DEJA VU: Fact-Butcher Glenn Kessler DOUBLES DOWN on Debunked ‘Slipshod’ Inflation Spin

September 28th, 2023 7:02 PM

Apparently The Washington Post’s in-house fact-butcher Glenn Kessler hasn’t learned his lesson. He regurgitated one of his already-debunked arguments spinning inflation data to protect President Joe Biden.

Kessler used the second GOP presidential primary debate to once again target candidates who dared to suggest that American families lost significant spending power as a result of President Biden’s policy-induced inflation crisis. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley asserted that Biden’s economy has cost “$7,000 more a year for families,” which Kessler got triggered over. He attributed Haley’s statement to analysis conducted by Heritage Foundation economist EJ Antoni, which the fact-checker brazenly misrepresented. Kessler falsely claimed that Antoni’s analysis was faulty because it supposedly “relied on a change in purchasing power and a change in borrowing power. The change in borrowing power relied on mortgage rates — and not every family is looking for a new home.” This isn’t the first time Kessler has done this.

Antoni got straight to the point and eviscerated Kessler’s arguments in a Twitter thread: “This is the second time @GlennKesslerWP has misrepresented what I told him.” Antoni thoroughly debunked the same lazy argument by Kessler in an interview with MRC Business back in August. 

Kessler plastered a two-bit “fact-check” on a parallel argument made by Republican presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) during the first GOP presidential primary debate about Americans losing spending power under Biden. Kessler’s line of reasoning in the fact-checks of Haley’s and Scott’s policy positions were nearly identical and both pieces fudged the facts on Antoni’s analysis. It should come as little surprise then that both fact-checks duplicated the same misrepresentations of Antoni’s work nearly word for word. 

Antoni told MRC Business in August that Kessler’s assessment of the numbers in his fact-check of Scott was “just flat-out wrong.” “I literally explained [my calculations] to him both on the phone and via email in a previous conversation. I explained how these figures are actually calculated.” It’s as if Kessler copied and pasted his Scott fact-check into his Haley fact-check just for the sake of looking twice as silly. Instead of fixing his assessment, Kessler just simply transplanted his nonsense over to his rebuttal of Haley nearly verbatim.

Antoni blasted Kessler’s latest attempt to mislead readers again in new comments to MRC Business and advised him to “correct the record.” Antoni said, “Portraying my calculations in such a slipshod manner gives the illusion that they were performed without care of thought, which obviously is not the case.” 

Antoni had critiqued that “borrowing power,” as described by Kessler, “is a made-up term, so I’m not sure what he means by that.” But Kessler simply regurgitated the term as if it  somehow still made sense. 

Kessler also regurgitated the false implication that the financing cost component Antoni analyzed was based solely on “mortgage rates.” Antoni had actually factored in “all borrowing costs” and not just mortgage rates. “There’s mortgages,” said Antoni. “You have your home loan, your student loan, your auto loan, your credit cards. This looks at much more than just mortgages. I’m not sure why [Kessler] thinks that mortgages are the only component to that.” But Kessler just chose to double down. 

Kessler repeated his nonsense, falsely claiming that Antoni’s “reliance on average weekly wages” does not “follow the same workers across time” and “was an imperfect basis for families’ income changing over time.” But as Antoni noted in August, “Uh, it’s a nationwide average.” Kessler’s assumption, said Antoni, was just plain “odd.” “I’m talking about all workers here. So unless someone has just entered the workforce within the last couple of years or exited the workforce within the last couple years, yes! I am talking about the same workers over time.”

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