That is, a journalist who should have been flogged, was. Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s next iteration of an afactual fact checker, awarded Bernie Sanders Four Pinocchios for this:
“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”
— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), interview in the Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2015
[Added: Historian Mark Roseman, interviewed by Deutsche Welle agrees with Sanders, saying that the Nazis were by far the largest single party.]
Kessler recites the facts that he says proves Sanders is a four Pinocchio liar:
In 1930, the Nazi party won a surprising increase in the number of seats in the Reichstag (Parliament), going from 12 to 107 seats (out of 608), making it the second-largest party.
Hitler…placed a distant second when the elections were held March 13, 1932. Hindenburg received 49.6 percent, just short of a majority to avoid a run-off, compared to 30.1 percent for Hitler.
When the run-off election (with three candidates) took place April 10, Hindenburg received 53 percent and Hitler 36.8 percent.
The new chancellor, Franz von Papen, called for a new Reichstag election in an effort to bolster his position, but the July 31 elections resulted in the Nazis winning 230 seats and 37 percent of the popular vote.
The government fell and yet more elections were held for the Reichstag on Nov. 6. This time, the Nazis lost 34 seats, ending up with 196.
But Hindenburg’s next choice for chancellor also could not form a government. Finally, on Jan. 30, 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor in an effort to break the deadlock.
Hitler then dissolved the Reichstag and called for new elections, set for March 5.
But on Feb. 27, the Reichstag building was burned, with the deep involvement of the Nazis — who then pinned the blame on their main rival, the Communists. Hitler asked Hindenburg for a decree that suspended many civil liberties and gave his government vast powers to crush his opposition. Thousands of people were arrested. Yet even so, with all the propaganda tools of the state at their disposal, the Nazis were still unable to win a majority of the vote March 5, receiving 44 percent.
Dylan Matthews of VOX reams Kessler, pointing out that Germany is a parliamentary democracy. You don’t need a majority, just enough seats to form a government:
Kessler’s argument basically boils down to the fact that when Adolf Hitler personally ran for Reichspresident in 1932, he lost to the incumbent Paul von Hindenburg. But this is obviously not what Sanders was referring to. He was referencing the fact that the Nazi Party, with Hitler as its leader, became the plurality party in the Reichstag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, in July 1932. And though the party lost seats that November, it retained its status as the largest party.
Kessler awarded four Pinocchios to Sanders. That’s the same as calling him a liar.
Lost in all of this was Sanders’ point: Elections matter. Hitler gained power largely through legal means, not by a military coup.
Just as that lover of democracy, Jeff Bezos, got control of the Washington Post through legal means, and is using it to promote an illegal war with Iran and attacks on progressives.
At any rate, Kessler’s readers called him on this. I did not see a single comment supporting him. I hope that people will write to the reader’s representative (firstname.lastname@example.org) and reinforce the message that when a newspaper’s fact-checker has little regard for the truth, it reflects ill upon the institution.
Added: Glenn Kessler does have a little bit of support… from the Hitler was a socialist and so is Bernie Sanders crowd:
6:25 AM MST
history and facts have never been strong subjects for the left.
FYI, Sanders and Hitler were both socialist…so at least they got that in common.
6:14 AM MST
Angry Populists in 1932, angry populists in 2015.
1932: They say “A conspiracy of rich Jewish bankers is the cause of all our problems!”
2015: They say “A conspiracy of rich bankers (many of whom are Jewish) is the cause of all our problems!”
The more things change, the more they stay the same…