In the latest example of a PolitiFact “fact checker” stepping on a rake, reporter Yacob Reyes reached out to Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw for comment on the his recent claim that almost 60% of outstanding student loan debt is graduate school debt.
“Hello, I am writing a fact-check on a quick deadline following Gov. Ron DeSantis claim: ‘The student debt that it out there, almost 60% of it is graduate school debt.’ If you would like to provide supporting material for the claim, I would need to hear by 9 p.m. Meanwhile, I’ll be continuing my own research and interviews” he wrote in an email to Pushaw.
It’s unclear how much research Reyes had done at the time of writing, as the source of DeSantis’ claim was the non-profit journalism school and research organization Poynter, of which Reyes is himself a staff writer for.
Pushaw fired back at Reyes; “Hi Yacob, your own employer, Poynter, recently published research about this topic finding that 56% of outstanding student debt is owed by households that hold graduate degrees. I think 56% qualifies as ‘almost 60%.’ Thanks.”
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 3, 2022
The article in question, published one day before Reyes emailed Pushaw for comment, noted that:
The foundation of that argument that debt forgiveness would benefit richer white Americans is found in the fact that people working in higher-income positions — for example, doctors and lawyers — took on a significant amount of student debt attending graduate and post-graduate school. The Brookings Institute says 56% of the outstanding student debt is owed by households that hold graduate degrees.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York spelled this out in a study that shows lower-income households would not benefit nearly as much as higher-income households.
Despite this misfire, Reyes still has yet to top his historic feat in mental gymnastics from just last March, where he attempted to fact check Maria Bartiromo’s statement that “We have doubled our oil imports from Russia in the last year,” rating the claim mostly false, stating “The U.S. did not double oil imports from Russia in the last year.” Then two paragraphs into his article, Reyes writes that “The U.S. did double the amount of crude oil imported from Russia last year. But Russia accounts for only about 3% of overall U.S. crude oil imports in 2021.”
I await his future work with glee.
Matt Palumbo is the author of The Man Behind the Curtain: Inside the Secret Network of George Soros
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