USA Today was slammed over a “so-called” fact-check on Wednesday declaring accusations of Biden checking his watch during the dignified transfer ceremony in honor of the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport was “partly false,” insisting that it occurred “only after” the ceremony.
The next day, the paper issued a correction admitting that Biden did check his watch “multiple times” during the ceremony but changed its ruling from “partly false” to “missing context.”
Daniel Funke, the USA Today reporter who authored the fact-check, took to Twitter on Friday offering a mea culpa.
“As many of you already know, this story has been corrected. Biden checked his watch multiple times during the ceremony. I regret the error,” Funke wrote. “Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right.”
After sharing a link to USA Today’s fact-checking guidelines explaining the “principles we try to uphold,” Funke added, “It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.”
While some gave Funke credit for owning up to his “mistake,” his tweets renewed another round of backlash on social media among those who suggest his erroneous reporting was intentional.
“What you did wasn’t a ‘mistake.’ There were videos of him looking at his watch during the ceremony circulating since Sunday… But you intentionally ignored them and claimed there was no evidence at all,” NewsBusters news analyst Nicholas Fondacaro reacted.
“With all due respect, Mr. Funke, your ‘fact check’ carried a direct implication that grieving, gold star families had LIED with their first-hand testimony of the events. Keep your ‘we regret the error’ and apologize, unequivocally, directly TO THEM,” radio host Larry O’Connor told the reporter.
“I’d have more sympathy if the ‘fact checking industry’ hadn’t viewed the Afghanistan crisis as a time to protect Biden instead of fact-checking the admin’s lies and obfuscation. We have unknown numbers of Americans stranded and they’re focused on conservative social posts,” GOP strategist Matt Whitlock tweeted.
“Daniel figured out who the true victim is in the saga of the ISIS-K suicide bombing of U.S. service members,” Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy quipped.
“@dpfunke – appreciate we all make mistakes, but this is more: 1. You strived to minimize watch-checking which goldstar families complained of 2. Irrelevant Trump mention clouds context 3. ‘Missing context’ correction still tries to minimize that Biden checked watch multiple times,” New York Post columnist Miranda Devine wrote.
“You didn’t get something wrong. You purposefully and willfully fact checked Gold Star families instead of the President. You did exactly what you think you’re paid to do, which is protect Jos Biden and his party,” Spectator contributor Stephen Miller tweeted.
Gannett, USA Today’s parent company, responded to Fox News’ request for comment with a statement from USA Today executive editor Jeff Taylor, which read, “We corrected the fact check story as soon as we realized it was erroneous and were fully transparent about the inaccuracies. Our mission is to report the facts as accurately as possible with no political agenda.”
Funke did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.