A dispute erupted between mainstream media “fact-checking” sites over Donald Trump’s stance on the Iraq war.
The Hill challenged Politifact’s “false” rating it gave to Trump’s statement that he opposed the Iraq War in 2003, suggesting it should have at least been rated “half-true.”
Politifact in particular relied heavily on an interview Trump gave to Howard Stern in 2002 in which he responded “Yeah, I guess so” when Stern asked him if he supported a potential war in Iraq.
The left-leaning “fact-checking” site claimed Trump’s statement meant he definitely supported the war, to which The Hill disputed.
“Instead, a reasonable person listening could only conclude that Trump probably hadn’t given the matter even a passing thought and answered matter-of-factly, because if Trump was so pro-Iraq War at the time, as he’s being portrayed of being by the media in 2016, one would think he — who seemingly shares every perspective that enters his head — would be mentioning it every chance he got in other interviews, which never happens,” The Hill pointed out. “…Months before [the Iraq situation] began to get any real traction in the American mindset, Trump’s thought process was one of ambivalence via having not given it almost any thought before being asked about it by Stern, which was nothing more than a quick tangent in an interview focusing on 20 other things.”
Snopes also differed from Politifact over the Stern interview, as Infowars reported on Sept. 28.
“If [Trump’s] remark wasn’t exactly a wholehearted endorsement of the notion of invading Iraq, it clearly wasn’t an expression of opposition to the idea either,” Snopes said, suggesting Trump was ambiguous at best.
Politifact’s claim that Trump supported the Iraq War was also pushed by the moderator at the first presidential debate, Lester Holt, who told Trump – in his face – that “the record shows” he didn’t oppose the war.
However, the record actually shows that Trump held reservations about the war nearly two months before it began.
In a Jan. 28, 2003, interview with Fox News, Trump said: “Perhaps [then-President Bush] shouldn’t be doing it yet [starting a war.] And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”
At the time, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, criticized a potential invasion of Iraq, stating it was “not in conformity with the U.N. Charter.”
In other words, had the US waited for official UN approval, as Trump suggested, the war wouldn’t have happened.
Additionally, not even a week after the invasion began, Trump said “this war’s a mess”, but at the time public support for the war hovered at 72%.
Trump also spoke out against the war in Aug. 2004 interview with Esquire Magazine, which Snopes wrongly claimed that “by then, this was not a particularly controversial stand to take.”
The controversial protest by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan outside Bush’s ranch didn’t occur until one year later.
“‘Fact checking’ is opinion journalism pretending to be some sort of heightened objectivity,” said Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto.
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