Whoops: WaPo Backtracks After Boston Bomber Gets Biden Stimulus Cash

Brittany M. Hughes | January 7, 2022
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The Washington Post has amended a 2021 article disputing Sen. Tom Cotton’s claim that Biden’s COVID stimulus checks would go to violent criminals after it turned out that some of Biden’s COVID stimulus checks...well, went to violent criminals.

The “news” outlet did an about-face Thursday on their previous determination that Cotton had fibbed about the aid money going to imprisoned terrorists – well, kinda. 

Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, had claimed back in March 2021 that some of Biden’s taxpayer-funded stimulus cash would end up in the hands of criminals like Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof and Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, saying that while Republicans had attempted to amend Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” to exclude prisoners, Democrats voted against the change and moved forward with the bill as-is.

WaPo at the time called Cotton’s claim “hyped" and accused him of "scaremongering" for campaign purposes, saying that Republicans had also green-lit stimulus efforts under Trump that didn’t bar prisoners from receiving checks, and that Democrats never intentionally gave payments to mass murderers.

“The goal was to get checks out as quickly as possible without burdensome regulations. It’s hard to craft rules that target mass murderers without also penalizing the families of people in prison for much less heinous crimes,” the Washington Post provided as cover.

But it turns out Tsarnaev – who was convicted after killing three and injuring more then 280 after planting pressure cooker bombs near the track during the 2013 Boston Marathon – did receive a $1,400 stimulus check thanks to the Democrats’ bill, as revealed in court filings this week.

It's a detail Cotton’s office was quick to point out on Twitter – and to send to the fine “fact-checkers” over at the Washington Post.

In response, Washington Post Fact-Check Editor and Chief Writer Glenn Kessler said the outlet was reducing their “Two-Pinocchio” rating to just one.

“It turns out Tom Cotton predicted correctly -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston bomber, did get a stimulus check. So we've adjusted the Pinocchio rating on this 2021 fact check,” he wrote on Twitter.

Here’s their explanation, per an update posted to the bottom of their 2021 story

Cotton primarily received the Two-Pinocchio rating because his comments lacked context. He suggested this problem was the result of something Democrats did, when he had previously voted for legislation with the same language that allowed for checks to be issued to prisoners. He also made it clear that he intended weaponize this debate for campaign ads.

Still, Cotton’s predictive powers should be acknowledged. He said the Boston bomber would get a stimulus check — and Tsarnaev did. Now, if the government is successful, this money will go to victims. So Tsarnaev still will not keep it. But in retrospect, the use of the phrase of “scaremongering” was inappropriate. Cotton had raised a legitimate issue of concern, even if he framed it in a political way. The term “hyped up” in the headline went too far as well.

Thus, we will reduce the rating on this claim to One Pinocchio — our version of “mostly true.” His statement still lacks some context but he was certainly correct that Tsarnaev would receive a stimulus check.

We rate the sincerity of this correction to be “Five Hillarys” – our version of “smells like total bullcrap.”