Throughout his more than half-century as an elected federal official, Joe Biden has been called and challenged on his lack of accuracy and tendency to embellish and invent in his formal writing and speaking.
Did President Biden build on that legacy in his State of the Union address last night?
The verdict is mixed.
Predictably, media judgment on how closely Biden adhered to and aligned himself with the truth fluctuated depending on the ideology of the editorial and opinion section of the outlet, with those with liberal and progressive leanings awarding the president higher marks for veracity than those meaning conservative and to the right.
Right-leaning Fox News published a story with the leading and telling title, “Fact checkers call out Biden’s State of the Union claims about the deficit as ‘misleading,’ ‘lacking context.'”
The article noted, “Several liberal media outlets quickly took issue with Biden’s remarks.”
At the Capitol, Biden had said, “In the last two years, my administration has cut the deficit by more than $1.7 trillion—the largest deficit reduction in American history.”
Fox then listed partial assessments of Biden’s claim from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, the latter of which said, “Biden’s boast leaves out important context. It is true that the federal deficit fell by $1.7 trillion under Biden in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, including a record $1.4 trillion drop in 2022—but it is highly questionable how much credit Biden deserves for this reduction.”
And yet, here, Fox News is open to criticism for withholding context about these liberal media reports.
On the whole, CNN evaluated Biden as sticking reasonably and consistently to the truth, and The New York Times wrote, “The president’s speech contained no outright falsehoods, but at times omitted crucial context or exaggerated the facts.”
Meanwhile, conservative publication The New York Post called what it saw as a host of fouls in its editorial, “Biden’s State of the Union set new records for dishonesty and emptiness.”
“He ranged across a world of issues without substantively addressing the biggest ones—crime, the border crisis, China, the nation’s looming economic woes—because his record is so weak on all of them,” The Post said.
“Instead, he offered lie after lie in a shameless bid to fool the electorate ahead of the 2024 run for re-election. His only ‘big-idea’ is to make bogeymen out of the wealthy and offer the American people more freebies, more unsustainable spending.”
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who may have designs herself on the Oval Office and the White House, delivered the official GOP response to the President’s speech.
Gov. Huckabee did not engage in a whole lot of fact-checking but did accuse the President of misdirection and evading the truth.
“Being a mom to three young children taught me not to believe every story I hear,” Sanders said. “So forgive me for not believing much of anything I heard tonight from President Biden.
“From out-of-control inflation and violent crime to the dangerous border crisis and threat from China, Biden and the Democrats have failed you.
“They know it. And you know it. And it’s time for a change.”