The Washington Post shocked readers on Friday for publishing a "hit job" on Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, questioning his family history of going from a childhood picking cotton to the halls of Congress.
Scott, who was chosen Thursday to deliver the Republican Party’s response to President Biden's speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28, was the subject of a lengthy piece by the Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler.
"If you find yourself telling the grandson of a Depression-era Black man who spent his youth picking cotton to check his privilege, please for the love of all that is holy log off, WaPo," Washington Examiner executive editor Seth Mandel responded.
Pundit Stephen L. Miller added, "Democrats and media can lie about what Jim Crow was for weeks on end and not a word from Glenn or his newspaper. Not one. A black conservative Senator whose grandfather actually lived during Jim Crow comes along.. Glenn is 'Now wait just a minute.' This is a stunning new low."
The piece, "Tim Scott often talks about his grandfather and cotton. There’s more to that tale," examined the "origin stories" of comments the Senator has made about being an ancestor of slaves. Scott has said his grandfather dropped out of elementary school to pick cotton, so the liberal newspaper enlisted its fact-checker to get to the bottom of the claim.
"The tale of his grandfather fits in with a narrative of Scott moving up from humble circumstances to reach a position of political power in the U.S. Senate," Kessler wrote. "But Scott separately has acknowledged that his great-great-grandfather, Lawrence Ware, once owned 900 acres in South Carolina."
Kessler then declared he "dug into the South Carolina census records" to "close this gap in Scott’s narrative" despite admitting "census data is historically questionable at best — and at times unreliable."
"Our research reveals a more complex story than what Scott tells audiences. Scott’s grandfather’s father was also a substantial landowner — and Scott’s grandfather, Artis Ware, worked on that farm," Kessler wrote. "Scott’s family history in South Carolina offers a fascinating window into a little-known aspect of history in the racist South following the Civil War and in the immediate aftermath of slavery — that some enterprising Black families purchased property as a way to avoid sharecropping and achieve a measure of independence from White-dominated society."
Kessler then dove into a longwinded tale of Scott’s ancestors using data he already admitted was often unreliable.
Kessler then declared, "Scott’s ‘cotton to Congress’ line is missing some nuance, but we are not going to rate his statements." The Post fact checker declined to give Scott any Pinocchios.
"Scott tells a tidy story packaged for political consumption, but a close look shows how some of his family’s early and improbable success gets flattened and written out of his biography. Against heavy odds, Scott’s ancestors amassed relatively large areas of farmland, a mark of distinction in the Black community at the time," Kessler wrote. "Scott, moreover, does not mention that his grandfather worked on his father’s farm — a farm that was expanded through land acquisitions even during the Great Depression, when many other Black farmers were forced out of business."
"Senator Scott deserves an apology for this. It's everything wrong with the fact checking industry. The targeting. The lack of good faith. The personal side of it. It's bad," political strategist Rory Cooper wrote.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the article "shameful."
One journalist called the article, "the most cringe inducing thing I have seen in an American newspaper in many years."
Republican strategist Matt Whitlock pointed out that most people will see the headline without having access to the article because of the Post’s paywall and assume Scott was lying about his family.
The Washington Post did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Scott’s office declined comment, saying he was focused on delivering the GOP response to Biden’s first speech to a joint session of Congress.
Twitter exploded with people criticizing Kessler's report: