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House GOP urges fact checkers on Biden’s definition of ‘recession’

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

Although a standard definition of an economic recession is two consecutive fiscal quarters with 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 an economic recession.

The White House wrote:

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

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

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

PolitiFact, which has a fact-checking partnership with Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta, called the claim that Biden changed the definition of recession “false” and labeled posts that pointed it out as ” false” or “disinformation”.

In a letter to PolitiFact’s parent company, the Poynter Institute, House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), demanded answers on how the company conducts its fact-checking and whether it is colluding 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 intensified after the U.S. economy contracted for a second straight quarter, as decades-high inflation undermined consumer spending and the federal government. Increases in reserve interest rates have dampened business and housing. (Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

House Republicans argued that “it is critical that Poynter be transparent and accountable in its process and address any potential conflicts of interest.”

The letter pointed to other examples of “fact-checking” stories from social media sites as fake that ultimately turned out to be true. For example, they pointed out that social media websites prohibit New York Post and called his reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop “Russian disinformation”, although there is no evidence to back up their false labels.

The letter also pointed to reports earlier in the year that the Biden administration was using federal funds to buy crack pipes for “safe smoking kits,” being labeled as false by those fact checkers, though. that has been proven.

“More recently, PolitiFact incorrectly characterized third-party content that challenges the Biden administration’s definition of a recession as ‘misinformation,'” the letter reads.

McMorris Rodgers even noted that former President Bill Clinton (D) defined a recession by the traditional definition of two consecutive quarters.

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

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

The letter continued:

Yet fact-checkers weighing in on an active debate by labeling opinions that are contrary to the Biden administration or that would be actively detrimental to Democrats’ election goals as “false news” blindly accept the administration’s claims as truth and harm to the credibility of any dissenting voice.

Not only does this appear to violate Poynter’s core principles, but it creates an echo chamber of misleading information for participants in active debate, contrary to the stated purpose of Poynter and fact-checkers.

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

House Republicans also pressed Poynter Instate to provide its definition of misinformation and whether users have the ability to challenge a fact-checker’s credential if they report content inaccurately.

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 on Twitter.


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