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November 23, 2021
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When we talk here about so-called fact-checkers, such as PolitiFact, we typically put quotations around the word “fact.” That’s because when it comes to politics, these websites often select their “facts” carefully, leaving out or shading information that is inconvenient, and sometimes even manufacturing it as needed –- all while accusing others of doing just that –- to “debunk” a claim and support a different narrative. When they can’t make that happen, they’ll sometimes borrow a skill often used in court or on the debate stage: change the original assertion so they can argue against their preferred one instead.

The people who work this way are not fact-checkers but advocates, or, to use the vernacular, hacks.

PolitiFact, created in 2008 to cover that year’s presidential election, became part of the Poynter Institute in 2018. The Poynter Institute trains journalists –- yes, believe it or not, they get training! –- and we would venture to say that the state of journalism today does not speak well of their performance in this area. The line between news reporting and opinion writing is now as meaningless as the border between Mexico and Texas.

The Poynter Institute also includes the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which is “dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide.”

https://www.poynter.org/ifcn/

More than 60 fact-checking organizations on six continents participate in IFCN’s work and sharing of “best practices,” and more than 30 organizations have passed the vetting process to become signatories to its Code of Principles for Fact-Checkers. Given some of the fact-checks we’ve seen from PolitiFact, that is indeed a scary thought.

Oh, but wait –- they’ve won the Pulitzer. Yes, and so did The New York Times and the Washington Post for their wildly inaccurate coverage of Trump-Russian “collusion” fantasies. I guess if those newspapers can win a Pulitzer for their misreporting and the Academy Award for Best Original Song can go to “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” then this bunch can have a Pulitzer, too.

“Each year, Poynter trains over 100,000 journalists from more than 70 countries in person and online...in virtually every country in the world.” That should keep you up at night. They’re very proud of their reputation, they say. A few of the news organizations that hire Poynter include National Public Radio, NBC News, Newsweek, and the Washington Post.

Click on “Support for Content & Training to Strengthen Media Literacy,” and you’ll find such groups as The Democracy Fund, Facebook (“Helping MediaWise and PolitiFact in the fight against mis- and disinformation to help people sort fact from fiction online”), Google, Microsoft, and TikTok (“Helping PolitiFact continue to fact-check elected officials and hold government officials accountable”).

https://www.poynter.org/poynter-thought-leader/

“Founded in 1975,” their website says, “Poynter is an inspirational place but also a practical one, connecting the varied crafts of journalism to its higher mission and purpose. From person-to-person coaching and intensive hands-on seminars to interactive online courses and media reporting, Poynter helps journalists sharpen skills and elevate storytelling throughout their careers.” They “explore the intersection of journalism, technology and the public interest.”

The reason why we wanted to examine this is that Dan Bongino called attention to a so-called fact-check from Politifact that is really quite shameful, supposedly debunking something President Trump said in a media briefing on August 31, 2020, soon after Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested for killing two and injuring one in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Their verdict: “Trump paints false picture of Kyle Rittenhouse shootings ahead of Kenosha visit.”

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/sep/01/donald-trump/trump-paints-false-picture-kyle-rittenhouse-shooti/

Trump had said the video showed Rittenhouse “was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like...fell, and then they very violently attacked him.”

Now, if you watched the trial this month, you saw that video over and over, many times. It showed that Rittenhouse was trying to get away from them, fell, and then they very violently attacked him.

Yes, PolitiFact said, Rittenhouse “tripped and fell as a group of people pursued him on the night he allegedly killed two protesters and injured a third.” But, they said, Trump left out “vital context”: that “Rittenhouse ran away after PROSECUTORS SAY [emphasis mine] he had already shot and killed someone.”

“The President correctly describes some minor details about that night,” PolitiFact said. “But, overall, his comments grossly mischaracterize what happened –- leaving out that by the time of the events he described, prosecutors say Rittenhouse had already shot and killed a man.”

What??

PolitiFact also concluded that since Rittenhouse had already been arrested and charged with homicide, Trump was wrong to say the matter was “under investigation.” Note: an incident doesn’t stop being investigated just because charges have been filed.

“Rittenhouse did fall as a crowd followed him, but Trump’s comments leave an incendiary and false picture,” PolitiFact said. “By the time he fell, according to criminal charges, Rittenhouse had already shot and killed one man that night. We rate [Trump’s] claim FALSE.”

Well, because they accepted as true the prosecutor’s version of events, which turned out to be false, we rate PolitiFact’s fact-checking FALSE, and it’s not the first time. How wonderful that the Poynter Institute is training fact-checkers all over the world, with the help of Facebook and TikTok.

Derek Hunter at Townhall has a great opinion piece --- notice we say “opinion” --- about the outrageous media misconduct concerning the Rittenhouse case.

https://townhall.com/columnists/derekhunter/2021/11/21/a-special-kind-of-stupid-media-and-the-kyle-rittenhouse-case-n2599418

As a palate-cleanser, we’d like to show you a case in which a conservative site got the fact-checking right in debunking a story, even though that story might have fed a more conservative narrative.

https://www.conservativereview.com/fact-check-was-a-woman-kicked-out-of-a-hockey-game-for-wearing-a-lets-go-brandon-shirt

A video on Facebook had showed what appeared to be a woman being kicked out of a Wichita Thunder hockey game on November 5 for wearing a “Let’s Go Brandon” T-shirt.

“Check Your Fact” at Conservative Review looked into this and learned that the woman was escorted out of the arena by security after “she was using extremely profane language and gestures toward our staff and those around her,” according to a statement from the team. She was part of a group who were all wearing “Brandon” shirts, and she was the only one who had to leave.

This fact-check was objective, reasonable, non-political, “just the facts.” Maybe contributor Mecca Fowler, who wrote it, should be the one training all those legions of fact-checkers around the world, This example shows that at least somebody knows how to do it right.

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Comments 1-10 of 21

  • Pamela Williams

    11/24/2021 09:13 AM

    Basically my brother in the Lord Gov. Mike, the only facts we know to be true are from the Word of God and those who support it. In the United States (and many other parts of the world including every lying person of every persuasion particularly politicians, present company excluded Gov.) the word "FACT" has no meaning. It isn't a fact, it is a word used to give credibility to the lies that person wants to be accepted, shoved down the throat of opponents, or a way of hiding what they are actually doing. Because to do otherwise would guarantee their defeat at the next election. The "FACT" lie has invaded every sector of society including and particularly "free speech" which has been proved to no longer be free. America has been under siege for 75 years. That siege is now open, frontal and in your face, deceiving several generations driving us all into an updated version of the 1930's. Almighty God has had enough of American lies, disdain for Him and outright support of every kind of evil. Our days are numbered unless we repent. If God did not spare Sodom and Gomorrah, He will not spare us! Blessings and thank you for what you do!

  • Richard West

    11/23/2021 07:36 PM

    It occurred to me that Politihack, prosecutorhacks and liberal journalist hacks all have one think in common. They are all morally corrupt! To lie is completely acceptable as non of these and many others care not about doing the job they were hired to do, they only care about their desired outcome which seems to be the destruction of this great country.

  • Bob Janovick

    11/23/2021 07:18 PM

    I often illustrate lying - - - while using true statements.

    My birthday is in January. If I live, I will be 88 in January.

    Both statements are 100% true. But, I left out a third true statement.
    If you don't know me, you think that I am 87. I am not. But IF . . . if I live several more years, I WILL BE 88 years old - - - in January.
    (This is a great way to get others to say, 'You look Good (!) for your age.)
    The media are experts at using this technique to further their narrative.

  • Glenda Stephenson

    11/23/2021 04:58 PM

    "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
    10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Facebook has said that this photo contains false information and has covered it. As it said: Fact-Check from Lead Stories"

    Facebook covered my post and this is why the said they did so:
    *The same false information was checked in another post by fact-checkers.
    *There may be small differences.
    Independent fact-checkers say this information has no basis in fact.
    *Learn more about how Facebook works with independent fact-checkers to stop the spread of false information.*

    My photo contains:
    1) Sunday blessing
    2) Pink flowers with two birds
    3) The Lord's Prayer
    4) And "Have a Blessed Day"
    I posted the same information without the birds with no problem. Is it possible they have a problem with the creator of the post which have caused it to be blocked as I downloaded this from the internet.

  • Lisa Tate

    11/23/2021 03:07 PM

    Fact checking has become synonymous with “we disagree, and because we disagree, we will remove your posts or comments.”
    After receiving an email from IFA (Intercessors for America) with an article about Luciferase being an ingredient in a “vaccine,” I reposted
    the article on fb. Luciferase is an ingredient that can be traced in the body. Fb immediately took it down because their “fact-checkers” deemed it to be untrue. So, I went to the patent for the jab, and low
    and behold, on page 138 of the 248 page patent is luciferase, a listed ingredient! Selective fact checking?? Absolutely!

  • Ron Stephens

    11/23/2021 03:07 PM

    Governor,

    In my opinion, sometime after Walter Cronkheit, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley journalists came to adopt a different view of themselves. They began to see themselves as "creative" people who were "word artists" equally as good if not better than the best writers of pure fiction. From using language well to engage and keep attention while remaining true to facts, they began to give themselves license to be creative with the facts themselves; just a bit at first. It didn't happen completely and all at once. As with most ethical issues, it was a gradual decline; the smooth downward slope C.S. Lewis mentioned.

    Coupled with shifting attitudes was power to conceal and thus have little or no accountability for truth. The media influence with Vietnam and the taking down of Nixon made a bad situation worse.

    Whatever the bits and pieces, there has been a trend to where we are today; behavior that implies a license to lie has been given. Perhaps in some minds we are well beyond that now and no permissions are needed.

    Anyway, to me the whole mess illustrates what one of the Founding Fathers said about our system of government being wholly inadequate for the governance of a people not religious and moral.

  • Floyd A Unger

    11/23/2021 03:06 PM

    Thank you. It doesn’t matter. Everywhere we look we are under attack….on all fronts and levels.

  • Judith M Seckel

    11/23/2021 02:02 PM

    Now what do we do? Who do we believe?

  • Marshall McCall

    11/23/2021 01:51 PM

    “Fact Checkers” indeed! Personal experience with these folks proves conclusively, to me at least, that “facts” have nothing to do with it. I now call them “Agenda Monitors”.

  • Linda Lively

    11/23/2021 01:49 PM

    Thank you for helping people to know truth from fiction. I am looking up various smaller news websites (mentioned in your articles) in order to learn who they are. This liberal socialist movement and hack media outlets are making it harder to locate the truthful news sites. News outlets are not perfect, but I do expect common sense reporting. If you listen carefully, you can pick out bias words and twisted statements made daily in many of the media...but you have to listen. I listen to you and others such as Victor Davis Hanson, because both of you have proven to be neutral, with much common sense and good reasoning. Thank you again. Linda Lively