In today’s media environment, this was the logical endgame. Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler sees himself as the real victim of his twisted fact-check of Senator Tim Scott.
Despite some of the more charitable attempts to explain Glenn Kessler and his motivations, it’s clear that charity is not warranted in this case. Kessler has an agenda, and that agenda lines perfectly up with the Democrats (surprise!) making sure that Senator Scott doesn’t get any ideas about challenging them in 2024.
And just in case Tim Scott does get any ideas, the Democrats are right there to spew some outright ugly racist venom at him, a gift from the party of love and tolerance. Tim Scott, to his credit, isn’t going to let his haters distract him.
Glenn Kessler even got an indirect shout-out during Scott’s speech. This means that Kessler – the innocent journalist who JUST WANTED THE FACTS – is really the victim in this situation. Not the senator being called an “oreo” by a “tolerant” Democrat or being compared to a dancing raccoon on Twitter. Kessler is the victim – a victim of a right-wing mob who was listening to Fox News, apparently.
Welcomed on to NPR to lick his wounds and be patted on the head, Glenn Kessler put on his best “poor little me” act to explain why he is such a virtuous victim. After all, he was trying to be fair to Senator Scott, he claims, at the same time as he claims that Scott’s backstory was “a bit too tidy.”
Well, you know, part of his political origin story is this story of coming from virtually nothing to the heights of the Senate. You know, by his account, he was raised largely by a single mother in poor circumstances. And like I said, his story on the campaign trail was a bit too tidy for popular consumption.”
If I had been able to talk to him, I would have – you know, he was 10 or 11 when his great-grandfather died, so I was curious if he had ever visited this farm and what his impressions of it were. You know – and, in fact, I could only – for the great-great-grandfather, he says he had 900 acres. I could only find records for about 170 acres. So I was wondering if that was a bit of family lore. And, you know, he says his grandfather could not read or write, but the records indicate that his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather could read and write. So those were inconsistencies there, and maybe that’s a little uncomfortable for him to talk about.”
And Kessler was just shocked that both sides of the aisle, as his interviewer points out, had problems with his “fact-check.” And it was so, so hurtful that everyone noticed that Glenn Kessler himself comes from a quite wealthy background, his great-grandfather having helped build Shell Oil and his grandfather having a steel mill and all. And because people noticed this, Kessler is now the victim, he says.
But I have to admit, I was really surprised by the intensity of the reaction, much of which was fanned by Fox News. My parents are from the Netherlands, and a bunch of right-wing activists even falsely claimed on Twitter that my grandfather was a Nazi when, in fact, the Germans seized my grandfather’s steel company, and he was placed in a detention camp because he refused to cooperate with the Nazis. And virtually everyone on my grandmother’s side – on my mother’s side – perished in the Holocaust because they were Jewish.”
So it was not a very good day for me to see that spread with such vehement across the internet. And there was – not in any way did I ever suggest in the piece that Scott’s great-grandfather lived a privileged life. I mean, after all, this is the Jim Crow South we’re talking about.”
Yeah, no. This is a clever piece of retconning by Glenn Kessler when he invokes the “Jim Crow South” in this interview, because he never used that phrase in his original “fact-check” on Senator Scott, and was devastatingly called out on this by Erick Erickson.
Kessler, using legal records from the era, suggests Scott’s story is rosier than Scott paints it. Kessler points out Scott’s great-great-grandfather had amassed several hundred acres of land after the Civil War. Scott’s great-grandfather was literate and farmed the family land. It was only Scott’s grandfather who dropped out of school and never received an education.”
The South, after the Civil War, did see black families acquire land and wealth. The South then saw white landowners respond with Jim Crow laws that degraded the supposedly “separate but equal” black schools and restricted the voting rights and civic participation of black families. Kessler falls into the same pattern white supremacists have used for years to explain that black Americans had it just fine in the South.”
Using legal records, one can find land ownership, middle classes and good education among post-Civil War black families. It takes a closer look at real lives lived to see the constant fear, the bullying, the legal jeopardy, the degradation of schools and the need to drop out to protect hard-fought-for family land. It takes seeing the forest, not the trees.”
This rebuke was not lost on Glenn Kessler, who now wants to retroactively claim that of course he totally meant everything he said about Tim Scott’s family in the context of the Jim Crow South. That doesn’t pass the Pinocchio smell test there, Glenn. If you had meant that, you would have said it the first time. Instead, you were busy trying to poke holes in the “tidy” story that Tim Scott was telling in order to make life easier for the Democrats.
And now Glenn Kessler says he is the victim of the big meanies who called him out. The replies to his tweet promoting this interview say otherwise. It seems that Kessler’s attempt to justify his hack hit on Tim Scott isn’t going over well.
Now this is starting to feel like something of a personal crusade, Glenn.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) May 3, 2021
Kessler, like most mainstream journalists, is so determined to prove that he is on the side of the holy and the blameless that he just can’t let go of Tim Scott. He couldn’t POSSIBLY be in the wrong for having run this story, because journalists are NEVER wrong. That’s why he now has to double down on being a victim himself. Glenn Kessler, wrong? No way! Not him! It’s the vast right-wing conspiracy – or something.