Anyone wondering how protective the legacy media will be of Joe Biden’s incoming administration got a good indication on Tuesday, when USA Today fact-checked a photo of his Press Secretary Jen Psaki wearing a Soviet souvenir.
There was no allegation that the photo, posted on Twitter by Donald Trump campaign spokesman Matt Wolking, was altered or fraudulent. There was no assertion made by Wolking that might be considered false or misleading. His tweet merely described the picture, showing Psaki wearing the pink ushanka hat while posing with her then-boss, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and her Moscow counterpart Maria Zakharova.
USA Today nevertheless dove in to scrutinize the truthfulness of the photo, concluding that it was “missing context.” The context was that Lavrov gave the hat to Psaki at a diplomatic meeting in Paris, USA Today said. The newspaper even cited an anonymous source to add that Psaki didn’t keep the hat.
That’s despite Psaki being on the record telling reporters she kept it and would take it to the White House when she became communications director for President Barack Obama in March 2015.
Conservative Twitter naturally mocked USA Today for thinking it appropriate to fact-check the photo and even find fault with its veracity.
“Why are you fact-checking this? No one’s making a claim,” said Donald Trump Jr. “Just showing her wearing a commie hat – that’s a fact. If the media stopped running cover for Democrats as their primary mission, maybe they’d have some credibility left,” the president’s son added.
Why are you fat checking this? No one’s making a claim just showing her wearing a commie hat… THATS A FACT!!!If the media stopped running cover for Democrats as their primary mission maybe they have some credibility left. https://t.co/DtcKwkAev9
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 1, 2020
“So, it’s not photoshopped. It’s real. The end,” media critic Mark Dice declared.
So, it’s not photoshopped. It’s real. The end.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) December 1, 2020
Caleb Hull called the fact-check article “hot garbage” and said USA Today reporter Camille Caldera should “straight-up be fired for writing it,” while author Mike Cernovich took solace in how revealing the article was, saying, “Thank you for being this overt with your fraud.”
Thank you for being this overt with your fraud.
— Cerno (@Cernovich) December 1, 2020
Psaki herself reacted to Wolking’s publication of the photo by declaring that the purpose of “Russian propaganda” is to “discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public,” and anyone repeating it is “simply a puppet.”
For anyone who hasn’t been the target of Russian propaganda (cc: @McFaul@HillaryClinton) the purpose is to discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public. Anyone who repeats it is (unwitting or not) simply a puppet of the propaganda machine.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) December 1, 2020
Biden, whom the US mainstream media has anointed the president-elect, chose Psaki as his press secretary as part of an all-female White House communications team that was announced on Sunday.
Psaki’s frequent gaffes made her somewhat of a celebrity while she worked as State Department spokeswoman under Kerry. Her errors included struggling with the difference between Iraq and Iran and criticizing the phenomenon of “carousel voting” before admitting that she didn’t know what it was.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!