The New York Times fact-checked Tuesday’s presidential debate in real-time, but some of the outlet’s assessments left its social media followers seeing red.
In the “domestic policy” portion of the debate, Democratic nominee Joe Biden claimed that the Obama administration had left President Donald Trump a “booming economy” and that Trump had squandered the gift, bringing American industry to a screeching halt, plunging the nation into record unemployment and a shrinking gross domestic product.
Biden’s claim relies on cutting the novel coronavirus out of the equation completely and operating as though the economy ended up in freefall in the first quarter of 2020 because of Trump administration policies and not because of a near-nationwide lockdown that forced businesses to shutter, drove millions out of work, and nearly destroyed retail sales, lending, and investment.
The New York Times, to their credit, pointed out Biden’s mistake, calling his claim “false.”
“The economy was not ‘booming’ in the final year of Biden’s time as vice president,” the outlet noted, “and Trump did not ’cause’ the pandemic recession. The economy was healthy in 2016, but growth had dipped below 2%.”
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 30, 2020
The response was tepid. The economy was, in fact, doing well before COVID-19 hit, and before the pandemic, many voters credited their newfound economic stability to Trump’s policies, which included across-the-board tax cuts and incentives for companies that had gone abroad during the Obama years to return operations to the United States. Workers also largely approved of Trump’s decision to renegotiate key trade deals.
Although it may not be evident to all American workers, CNN reports that the economy, post-coronavirus, is also “booming.”
“On paper, the economy is roaring back even stronger than Powell and many economists expected: More than 22 million jobs vanished in the spring lockdown, but 10.6 million jobs have since been added back,” the network said earlier this week. “And US gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy — is expected to rebound sharply after collapsing at a revised, annualized and seasonally adjusted rate of 31.7% between April and June. The Atlanta Fed’s GDP Now model predicts GDP will jump at an annualized and seasonally-adjusted rate of 32% in the third quarter.”
The New York Times’ social media followers, however, had a big problem with the paper pointing that out and then using a graphic, showing the Biden fact-check, as the key image for their story on how both candidates bent the truth.
“THIS is what you focus on?” one cried, urging the paper to showcase Trump’s foibles instead.
“Wow. What happened to your paper?” asked another.
“Collaborators,” sneered another. Yet another simply told the paper to “Delete this.”
A few even threatened to cancel their subscriptions: “Cancelling my subscription tomorrow,” one wailed. “I’m done with you. This is ridiculous. Ludicrous. Shameful.”
Those were, of course, the more rational of the responses. Some preferred to simply tell The New York Times to do unspeakable things to itself over a single fact-check.