Bernie Sanders Demands Retraction of WaPo Fact Check

Erin Evans

In the past month, Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has twice claimed that half a million Americans go bankrupt each year because of medical bills.  He made the claim during an interview with CNN and via tweet.

Now Bernie Sanders is mad at the Washington Post for fact-checking his claim, deeming it “mostly false” and giving him three Pinocchios.

“I am writing in regards to the Washington Post Fact Checker’s Aug. 28 analysis, headlined: ‘Sanders’s flawed statistic: 500,000 medical bankruptcies a year,'” a senior adviser for his campaign wrote in a letter to the Post on Saturday.  “We demand that the Post immediately issue a retraction and inform its readers of this decision.”

Sanders’ campaign called the Post’s analysis “absurd.”

“The Post’s Fact Checker issued Senator Sanders ‘three pinocchios’ for accurately citing a peer-reviewed editorial published in the American Journal of Public Health,” the campaign wrote. “The Post even notes that the author of the editorial confirmed that Senator Sanders had accurately cited his work.”

The letter went on to accuse the Washington Post of a continued pattern of bias against Sanders.

“We hope that you will address the Fact Checker’s inappropriate coverage of Senator Sanders – first by immediately retracting this most recent piece, and then by committing the newspaper to covering Senator Sanders in a fair, professional and ethical manner that finally starts honoring the most basic standards of accuracy,” it concluded.

For its part, the Post said Sanders’ claim that 500,000 Americans will go bankrupt this year from medical bills is “a classic case of cherry-picking a number from a scientific study and twisting it to make a political point.” That number includes every bankruptcy case that mentions medical bills as a factor, not just those for whom medical bills were the main or even one of the main reasons for declaring bankruptcy.  The Post noted that correlation is not causation.

No word yet if the Washington Post will stick to its analysis or yield to Sanders’ demand for retraction.

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