U.S. Sen. Tim Scott claims to be outraged that the Washington Post checked his claims against the record.
Republican junk jams my spam email file, scores of panting messages every day. A quick sample: “Biden Threatens War With Russia” and “Exposed: Biden’s Plot To Crush Gun Owners” and “FIRE Fauci.”
Almost every communication ends with a plea for cash, all hyperventilating with the frantic, the-house-on-fire-save-the-baby! hysteria that is the official GOP tone: cry doom and rattle the cup. To be fair, Democrats do it, too, though I don’t get nearly as many. I’m not sure why.
Maybe the same trolls who sign me up for fringe gun nut groups under the mistaken notion it bothers me also donate in my name to Republican candidates. Maybe the emails are sent to every known address including mine. Who can say?
I usually never click on them or even read the subject line. There are too many. But I do sometimes open the spam file to take a peek before deleting everything, like someone glancing into the toilet bowl before flushing.
Occasionally, something catches my attention, such the subject line, “My family’s story is being fact-checked?!” from U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who will give the GOP response to President Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress April 28.
Fact-checking is a good thing in the world of the mainstream media. But then again, so are facts. The idea that fact-checking would be used as a cry of grievance is like someone shouting out a window, “Help me, my kitchen is being cleaned!” It certainly is intriguing.
The email from Scott, the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate, begins:
“The mainstream media has decided to fact-check my family’s story of ‘cotton to Congress in one lifetime.’ That’s right, The Washington Post has been investigating my family’s history in the South and downplaying the struggles and racism they faced. It’s shameful. Plain and simple.”
He’s referring to Glenn Kessler’s April 23 story in the Washington Post, which starts with several quotes from Scott, depicting his grandfather Artis Ware as an illiterate who picked cotton, then delving into records to see if that’s true.
It seems Scott’s grandfather could read and write, and if he picked cotton, it was on the substantial farm his father owned. Its conclusion is not particularly damning to the senator:
“Scott tells a tidy story packaged for political consumption, but a close look shows how some of his family’s early and improbable success gets flattened and written out of his biography. Against heavy odds, Scott’s ancestors amassed relatively large areas of farmland, a mark of distinction in the Black community at the time. Scott, moreover, does not mention that his grandfather worked on his father’s farm — a farm that was expanded through land acquisitions even during the Great Depression.”
In other words, Scott is like every other politician, pretending to have humbler roots than reality would indicate. Bruce Rauner talked about his teenage jobs far more than about his nine mansions. It’s what they do.
Yet Scott ruffles with indignation. “But no amount of ‘fact-checking’ or attacks from the mainstream media will EVER take away from the struggles that my family overcame,” he insists.
Scott is joined by a chorus of right wing outrage, from Fox News to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who tweets:
“What WaPo did to @SenatorTimScott is shameful. When minorities refuse to be victims, disagree with liberal talking points, and think for ourselves, the media shames us and questions our credibility.”
We could discuss whether those who excuse the Capitol insurrection of Jan. 6 can be said to feel shame. Suggesting scrutiny is something reserved for Republicans is the kind of faux victimization the GOP excels at. Yet they still expect accuracy. I checked the spelling of “Nikki;” if I got it wrong, people would complain while still denouncing fact-checking.
Scott gets to his plea.
“Every time I see a nasty insult from the Left or an unjust ‘fact-check,’ I am comforted knowing that there are patriots like you, Neil, who have my back … Sadly, this won’t be the last time we face insults, casual racism, or attacks from the Left. But with your help we can continue spreading the positive message of conservatism.”
Is undercutting the bedrock of democracy — kneecapping voting, slurring the press and constraining free speech — while living in an upside-down alternate reality of your own making now considered “conservative?” I suppose it is.