Wall Street Journal Reporter Fact-Checks Mike Pence’s False Pandemic Response Claims in Wall Street Journal Op-Ed
A Wall Street Journal reporter fact-checked several false claims about the federal government’s coronavirus response made by Vice President Mike Pence in an op-ed that ran in the… Wall Street Journal.
In a story published on Friday entitled: “Pence Overstates Coronavirus Supplies Delivered by Administration’s ‘Airbridge’ Program,” WSJ‘s Rebecca Ballhaus examined Pence’s claims and found they were contradicted by public data released by FEMA.
According to FEMA data, through June 18 the program had delivered 1.5 million N95 masks, 113.4 million surgical masks, 2.5 million face shields, 50.9 million gowns, 1.4 million coveralls and 937 million gloves. The total number of those supplies is about 7%—or one-thirteenth—of the numbers cited in Mr. Pence’s article.
“A Pence official acknowledged the error on Thursday,” Ballhaus noted in her report, adding that the White House’s explanation for the errors involved counting “all supplies delivered by the federal government” and “major medical-surgical distributors that it partnered with.”
Ballhaus’ report was fact-checking a Pence-authored WSJ op-ed, “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave'” from Tuesday. In it, Pence boasted of the Project Air Bridge’s effectiveness, although all of the numbers he cited were gross overstatements of the actual facts.
Since then, we’ve increased the supply of personal protective equipment by the billions. Our administration launched a partnership with private industry that, as of June 12, had delivered more than 143 million N95 masks, 598 million surgical and procedural masks, 20 million eye and face shields, 265 million gowns and coveralls, and 14 billion gloves. Part of this effort, Project Air Bridge, has conducted more than 200 flights bringing equipment from overseas. In addition, we’ve worked with the private sector to ramp up ventilator production. Today, we have more than 30,000 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile, and we’re well on our way to building 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. No American who required a ventilator was ever denied one.
In the WSJ reported story, which included other instances of Pence being called out for exaggerated achievements, Ballhaus noted that “The Journal’s news and opinion pages operate independently.” And she also included a statement from her own paper’s spokesperson about the inaccuracies that ran in the paper: “We’ve reached out to the vice president’s office for clarification on the numbers.”
As of Friday evening, the Pence op-ed now includes a correction that reads: “An earlier version misattributed the total numbers of personal protective equipment delivered through FEMA to just Project Air Bridge.”
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