definition of two consecutive quarters.

The letter argued that PolitiFact’s actions run counter to Poynter’s core principles, which state that “nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful tool in accountability journalism.”

“Our country is built on the battle of ideas and a vigorous debate about the state of our nation,” the letter said. “Holding our government to account through fact-based journalism, including challenging the White House’s claims, is fundamental to our democracy.”

The letter to be continued:

However, fact-checkers weighing down the active debate by labeling views opposed to the Biden administration or that would be actively harmful to Democratic electoral goals as “fake information” blindly accept the administration’s claims as truth and damage the credibility of any dissenting voices.

Not only does this appear to violate Poynter’s core principles, it creates an echo chamber of misleading information among participants in active dialogue, the opposite of the stated purpose of Poynter and the data controllers.

The letter sought answers from the Poynter Institute about who develops its fact-checking standards, how its fact-checkers are certified, and whether any of its fact-checkers have contacted the Biden administration about the updated definition of recession.

House Republicans too pressed Poynter Instate to provide the definition of disinformation and whether users have the ability to challenge the accreditation of a data controller if they flag inaccurate content.

In addition to Rep. McMorris Rodgers, Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Robert Latta (R-OH), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), David McKinley (R-WV), H. Morgan Griffith (R-VA ) , and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) signed the letter.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him Twitter.

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