The Hopelessly Partisan Impartiality of Fact Checkers
Whenever anyone claims they are offering the "correct" perspective of the facts in a political context, you should be highly suspicious. Cynical, even. Aspiring to the "correct" version or opinion is something the Communist Party of China and their fans in Academia require and mandate you to do. "Fact checking" is, sadly, an old suppression tactic Orwell satirized, albeit under a new name. "Watchdog" groups have been doing it against each other for decades. What's new is the Soviet "disinformation" trope.
Is it "bizarre"? Was a speech "rambling"? Is the person vilified as partisan? It is a "conspiracy theory"? Do anonymous "experts" give "authority" to what the author wants you to believe? Welcome to Soviet Russia, where the Politbureau distributes the "correct" dogma to counter enemies who wish to "sow discord" with "misinformation" about the regime. There was no failure at Chernobyl.
Snopes: It's Not Terrorism If We Sympathise With It
Although Snopes is somewhat the target of ridicule after attempting to "debunk" satire - because we are too stupid and must be assisted in grasping humour - they have a rather interesting entry on a particular individual from the 60s.
Before we look at it, let's understand a bit about who she was. On page 31 of this FBI report (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/120257NCJRS.pdf), it says the following:
"On November 29, 1984, Susan Lisa Rosenberg and Timothy A. Blunk, reputed members of the May 19th Communist Organization (M19CO), a Marxist-Leninist group which openly advocates the overthrow of the U.S. Government through armed struggle and the use of violence, were arrested by local authorities in New Jersey. Rosenberg and Blunk were subsequently indicted on Federal firearms and illegal possession and transportation of explosive charges. They were held in lieu of $1 million and $500,000 bonds, respectively. (See Terrorist Related Activities Section, page 36)"
Politico did a long piece about America's first female terrorist group which might start to sound familiar:
"They had spent their entire adult lives engaged in intense left-wing political activism and had progressed steadily from protest to violent extremism. And like many other members of the so-called Generation of 1968—a worldwide youthful cohort that embraced revolution, drugs, rock music and rebellion with equal enthusiasm—they were well-educated products of the middle classes. With the purported science of Marxism-Leninism as their guide, they believed they could bend the arc of history and usher in a new world free from injustice and oppression."
Rosenberg was caught in 1984 loading 700lbs of explosives into a bin in New Jersey. She was charged with transporting them “with intent to kill and injure.” As the National Review says:
"She asked the court to give her the maximum sentence–the better for revolutionary ferment–and got it: 58 years, for weapons possession and conspiracy. No punishment had ever been so severe in such a case. Satisifed, prosecutors declined to pursue charges relating to the Brink’s murders and the other crimes."
It's clear, isn't it? Very, very simple to understand. They wanted to charge her with more, but she already got 60 years.
Now let's take a look at how Snopes "framed" this enquiry:
"In the absence of a single, universally-agreed definition of "terrorism," it is a matter of subjective determination as to whether the actions for which Rosenberg was convicted and imprisoned — possession of weapons and hundreds of pounds of explosives — should be described as acts of "domestic terrorism."
So, she definitely is a director of a board, and she was involved in illegal activities for left-wing movements. But the problem is... wait for it... it depends on who she was involved with, why, and how you define terrorism.
No, it doesn't. The FBI does that perfectly well.
It is an absolutely grotesque and cynical evasion you'd expect from a student in school or a four year-old who stole candy. There is nothing whatsoever in Rosenberg's case which is subjective or even remotely ambiguous.
The propagandizing Snopes is doing here is remarkably clear. The writer is aware the claim would be injurious to BLM and is attempting to play language games to run defense for a partisan political group, by actively removing the context of her conviction. This is spin, and not "fact". The supposed "credibility" of "objective" so-called "fact" checking is being abused and hijacked.
The message is: it may not be terrorism if it's for social justice, even if the FBI disagrees. No political moderate would agree with that.
The author was Dan McGuill, an Irish philosophy grad, whose entire literary canon of "fact checking" seems to be "debunking" one side's claims in favour on the other: https://www.snopes.com/author/danmacguill/page/3/. A quick check on Dan's Twitter makes his political views very clear indeed, and it turns out, Dan has got himself noticed several times before for not exactly being impartial:
"In other words, MacGuill offered a subjective -- and speculative -- interpretation of events and the one most favorable to the owner of the Red Hen. The bottom line is that while Snopes doesn’t fact-check editorials, it does editorialize."
On Snopes' personnel page (https://www.snopes.com/snopes-staff/) the following is printed prominently to draw attention:
"Note: Members of our editorial staff are precluded from donating to, or participating in, political campaigns, political party activities, or political advocacy organizations."
Which is a cleverly-worded weasel statement, because it makes no mention of a requirement of investigators to behave impartially, or suffer sanctions for behaving with partiality. The omission is what gives it away, and allows for the culprit to say it was "inferred".
You're not allowed to be a member of something official under your real name, but you, yourself, are permitted political partisanship (presumably under a 1A argument). You, the individual, can editorialise the crap out of something you want to dispute.
The message? It's not terrorism if the perpetrators are aligned with your beliefs and their behaviour could discredit them.
USA Today: They Weren't Our People If It's Embarrassing
Slavery caused the American Civil War, right? Wouldn't it be easy if it were just as simple as the incredibly enlightened people in coastal US cities were forced to defend themselves from ignorant, bible-bashing southerners who were rural racist hicks?
USA Today's mental gymnastics when publishing this "fact check" go beyond parody, as evidenced by the title of the article against its main sub-headline:
"Democratic Party did not found the KKK, did not start the Civil War"
"A faction of the Democratic Party started the Civil War"
"The KKK was founded by Democrats, but not the party"
The Civil War was fought for a lot of reasons, but it was predominantly about industry. The north was wealthy and industrial, and the south was poorer and agricultural; one was using machines, the other was using slaves: what the north was proposing was the decimation of the slower south's economy - which it achieved for over 100 years afterwards. Slavery is a moral horror, but it wasn't the only horror: the lack of any alternative meant devastation.
It's an old trick: skew the claim, in order to make it, and the supporting evidence, all seem ridiculous together; tarnish the branches to poison the fruit.
The partiality is so naked it barely registers with the author:
"Princeton University Edwards Professor of American History Tera Hunter told USA TODAY that this trope is a fallback argument used to discredit current Democratic Party policies."
Where is any of that important when it comes to historical fact? Clearly the democratic party did not start the Civil War. It's the second part which is the problem; that damned KKK issue.
The History Channel is fairly informative, but manages to skirt the issue.
"Founded in 1865, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for Black Americans. Its members waged an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and Black Republican leaders. Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal–the reestablishment of white supremacy–fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s."
So it was a vehicle for opposing pro-Black Republican policies, terrorized Republicans, had a goal of Democratic victories, and re-established the Democratic party. But that doesn't mean it was Democratic. Why quibble over a fact when you can slice it into semantics to evade the inevitable conclusion?
Our anonymous "experts" surface again for defense:
"The KKK is almost a paramilitary organization that’s trying to benefit one party. It syncs up with the Democratic Party, which really was a racist party openly at the time,” Grinspan said. “But the KKK isn’t the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party isn’t the KKK.”
What do you call something that syncs with you, benefits you, and is formed from your own members, exactly?
The article's author, Devon Link, yet again, has a virtual library of articles attacking Trump, QAnon, and anyone criticizing the Democratic Party. The remainder are articles defending Democrats. One is a "fact check" over whether Lady Gaga is a witch.
The message? It wasn't us, but if it looks like it, it wasn't just us, you know.
The article couldn't be any stupider:
"Instagram user @snowflake.tears has not returned USA TODAY’s request for comment."
CNN: All These Facts In Our Own Article Are Untrue, Which Proves It's Untrue
Wait, of course it can get stupider. CNN. The network which is to news what vomit is to food. Of all the editorialising, rhetoric-spamming apologists, it has to take the prize for some of the worst reporting known to man.
It's "debunking" of suspicions around the voting system providing a Dem victory is a real beauty:
"Facts first: None of this is true. Dominion has no corporate ties with Venezuela, the Clinton Foundation or Soros."
Sadly, as the same article states a little further down, according to its own author, it kinda, erm, there is a bit of a connection to Venezuela. Dominion and Smartmatic aren't the same, but they have a history: Dominion bought the technology of their subsidary, Sequoia Voting Systems.
"Smartmatic was founded in Florida by two Venezuelans, and did provide election technology to the Venezuelan government."
"And while the chairman of the board of Smartmatic’s parent company is also on the board of a foundation run by Soros, ..."
And the Clinton Foundation.
"While Dominion did agree to donate its technology to “emerging democracies” as part of a program run by the Clinton Foundation in 2014, ..."
So the other company might connections to that, but the first one doesn't. Apart from them having published press releases separately saying they do. So the whole thing is bogus. A "disinformation" campaign.
It even came with a free cut-out-n-keep poster.
The Soros trope is anti-Semitic garbage, and the Clinton body count theory is almost slightly less preposterous. Just say it. Don't do any of this.
None of this is to mention the sheer hack job CNN did previously of attacking the same company: https://noqreport.com/2020/12/02/why-is-mainstream-media-and-big-tech-blocking-an-old-cnn-report-on-smartmatic/
The authors, Tara Subramaniam and Holmes Lybrand, aren't exactly going to need much analysis regarding their political views. Tara is a rabidly anti-Trump Biden supporter who runs "Student Voice" (who fight for "education justice"), and although slightly more sane, Holmes' CNN history is the resume of an ObamaBro fanboy.
There's no message here, other than we are the official apparatchik division of our political party.
Politifact: Actually, What Our Candidates Offer Is Benign
No organisation is quoted more as an authoritative source than Politifact. Even its name is an homage to what it attempts to be. What spawned from the highly-respected St Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) is now incubated as a non-profit by the Poynter Institute school of Journalism.
In 2019, Poynter nakedly created a McCarthy-style blacklist of 515 websites it wanted advertisers to ban and de-platform - extremely impartial. Sadly, they had to publicly retract it, saying "We regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication."
So when the Republicans run a set of their usual scaremongering campaigns about their enemies turning the country into Venezuela, you'd think it bizarre they needed to run defense on the absurd.
"The sweeping statements, paired with images of protests and a burning flag, are intended to frighten. But the ad distorts the platforms of most Democratic candidates running in the 2018 election."
Does it now?
Among the many claims being "debunked" we find gems like this:
"When Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez use the term [socialism], they are referring to expanding the social programs already available, along with potentially higher tax rates to pay for them. That resonates with the systems in place in Canada or Europe; not Venezuela or Cuba."
AOC is an openly-confessed democratic socialist. Sanders has praised Venezuela and spent his 1988 honeymoon in the USSR. They are not advocating for social democracy. Neither of them seem to even understand the difference between these types of government, or why Denmark isn't socialist when it has private markets.
It moves to healthcare.
"This attack is misleading because Medicare for All doesn’t call for a fully government-run health care system."
Yes, it does. It's in the name. Then, it goes surreal:
"There are no "immediate" tax increases on the horizon."
You can't pay for government expansion without the need for increased tax revenue. But finally it goes right into party recruitment territory.
"The Democratic Party is a tent that houses a wide variety of views. Some candidates are self-proclaimed socialists, but even their platforms don’t fit the narrow definition of traditional socialism. Some, not all, support expansions of Medicare, but that would not qualify as 100 percent government-run health care.
These and other policies may raise taxes, but immediate tax increases are unlikely under a Republican president. The tax increases on the table mostly target the rich and corporations.
And finally, Congressional Democratic leaders have called for a restructuring of ICE, but no candidate has called for undefended open borders.
The ad cherry-picks extreme positions and suggests all Democrats support them. That is false and ridiculous. We rate this statement Pants on Fire."
So, in essence, a lot of what our enemies claim is slightly true. But not that true. A bit true occasionally, but we're awesome and welcome everybody. So that makes it not only factually false, but "ridiculous".
The author , Manuela Tobias, is an Argentinian who went to school in DC for "comparative literature" and reports on "inequality", "systemic racism", with a plethora of pro-DNC articles only defending Democrats and attacking Republicans. It's a shameless catalogue of partisanship from top to bottom, with not even a veneer of impartiality.
The message? The claims made by Republicans are smears on our party's position.
BBC: Look At This Brexit Smear We Will Pretend to Investigate
Now, this one is a truly award-winning episode of Machiavellian language surgery which could only have come from the British Civil Service; those masters of political evasion. How do you use impartiality for promoting partisanship?
The BBC has received a significant percentage of its funding from the European Union. Its presenters, contractually required to behave impartially, openly attack Brexit live on-air. Its entire London staff population are absolutely renowned for being Euro-centric globalist, democratic socialist luvvies. Their mission to scorn, undermine, discredit, and even openly slander the idea of leaving the EU is a relentless traffic jam of passive aggression directed at the "uneducated" public.
What's clever about this is how the writer pretends to be adopting the opposite view, while actually disguising an attack. It's a nonsense story, but choosing to highlight it is a smarmy way of amplifying the prominence of its claims.
"The idea seems to have originated in this article from August 2018 with the headline: "Is this the real reason why Farage and Rees-Mogg want a speedy Brexit?" It was written by two members of Lawyers Against Brexit, who were asked to comment for this piece but have declined to do so."
So we're reporting on what our friends are doing, not featuring their response, and highlighting slanderous claims about two key Brexit figures in the process.
What really gives it away is this:
"The EU's Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive (Atad) is an attempt to make sure companies (especially big digital companies and other multinationals) pay enough tax."
That's a rather favourable interpretation of that specific and incredibly boring law. Sorry, "directive". What is "enough" tax, per se? No, what it does in the name - it aims to stop people avoiding tax. Not evading it, but legally avoiding it. The first is illegal, the latter is not.
In the EU's own words:
"On 20 June 2016 the Council adopted the Directive (EU) 2016/1164 laying down rules against tax avoidance practices that directly affect the functioning of the internal market."
These legal practices include, according to the "Council":
- Controlled foreign company (CFC) rule: to deter profit shifting to a low/no tax country
- Switchover rule: to prevent double non-taxation of certain income
- Exit taxation: to prevent companies from avoiding tax when re-locating assets
- Interest limitation: to discourage artificial debt arrangements designed to minimise taxes
- General anti-abuse rule: to counteract aggressive tax planning when other rules don’t apply
ATAD is a grotesque, Orwellian regime which supersedes national legislation and introduces an absurd level of regulation inferring what companies "should" pay. It's not a "benign" or helpful idea which has good intent. It's aim is to impose its own rules on its member countries in order they have more money to pay the EU, despite not having the right to do so.
And you'd love that if you believe in collectivist policies which tax people to pay for government services, as democratic socialists do. A bit like the BBC "license" fee.
Interestingly, there's no author credited for the article. Also interestingly, we have the mention, again, of anonymous "experts". The argument here is the same as has been screeched for five years: rich Tories are pursuing Brexit for their own financial gain. It's been the same tireless accusation made by London Labour champagne socialists since 2016 to discredit a democratic vote which went against them.
The message? EU good, rich Tories bad.
FactCheck.org: How You Talk About Science Determines Whether It's True
It might do a better job than the rest, but it's going south, fast. FactCheck.org is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, which was created in 1993 by the Annenberg Foundation. It is based at the University of Pennsylvania. The tattered and dubious history behind it is a fascinating read: https://capitalresearch.org/article/dishonest-fact-checkers/.
Whether we like it or not, mask-wearing is a political issue: collectivist demands vs individual liberty.
In what is an utterly-bizarre take on a scientific paper, FactCheck's analysis of how science is done is a true lesson in postmodern abstraction and evasion. The article goes into enormous length and detail to prove its own claims, which in itself is a giveaway.
"Q: Did a recent study in Denmark show that face masks are useless for COVID-19?
A: No. The study found that face masks did not have a large protective effect for wearers — not that masks provide no protection at all or don’t offer benefits to others."
What's immediately clear is its author set out to prove their own pre-ordained conclusion. Which differs from the study's conclusion:
"The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection."
No study is infallible, but the Scientific Method is quite simple. It's difficult to spin evidence. The data is in: masks did not reduce infection rates. Which makes perfect sense, because masks don't protect against viruses too small for them to contain.
What is the name for something that doesn't have a "large" protective effect and/or little-to-no or uncertain effectiveness? Something which would render it without a legitimate use?
The entire post is a twisted world of language games intended to skirt the simple data: it didn't say it has no effect; it says it doesn't have a big effect, and that's not the same. Bullshit. The study says it quite clearly. It's not a political issue. Throughout, the "villains" spreading the "disinformation" are Republican (e.g. Ron Paul), and the "experts" are a Chinese scientist based in Hong Kong, a left-leaning think tank named "Resolve to Save Lives", and 2 scientists who criticised things during peer review the paper itself conceded within its own publication - something to be commended, not used to discredit it.
Quoting the study leader's opinion from Forbes, it says we should all wear masks anyway, just in case.
Not surprisingly, the cat lady author of this Orwellian garbage masquerading as scientific critique, Jessica McDonald, has a whole rosta of anti-Trump, anti-voter fraud articles. Despite having an immunology PhD from Yale (oh dear), she seems completely obsessed with Trump and unable to write about much else. Only academics can be this stupid to miss the larger point.
The message? Don't try and use science against our political cause.
Washington Post: The Guy We Hate Has Told 20,000 Lies
The Washington Post has never endorsed a Republican candidate. Not this decade. In its entire history. It has only ever endorsed candidates from one party. So it doesn't come as a surprise when the newspaper who never endorse candidates from any other party produce a "fact check" which tends to that side.
You don't really know where to start here. The paper itself is making a dubious claim it has actually counted every time Trump has said anything:
"In 1,372 days, President Trump has made 26,548 false or misleading claims The Fact Checker’s ongoing database of the false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office."
Now, let's not pretend Trump is a friend of straight honesty; his tendency to embellish, misrepresent, abstract, conflate, guess, and mislead, is legendary. His rhetoric is basically a patriotic call to arms for American Exceptionalism. It has little correlation to journalistic accuracy.
One human, 26,548 times? And they counted them all? And funded an entire database being developed for it? Really?
The idea itself is preposterous.
Well, it turns out, no. As the number itself is deceptively put together from "repetitions" to increase it, and the "fact checks" are made on rhetoric and opinion. As right-leaning RealClearPolitics noted:
"The problem is that any cursory inspection of the Post database reveals that the idea that Trump has told 20,000 “false or misleading” statements is itself false and misleading. Vast quantities of the 20,000 are redundancies – statements, however tendentious, that Trump has repeated ad nauseum. More problematic is that thousands of statements The Washington Post labels as untrue or misleading are more properly considered the habitual verbal excess for a man known for his immoderate form of communication. Further, a great many of the Post’s objections to Trump’s statements amount to argumentative quibbles that aren’t really “fact checks.”
Just to start, here’s one of Trump’s most oft-repeated “lies,” according to Washington Post fact checkers: “My job was made harder by phony witch hunts, by ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ nonsense.” The Post dings Trump for some variation of this claim 227 times – more than 1% of Trump’s alleged untruths. Yet, the Post’s justification for why Trump is wrong to say this is pure pettifogging."
The Post's "fact check" section is run by Glenn Kessler, one this dubious discipline's so-called "pioneers", but also a serious journalist with a credible record. And his new book "Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President's Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies" must surely rate as one of the most impartial tomes of modern times, next to his vast collection of missing, non-existent books on Democrats who also lie relentlessly.
If nothing else, the Post has to be commended for not pretending to be impartial.
The message? We hate that other party.
Climate Feedback: Science Is What We Agree With Politically
Ah, climate "change". That wonderful environmentalist apocalypse which wasn't punchy enough when called Global Warming, but only ever seems to be solved by global governance and the inevitable re-ascension of, ahem, international Star Trek communism. No right-wing solution to "climate change" seems to have any credibility. And only a collectivist political approach can help.
Does human activity have an effect on the ecosystem? Of course.
But that's not exactly what the environmentalists say; they say industrialisation does. Which is what Marx said. It's capitalism which causes it. Right wing outlets don't do enough on this, but there's a good reason why: they know it's a scientific issue being used as the vehicle of a political cause.
Climate Feedback is a section of non-profit Science Feedback, based in France, and founded in 2015. Each reviewer has a PhD. Which is what it very interesting when someone decides to criticise the orthodoxy, in true Galileo-style - as Michael Shellenberger got "cancelled" for in Forbes, entitled "On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare":
"Shellenberger also claims that “Humans are not causing a ‘sixth mass extinction’”. This categorical statement misrepresents the discussion happening in the scientific community. Scientific evidence clearly shows that human activities are driving global species extinctions, and these extinctions are expected to accelerate with continued global warming."
This specific type of fact-checking is highly sophisticated dishonesty, and deeply nefarious. Shellenberger was politically hounded for it.
What he actually claimed was more interesting, which is probably why the article - and his apology for it - were removed:
"In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism.
The news media have been making apocalyptic pronouncements about climate change since the late 1980s, and do not seem disposed to stop.
The ideology behind environmental alarmsim — Malthusianism — has been repeatedly debunked for 200 years and yet is more powerful than ever.
"Malthusianism is the idea that population growth is potentially exponential while the growth of the food supply or other resources is linear, which eventually reduces living standards to the point of triggering a population die off. It derives from the political and economic thought of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, as laid out in his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population."
Four principles are extremely important here:
- Science is not a democracy, and
- Scientists have opinions, as well as data, and
- Academia skews in one direction overwhelmingly, and
- Scientists are often horribly, horribly wrong - en masse.
The best example of this can be found in John Oliver's skit about the "97% consensus" among scientists: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/may/23/john-oliver-best-climate-debate-ever
The sad thing is science has nothing to do with consensus whatsoever. It is not decided by democratic vote or people's opinions. It is decided solely on hard data and evidence, which is falsifiable and supports a hypothesis. 97% scientists agreeing does not mean a thing. In Galileo's time, academics all agreed the sun orbited the earth; in 1957, they agreed Thalidomide was useful in pregnancy.
If there are 100 scientists in a room and 99 agree, but 1 can prove their claim empirically, the 1 wins. It is not a consensus vote on what people "believe" or take on "faith".
The "reviewers" of the original article are:
- a climate change lobbying organisation
- a Welsh professor specialising in climate change wildfires
- a climate change researcher from UCLA
- a Mexican ecology professor obsessed with human extinction
- a climate change think tank researcher
- an activist professor of atmospheric sciences
- another activist professor of atmospheric sciences
In other words, this "fact check" constituted lining a scientist up against a firing squad of people he was criticising for groupthink, and asking the group what they thought. It's more akin to a cable news segment than actual science.
Shellenberger wrote a book whose central message as a scientist is climate science is a crock, scientists are full of shit, and the whole thing is convoluted mess of special interests heisting cash.
Climate Feedback's "fact check" is an editorial asking those scientists what they say as a rebuttal. What exactly are they going to say? It's not a "fact check" in any sense of the term.
The environmentalists had finally found someone the Right could work with. Which tells you everything about what happened next.