Washington Post fact checkers won't face facts


Maybe it's some special ability only Ted Cruz has, but according to the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog, the Texas senator can be correct without being right.

Last week, Cruz made a point he's often made about the complexity of the U.S. Tax Code.

"On tax reform, we, right now, have more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible — not a one of them as good," he said.

The Post's Fact Checker just can't bring itself to acknowledge he's right — in fact, in substance and in spirit.

"Cruz is correct on the comparison of words in both texts," the Post admits. "But regular readers of The Fact Checker know we frown on such counting exercises, like the number of pages in ‘Romneycare' health-care law in Massachusetts or the number of pages in President Obama's Affordable Care Act. Such comparisons — in this case, the word count of the evolving tax code of the most industrious country in the world to words in a religious document that was written thousands of years ago — don't really tell you much of anything."

Wait. What? The Fact Checker acknowledges that Cruz is correct, but that's not the point? Apparently so.

"We will not issue a Pinocchio rating or award a Geppetto Checkmark," the newspaper says.

Sen. Ted Cruz made a factual claim. His claim is that the Bible contains more words than the IRS laws. And his claim is factually correct.

"The literally translated King James Version of the Bible contains just over 800,000 words," the Post acknowledges. "There are as many as 3.7 million individual words in the IRS tax code."

Okay — so on the basis of simple math, Cruz is correct. So what's the Post's problem? Why can't it admit that Ted Cruz is right?

"This is a nonsense fact, something that is technically correct but ultimately meaningless," the Post contends. "Thus it is not worthy of a Geppetto Checkmark but neither does it qualify for a Pinocchio."

Stop right there. In a column dedicated to facts, not spin, the Post is rejecting the facts, because it doesn't provide the proper spin. Need further proof? The Post comments on the qualitative point Cruz was making — that the tax code is too complex.

"Why does it matter to the average taxpayer that the tax code is hard to comprehend?" the Post asks.

It matters because taxpayers actually have to pay taxes. And complexity costs money.

"At nearly 4 million words, the U.S. tax law is so thick and complicated that businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year complying with filing requirements, according to a report by an independent government watchdog," the Associated Press reports.

According to the study, by Nina E. Olson, "If tax compliance were an industry, it would be one of the largest in the United States."

That's the point Cruz is making. It's not an irrelevant fact, nor is it false. The Washington Post shouldn't claim to be the nation's arbiter of fact, when it's really just adding spin.


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