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PolitiFact Virginia Retracts Fact Check Against Deceptive Terry McAuliffe Ad, Reposts The Same Conclusion A Day Later

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Andrew Kerr Investigative Reporter
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  • PolitiFact Virginia retracted a fact check against a misleading campaign advertisement from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe only to republish it a day later with the same conclusion.
  • The original version of the fact check, which was published Monday, said McAuliffe’s ad took 2017 comments from his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin out of context to make it seem like Younkin approved of McAuliffe’s record during his first stint as Virginia’s governor.
  • The fact check was republished Wednesday afternoon with a correction notice but did not change its conclusion that McAuliffe’s ad took Youngkin’s comments out of context. 

PolitiFact Virginia retracted a fact check against a misleading campaign advertisement from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe only to republish it a day later with the same conclusion.

VPM, a local Virginia news outlet with a partnership with PolitiFact, originally published the fact check on Monday. The fact check said a McAuliffe campaign web ad took comments from his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin during a 2017 panel discussion out of context to make it seem like Youngkin approved of McAullife’s record during his first stint as Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018.

“In assessing Youngkin’s comments, it’s also important to consider his role as moderator and McAuliffe’s role as a panelist. Moderators are typically neutral and polite to panelists,” the retracted PolitiFact fact check stated. “So, contrary to McAuliffe’s assertion, Youngkin’s 2017 words do not prove he was a ‘big fan’ of the former governor’s economic policies, or that his current criticism of McAuliffe’s stewardship is a flip flop.”

VPM abruptly retracted the PolitiFact fact check on Tuesday afternoon “due to a substantial omission in our reporting,” the outlet said in a tweet. “We apologize for our error and will publish a retraction notice on the VPM site.”

VPM’s tweet was posted at 2:12 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Following the publication of this article, PolitiFact Virginia republished its article with a correction notice saying it did not reach out to the McAuliffe campaign prior to publishing its original story.

However, the conclusion of the updated fact check remained the same.

“The bottom line: Contrary to McAuliffe’s ad assertion, Youngkin’s 2017 words do not prove he was a “big fan” of the former governor’s economic policies,” the updated article stated.

PolitiFact did not return multiple requests for comment. (RELATED: PolitiFact Quietly Retracts ‘Pants On Fire’ Lab Leak Fact Check)

Youngkin campaign spokesman Matt Wolking told the Daily Caller News Foundation that PolitiFact’s retraction doesn’t change the fact that the McAuliffe campaign ad was deceptively edited.

“Nothing can change the fact that PolitiFact examined the deceptively edited video released by Terry McAuliffe’s campaign and concluded it spliced and diced things out of context in order to mislead viewers,” Wolking said. “Terry McAuliffe’s campaign is built on lies because he has nothing to offer Virginians after 40 years as a political hatchet man and politician pretending to be a businessman.”

Less than an hour after VPM retracted the PolitiFact story Tuesday afternoon, McAuliffe published a tweet saying Youngkin was once proud of his economic record before he launched his gubernatorial campaign in early 2021.

McAuliffe’s tweet linked to a Business Insider story published June 16 that states: “Glenn Youngkin was for Terry McAuliffe’s economy before he was against it.”

Youngkin has stated in recent months that Virginia’s economy is “in the ditch” due to McAuliffe and Northam’s leadership.

The Business Insider story highlighted three instances between 2017 and 2020 to back up its claim that Youngkin was for McAuliffe’s economy before entering politics.

The first example provided in the story was the 2017 panel discussion that PolitiFact’s retracted fact check said was not sufficient evidence to prove that Youngkin supported McAuliffe’s economic record.

The Business Insider story also highlighted comments Youngkin made in 2019 and 2020 about Virginia’s economy, both of which were made long after McAuliffe’s first term as Virginia governor was over in early 2018.

The McAuliffe campaign did not return a request for comment.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect VPM’s statement on the republished fact check.

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