This May Be the Media’s Dumbest “Fact Check” Yet
Once again the fact checkers are proving that they need to be fact checked by other fact checkers. And given the media’s track record, those fact checking fact checkers will probably need to be fact checked themselves.
Throughout the Trump presidency the media has been using supposed “fact checks” as a Trojan Horse to attack Republicans, as once something is “fact checked” by them, the issue is treated as settled. The Washington Post famously has a running rally claiming that President Trump has made 20,000+ false statements during his presidency. One such example of Trump’s lies includes his statement that “my job was made harder by phony witch hunts, by ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ nonsense.” This true statement and variants of it account for at least 227 of the “lies” on their list, or over 1% of the total “lies.” Jokes and examples of obvious hyperbole also dominate the list.
Even objectively true statements aren’t safe from the fact checkers. Politifact fact-checked the claim that “Florida is doing over five times better than New Jersey and New York in COVID-19 deaths per million people” by acknowledging that the claim was 100% true at the time of writing, but say that things could change in the future, so they rated it “mostly-false.”
Arguably my favorite “fact check” of all time came from the Mercury News, who fact-checked Trump’s obviously-not-literal claim that if you stacked up the 1,000 burgers he bought to cater an event at the White House, they’d pile up “a mile high.” “FACT CHECK: At two inches each, a thousand burgers would not reach one mile high” the fact checker who doesn’t understand the concept of hyperbole informed us.
The conclusions of these sort of “fact checkers” are determined before they even do a second of research into the claim they’re examining (assuming they do any research at all), and such was the case recently as the Associated Press, who decided to provide cover for the Biden campaign.
The claim they were fact-checking was the following: When former KKK Grand Wizard Robert Byrd died in 2010, he was eulogized by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Their assessment was that the claim was “Partly false. Biden did eulogize Sen. Robert C. Byrd when he died, but Byrd was not a “grand wizard” in the Ku Klux Klan. He was a member of the KKK in the early 1940s but later renounced his affiliation with the hate group.”
Why the claim was rated “partly false” didn’t have to do with Byrd’s later renunciation of the group, but because he didn’t hold the title of “Grand Wizard” within the organization. “As a young man in West Virginia, Byrd recruited members to a local KKK chapter and was elected to the post of ‘exalted cyclops’ according to his 2005 autobiography,” the Press informs us.
Well, thank God they cleared that up. Amazingly, USA Today tried to provide the same defense earlier in the year.
That was a completely pointless “fact check” that didn’t fact check anything, but it did allow the AP to publish an article with the headline “Biden did not eulogize former KKK ‘grand wizard'” that they can post on social media knowing that 90%+ of their followers won’t bother to read past the headline. Or maybe they just think poorly of their own readers’ intelligence.