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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 11-20 of 21

  • Debbie Eakman

    11/23/2021 01:41 PM

    MIC DROP!!! Thank you Mike for always reporting without bias!

  • Bo Ehrig

    11/23/2021 12:56 PM

    Thank you for this post. I sent it to my liberal friend who every time we debate he goes to the fact checkers. I have told him they are false until I am blue in the face. But this is not coming from me.
    I hope he wakes up one day.
    He is a fence sitter who will not make a stand. I tell him he is like the Laodicean Church and Jesus will vomit hm out of His mouth.
    I hope this helps.
    Thank You

  • James Paul Thompson

    11/23/2021 12:46 PM

    My first reaction was feeling negative about this woman's ejection from the game, by staff, for wearing the "Let's Go Brandon". Reading here that the ejection occurred due to her use of foul language, and gestures, to those around her, along with staff, made it seem more likely and OK. I don't plan to buy this t-shirt due to what I understand it's "really saying". That does not mean I have a love for all going on now, for the last 10+ months, by the current "regime" running our country. As a USMC vet, I support free speech, the second amendment, and freedom! Thus, if she got kicked out for the t-shirt that would be absolutely wrong, but if she was cussing people out and had been warned to stop it, I say get her out of there so I can enjoy the players and team I came to see.

  • STEVEN NIXON

    11/23/2021 12:40 PM

    Thank you for your newsletters! Well aware that the fact-checkers were a joke but this article was very revealing!

  • David Lash

    11/23/2021 12:33 PM

    Interesting note regarding politically charged t-shirts: while leftists are triggered by Let's Go Brandon attire (really dumb message IMHO!) they are not too concerned about how their messages may trigger normal folks. Saturday night in an upscale cocktail bar, I observed a young woman wearing a white t-shirt with the words "F**K KYLE" (asterisks are mine) emblazoned across the chest in large bold letters. My first thought was that she was getting even with her ex named Kyle, but then it dawned on me that she was opining on the Rittenhouse trial and the obviously righteous verdict. I pray that God may bless her at some point with a smidgen of common sense and decency!

  • Jerry Korba

    11/23/2021 12:22 PM

    Having people not understanding words in proper formation is a reason to walk away after I have them explain what they really want to say. People spin words into sentences that are not true but are spun to reflect their view. I enjoy making corrections with the words they use to make the statement correct or true. One of the many traits Dems have that are just creepy ugly and not good for a civil and fun society. The elites just call themselves a BORE. I call them STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rocco DeCarlo

    11/23/2021 11:58 AM

    Governor, I am so disappointed with our mainstream media I could scream. I have stop watching the news and only read your’s and few other news related emails. I am convinced, if Nixon was a Democrat today, Watergate would never have been investigated. Our current President has a resume of deceit, corruption and profit in addition to medical issues and yet the media has given him a pass.

  • Alan Martino

    11/23/2021 11:54 AM

    Have been a follower of you for years and enjoy your show on TBN every Saturday. There is an old Christian hymn titled "He" that I believe we used to sing in the Baptist Church, which I have been trying to find the words and music to. I tried to email Chris at your website, but for some reason, my emails are not received. If you are familiar with this timeless Christian hymn, perhaps you can feature the words in one of your daily newsletters which I subscribe to. God bless you, your family, and all those you are associated with. BTW: I live in FL, but if I lived in Arkansas, I'd be voting for Sarah. Keep up your good works. You are much appreciated.

  • Dale Baker

    11/23/2021 11:39 AM

    Facebook fact checkers sent me a warning about violating their community standards because I shared a post (advertisement) for over the thigh socks. The model was wearing them over slacks. I liked to socks enough to share the post. Trouble is, they told me 2 years after I shared it. Apparently socks are taboo.

  • dave allen

    11/23/2021 11:36 AM

    wow. they even admit that their goal is to "elevate storytelling". obviously that's the ONLY thing they are trained to do. :-(