Conservatives on Twitter ripped PolitiFact apart after it published a fact-check denying a claim made in a social media post that the White House has “changed the definition of recession” in order to protect Joe Biden.
The fact check came a day before the news broke that the U.S. economy has entered its second consecutive quarter of negative GDP, a traditionally tell-tale indicator of an economy entering into a recession.
Critics have been claiming that media outlets and the Biden administration have “redefined” what constitutes a recession, since they have been denying that the country is in one despite the consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
PolitiFact analyzed a claim made by conservative commentator Graham Allen in an Instagram post on Monday and labeled it “false.” Graham asserted, “The White House is now trying to protect Joe Biden by changing the definition of the word recession.”
The pundit then read the White House’s definition of recession, stating, “While some maintain that two consecutive quarters of falling real GDP constitute a recession, that is neither the official definition nor the way economists evaluate the state of the business cycle.”
Graham compared the Biden administration spin to a definition of recession provided to him by Apple’s Siri on his phone. Reading from an online dictionary, the AI said recession is, “A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”
Politifact deemed Graham’s post and its central claim of the White House “changing the definition” to “protect Joe Biden” a “false” rating. The fact checking database explained that the definition Graham used to counter the White House statement “has never been official.”
“However, the two-quarter threshold cited in the Instagram post has never been official. It’s more like a rough guide — one piece of a complicated puzzle,” it stated, adding, “the one-sentence definition Siri provided is not a closed answer. It’s a general guidance that includes exceptions.”
The outlet then cited the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee’s definition of recession, which the White House used for its statement. That definition is “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and that lasts more than a few months.”
“The committee says it weighs personal income, payrolls, personal expenditures, manufacturing and trade sales and industrial production,” in addition to the change in GDP, PolitiFact added.
Once this fact-check found its way to social media, conservatives found it ridiculous.
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., communications special advisor Steve Guest blasted the fact-check, tweeting, “The hacks over at Politifact are a shameless cog in the Democrat disinformation machine. This is completely brazen hackery on display. And it is why the so-called fact checking industry has zero credibility.”
NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham accused the site of spreading falsehoods, tweeting, “PolitiFact is Pants On Fire: ‘No, the White House didn’t change the definition of recession.’”
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton pushed back against the fact-check, writing, “@Politifact is corruptly lying about Biden WH change to the definition of ‘recession.’ And now this lie, to protect Joe Biden, will be used to censor countless users on @Facebook and other social media platforms.”
RNC Research Rapid Response Director Tommy Pigott called out PolitiFact for using the “consecutive quarters of negative growth” definition before, tweeting, “Biden inherited a recovery & created a recession. Biden’s own advisors, CNN, WaPo, PolitiFact, and USA Today have all defined recession as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.”
He added, “More importantly, 64% of Americans say we are in a recession.”
In response to a tweet claiming Facebook was using the PoltiFact claim to fact-check posts on its site, Reason.com senior editor Robby Soave tweeted, “Facebook’s fact-checkers are deranged ideologues, as likely to introduce errors as correct them.”
And Twitchy.com’s Twitter account tweeted “PolitiFact and Facebook team up to help Biden WH gaslight Americans on the definition of ‘recession,’” as well as linking to their article detailing the situation.