The election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – now headed for a run-off – has drawn an unusual amount of attention, being seen by many as a litmus test of President Trump’s performance so far.
Raised temperatures in the battle between Jon Ossoff and his GOP foes for a traditionally Republican seat even drew the ire of the president himself, who weighed in hard to try to deny Ossoff a place in the House:
The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2017
Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2017
This in turn brought the attention of supposedly neutral fact-checking organizations, who, some might say true to form, leaped into action to defend the Democratic frontrunner.
The thrust of both “debunkings” from these arbiters of truth was that Trump’s stance was semantics and spin – and that Ossoff should be considered strong on immigration because he has paid lip service to bolstering border controls.
But their arguments are hardly spin-free themselves, and purposefully obscure what Trump’s (admittedly blunt) tweets were obviously getting at.
Ossoff is on the record insisting that a mass amnesty is the only practical way to deal with the 11 million or so people living in the US illegally.
That is to say, he wants people who entered America illegally to be given citizenship – a mainstream political position, which you can love or hate.
But any reasonable person would surely conclude that, however you slice it, it is indeed a plan to “allow illegal immigration”.
Trump has little time for nuance, but his argument passes the smell test – Ossoff is far more permissive than his GOP rivals on immigration issues.
By contrast, attempts by fact-checkers to clarify the argument have actually ended up obfuscating it further.
These back-and-forths matter – especially in a knife-edge election – since the mainstream media love citing “neutral” fact-checking bodies as a kind of shortcut to get around dissecting political claims themselves.
A cursory scan by Heat Street found that this time only liberal, millennial hothouse Mic.com citing PolitiFact, while the big dogs such as the AP and Georgia’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution left well alone.
But make no mistake, the trend is alive and well, and has ramifications far beyond a few overly worthy corners of the internet.