We live in an era where even fact checkers require fact checks.
Facebook has partnered with a number of third-party fact checkers due to their commitment “to fighting the spread of misinformation on Facebook.” Once once of Facebook’s independent fact checkers rates a claim false, every page that has shared that information receives a warning, and their page’s traffic can be throttled as punishment.
While plenty of bunk does get refuted by Facebook’s fact checkers, the third-party fact checkers do have their share of purely ideological “fact checks” that they implement.
We have previously documented how Politifact routinely has rated objectively true reporting as false in an attempt to squash conservative narratives. To give just an example at recent claims they rated false:
- In response to the claim that New Jersey and New York have five times as many coronavirus deaths per capita as Florida, the “fact checker” noted that the claim was true, before rating the claim false under the basis that it could change in the future.
- We reported that California has six extra Representatives due to illegals being counted in the Census. The “fact checker” didn’t bother to interact with the data from our source, and instead quoted an anonymous professor as saying that California may have four extra Representatives due to illegals. Our claim was rated “mostly false” when all that was disputed was the extent of how true it was.
- We reported that violent crime in South Bend Indiana doubled under Pete Buttigieg’s tenure as Mayor, and the fact checker said that how violent crime was defined under Buttigieg changed. The fact checker then did no actual work to quantify what the adjusted numbers would look like (presumably because he doesn’t know how). His reasoning for rating the claim false effectively amounted to “crime went up a lot – but it probably didn’t double.”
This time a claim repeated in an article by our staff writer Jeremy Frankel was rated false by one of Facebook’s fact checker “Lead Stories.” And as usual, the claim was true.
Jeremy wrote about Nancy Pelosi admitting that China would prefer Joe Biden be president, which isn’t even a personal opinion of Pelosi, but a repeat of what the intelligence community has stated. Jeremy quotes the relevant part of that report from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center in his article: “We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”
He then quotes Pelosi as saying to Dana Bash: “[T]he Chinese… what they said is [that] China would prefer [Biden]. Whether they do, that’s their conclusion. That they would prefer Joe Biden.”
This information was initially reported by the National Pulse – and because we quoted their reporting, we were also flagged as part of the “fact check.”
You can watch the video below:
"China would prefer Joe Biden." – Nancy Pelosi pic.twitter.com/gI1RHmFNOu
— Francis Brennan (@FrancisBrennan) August 9, 2020
So how in the world is this “false”? To start, the alleged fact checker Sarah Thompson over at Lead Stories (which recently announced a partnership with the CCP-linked TikTok) basically just attempts to fact check the National Pulse’s headline “WATCH: Pelosi Confirms China Would Prefer Joe Biden“:
A short video clip from Pelosi’s August 9, 2020, appearance on CNN’s State of the Union show was edited to omit the context of Pelosi’s words to give the false impression that it was Speaker Pelosi’s belief.
Or in other words, Thompson is saying it’s false to say that Pelosi said China would prefer a Biden presidency, because Pelosi is acknowledging an intelligence report stating that China would prefer a Biden presidency. You can’t make this stuff up.
Thompson then provides additional context to Pelosi’s comments in that exchange that don’t actually change anything. In fact, all the additional “context” does it show Pelosi attempting to deflect attention away from China’s opposition to Trump by arguing that election meddling by Russia is worse (you can read that transcript here).
Thompson then hilariously tries to argue that because the intelligence report doesn’t explicitly state that China wants Biden to win, but rather that they want Trump to lose, that the Chinese thus aren’t endorsing Biden (does she think they’re voting third party?). This comes just paragraphs after we were told that it’s false to report that Pelosi is saying the quiet part out loud and claiming that China would prefer Biden become president, because it was an intelligence report that made the claim first.
I’d again say “you can’t make this stuff up” – but it seems that Thompson indeed doesn’t have any problem making stuff up.