Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden absolutely opposed the White House’s coronavirus travel restrictions on China, going as far as to call the rules “xenophobic.” Incredibly, several people with “fact-checker” in their job titles have suggested otherwise. They need to be corrected.
On Wednesday, during the vice-presidential debate, Vice President Mike Pence defended President Trump’s record on the coronavirus outbreak. Pence hit Biden for opposing the White House’s earliest efforts to mitigate the pandemic, including its travel restrictions on China.
Trump “suspended all travel from China,” Pence said, “the second-largest economy in the world … Senator Joe Biden opposed that decision. He said it was xenophobic and hysterical.”
CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, who has this weird habit of downplaying Biden’s lies by playing up Trump’s, snapped to attention.
“The intent of Biden’s ‘xenophobic’ comment was murky,” Dale asserted. “He never explicitly called the travel restrictions xenophobic; he did make a xenophobia allegation the same day the restrictions were announced, but it wasn’t clear if he even knew about them at the time.”
The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof, who is not a fact-checker, similarly jumped to attention, sharing on social media a decidedly incorrect “fact-check.”
“Pence is also wrong when he claims that Biden opposed the China travel restrictions,” said Kristof, sharing a July 15 FactCheck.org article that states falsely that, “Biden took no position on the China restrictions when they were implemented.”
Earlier, on March 27, PolitiFact similarly awarded a “mostly false” rating to Trump’s assertion that Biden had called the China travel restrictions “xenophobic” and “racist.”
This is absurd. Biden clearly opposed the White House’s China travel ban.
The restrictions went into effect on Jan. 31. On the following day, Feb. 1, Biden said on social media, “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.”
This Feb. 1 Biden tweet goes unacknowledged in FactCheck.org’s review of Trump’s claims.
On March 12, Biden tweeted, “A wall will not stop the coronavirus. Banning all travel from Europe — or any other part of the world — will not stop it. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet — and we need a plan to combat it.”
Later, on March 18, Trump said on social media, “I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!”
Biden (surely with the help of campaign aides, but still) responded directly to Trump’s tweet, declaring, “Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job.”
So how much clearer does the Democratic nominee need to be before we take him at his word that he opposed the restrictions and specifically called them xenophobic? Does he need to scribble “me no like” on a whiteboard with an arrow pointing to the words “China travel restrictions”?
With “fact-checkers” like this, Biden hardly even needs a press shop.