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Fact Checking the Fact Checkers: Yes, Stacey Abrams Supported an All-Star Game Boycott

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D.) / Getty Images
• May 27, 2022 2:15 pm

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PolitiFact Claim: "No, Stacey Abrams didn’t support the baseball All-Star game boycott of Atlanta."

Washington Free Beacon Ruling: Misleading

PolitiFact elides Abrams's role in creating the conditions that led to the MLB All-Star Game boycott and focuses on her later statements expressing disappointment with the boycott to arrive at their misleading conclusion.

Background: 

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her Fair Fight Action group attempted to topple a Georgia election bill in 2020, in part by calling for boycotts. Critics of the bill pushed Major League Baseball to pull its 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave in to pressure in April and moved the game to Denver.

In recent weeks, Abrams has attempted to distance herself from the All-Star Game debacle—and fact checkers have given her a hand. On May 25, PolitiFact declared "No, Stacey Abrams didn't support the baseball All-Star game boycott of Atlanta."

PolitiFact's ruling is based on a since-edited March 2021 USA Today op-ed where Abrams claimed boycotts were not necessary "yet," and an April 2021 statement where Abrams lamented the MLB's decision to move the game.

But the full scope of Abrams's involvement is more complicated.

The Facts:

PolitiFact does not mention that Abrams spent months leading the opposition to Georgia's election law, often making hyperbolic and dishonest statements. Abrams claimed the bill was racist, frequently comparing it to Jim Crow laws. Even the Washington Post gave Abrams "Two Pinocchios" for falsely claiming the law curtailed Georgia's voting hours.

The fact checkers also ignore that Abrams's political organization, Fair Fight Action, pressured businesses to denounce the legislation as calls for a boycott grew louder. Abrams and her team were also reportedly working behind the scenes to strong-arm the MLB. Fox News reported that the decision to move the event was made in response to pressure from voting rights groups run by Abrams and Al Sharpton. PolitiFact's assessment does not mention this.

Nor does the fact check capture the ambiguities of Abrams's statements allegedly opposing the boycott. In an April 2021 interview with the Associated Press, Abrams claimed boycotts are what enabled her to fight the bill "as a free citizen," before qualifying that she did "not believe that a boycott at this moment is beneficial to the victims" of Georgia's election laws. But in the next breath, Abrams said, "it is absolutely necessary for corporations to show their goodwill" and called on them to "publicly denounce" the legislation.

PolitiFact even downplayed the extent to which Abrams edited her USA Today piece as she tried to distance herself from the MLB boycott. In the original piece, Abrams said she "can't argue with an individual's choice" to boycott Georgia products. She also offered advice on how to ensure an equitable boycott. In the revised piece, Abrams said, "Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia."

PolitiFact claims the two versions are "not noticeably different."

Conclusion:

Stacey Abrams may not have joined President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders who actively pushed for Georgia boycotts. But she helped initiate the boycott campaign and refused to break with the effort until the MLB moved the All-Star Game. PolitiFact's fact check obscures the facts to downplay Abrams's role in the boycott.