A Washington Post fact-checker ruled Thursday that Joe Biden hadn't lied when he said he supported a fracking ban during Sunday's Democratic presidential debate. Rather, Biden had simply "described his fracking stance inaccurately."
The Post gave Biden "Zero Pinocchios" for saying during the most recent Democratic debate that he opposed fracking entirely. Instead, the paper pointed to the Biden campaign's explanation that the candidate had "misspoken" and that "his position was the same as ever," opposing fracking only on public lands.
Meanwhile, the Post criticized those who quoted Biden's remarks verbatim. "Critics pounced," the fact-checker wrote. "Republican operatives cut a short video of Biden’s remarks, to use as a cudgel in races against moderate House Democrats. Sanders supporters accused Biden of misleading voters about his policy, which doesn’t ban fracking outright, as Sanders would."
During Sunday's debate, Sanders said that he was pushing for a ban on future fracking. "So am I," Biden responded.
"Well, I'm not sure your proposal does that," Sanders replied. Later, the Vermont senator said, "You cannot continue, as I understand, Joe believes, to continue fracking."
"No more—no new fracking," Biden said in response.
"The Trump campaign also used a Biden video snippet from the debate in a tweet claiming he would 'ban fracking,'" the Post complained. "Right-wing media outlets including the Washington Free Beacon, the Daily Caller and Fox News all reported on Biden's remarks as though he had adopted a tougher line."
The Free Beacon article quoting Biden's remarks, to which the Post did not link, covered Biden's statement during the debate that there'd be "no more drilling" under his administration and only mentioned the fracking comments as an aside. The Free Beacon accurately wrote that "Biden, confronted by Sanders for not taking dramatic enough steps to combat climate change, also said there would be no 'new fracking' and 'not another coal plant will be built' under his administration."
Biden's drilling comments, another instance of the candidate "misspeaking" in a way that made his environmental platform more palatable to his party's left-wing base, was not acknowledged in the Post fact-check.
Biden previously said he "misspoke," avoiding a bad rating from the Post fact-checker, after he was caught falsely claiming on two separate occasions that he opposed the Iraq war from the moment it started.
"Regular readers know that we withhold Pinocchios when a politician admits error. Biden was on his way to Four Pinocchios until his staff acknowledged that he misspoke," the Post wrote. "So we will leave this unrated and let readers make their own decision."