Candor dies in “updates”

If Roger Kimball were asking readers to note Paul Sperry’s classic demolition of Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post itself, there is a good chance he would quote Juvenal’s famous query from Satires VI: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (“Who is to guard the guardians?”) and offer a learned disquisition on it. Perhaps the quote has become sufficiently well known that no disquisition is necessary. It speaks for itself.

Kessler and the Post purport to be guardians of the truth, but they are partisan frauds. We know that. Sperry takes Kessler’s October 2020 fact-check as a devastating case study: “Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop: An explainer.” Even the headline is a groaner.

Sperry’s demolition is relentless. The headline of his RealClearInvestigations column exceeds the Post’s in accuracy and wit: “For Washington Post’s Feared ‘Pinocchio’ Fact Checker, Forthrightness Dies in ‘Updates’ to Biden-Burisma Story.”

I love this paragraph (Baird is Washington Post spokesman Kathy Baird):

Baird declined to answer whether the Post’s designated fact-checker was too trusting of his Biden sources. Though documented evidence was available at the time, Kessler took the word of Biden’s aides over contemporaneous emails and texts contradicting what they told him. Most facts were always there. It was only when the facts were amplified by government hearings, reports and depositions, as well as other news sites and Twitter, that Kessler revised his analysis – while still resisting calling his revisions “corrections.”

Miranda Devine commented on Sperry’s demolition at the end of her New York Post newsletter yesterday:

The Washington Post’s resident “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler, who has been carrying Joe Biden’s water and trying unsuccessfully to pooh-pooh our reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop from day one, has had to issue SIX humiliating corrections – which he calls “updates” – across his “fact-checks” about the April 2015 dinner at Cafe Milano where Hunter introduced his dad, then VP Joe Biden, to his Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakh benefactors.

As Real Clear investigations reports, Kessler was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi award for fact checks in 2022 about Hunter Biden. The Society of Professional Journalists said Kessler gave “a very detailed, balanced analysis of a complicated and horrifically convoluted story that spawned a thousand rumors and falsehoods.”

What a joke. Says it all about the state of journalism today.

As Juvenal puts it in Satires I: “Difficile est saturam non scribere” (“It’s hard not to write satire”). In this case, in Sperry’s account, reality writes the satire.

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