Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday accused left-leaning reporters and editors of practicing a new brand of “yellow journalism” in the form of fact check articles, which he said purport to catch politicians stretching the truth, but instead tend to advance the Democratic agenda.
Cruz, who is running for president in 2016, sat down with CNBC for an interview, and was asked about his joke that the U.S. should send 125,000 IRS agents to the border. CNBC reporter John Harwood host pointed out that there are only 25,000 IRS agents, and the rest are just IRS workers.
Harwood also asked why people should trust Cruz when he says Obamacare is killing jobs, when the U.S. has been adding jobs “at a very healthy clip.”
Cruz replied by saying the IRS line is one he uses as a joke on the campaign trail, and said left-leaning reporters have been reduced to fact checking jokes he makes.
“There is a game that is played by left-wing editorial writers,” Cruz said. “It’s this new species of yellow journalism called PolitiFact. Colloquially I was referring to all the employees as agents.”
“That particular stat is in a joke I used,” he added. “So, they’re literally fact-checking a joke. I say that explicitly tongue in cheek.”
Cruz’s quotes were provided by a CNBC transcript, but CNBC did not provide the video from this portion of the conversation. Instead, CNBC said the transcript was a “condensed, edited transcript of our conversation.”
Cruz isn’t the first Republican to complain about fact checkers. Some have said that while the effort is presented as neutral, behind that effort is a left-leaning reporter who is looking to discredit a conservative politician.
In 2013, the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University found that one fact checker, PolitiFact, run by the Tampa Bay Times, accused Republicans of lying three times as often as it accused Democrats of lying.
A story in The Wire that reported on that study suggested that one reason the results are skewed against Republicans is that fact checkers are choosing to fact check Republicans more than Democrats.