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Are “Facts Checkers” Really About Checking Facts?

Quis Costodiet Ipsos Custodies? - Who Guards the fact checking Guards?

by | Jun 30, 2019 | Articles, Media, Politics, The Left

The American political civil war which began in earnest once Donald J. Trump was elected to the presidency has spawned dozens of skirmishes – some are obvious and bloody, and others are taking place surreptitiously behind enemy lines. Wars are rarely fought on the spur of the moment, and it is often the choice of the battlefield that can prove decisive. Thus, today, we have soldiers in the guise of professional “fact-checkers” being deployed to blast reputations and cast aspersions upon the conservative media. The hope is to stick the bayonet in, twist it, and pray for a long, slow death. Such is the case with Media Bias/FactCheck – a website that engages in reputational assassination as part of a larger campaign to undermine and ultimately destroy the many and varied voices of the conservative movement.

Making Facts Matter

At Liberty Nation, we aim to provide top news and analysis without the spin. All our articles, podcasts, TV programs, and radio shows go through a rigorous editorial process where the driving ethos echoes President Ronald Reagan’s old Russian proverb: Trust but Verify.

LN sources are carefully checked, and links are provided to bolster any facts that may need verification. On Christmas Day 2017, we published the Media Bias/FactCheck review of our site. Here’s what they had to say:

“In review, Liberty Nation produces articles and information that strongly favors conservative politics. There is low to moderate use of loaded language that favors the right. Liberty Nation sources their information to credible sources, and in general, the articles are very well written. Overall, we rate Liberty Nation Right Biased based on story selection and High for factual reporting due to proper sourcing of information.”

Fast forward to 2019, and now it seems all our stellar sourcing and attention to the facts have been thrown into the political dumpster. Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC), the self-styled “most comprehensive media bias resource on the internet,” now alleges we are engaged in writing “propaganda.”

“In review, Liberty Nation produces articles and information that strongly favors conservative politics. There is moderate use of loaded language that favors the right such as this: DEMS ON SOCIALISM: IGNORANCE AND ANGER. Liberty Nation utilizes poor sources that are on our questionable list such as CNS News, which has a very poor track record with fact checkers. In general, all stories favor the right and are highly opinion based (propaganda).”

Fake changing to fact with wooden cubes. ( 3d render )

I’m sure the folks over at CNS News will be glad to hear that they are nothing more than a “questionable source.” Founded by L. Brent Bozell, CNS has long been regarded as one of the top sources of conservative news in the country and plays host to some of the most respected conservative writers of our time.

While Liberty Nation is not so thin-skinned as to take offense at media catcalling, it’s still worthwhile to point out some obvious flaws in the Media Bias/Fact Check modus operandi.

The founder and owner, David Van Zandt, set up the site in 2015. Is Mr. Van Zandt a journalist himself? Well, no. According to the fact-checking website, this self-styled arbiter of all things real or fake completed a “Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry.”

What? The health care industry?

But Surely …

But surely, Mr. Van Zandt has a team of experts to evaluate the veracity of news sources? Well, maybe not. Media Bias touts a mix of graduate students and chartered accountants, who appear to make up its frontline.

But surely, this team uses an unbiased, scientific methodology to determine who gets placed in the naughty seat? From the organization’s About page:

“Disclaimer: The methodology used by Media Bias Fact Check is our own. It is not a tested scientific method. It is meant as a simple guide for people to get an idea of a source’s bias.”

Blind Trust

Declaring a news outlet “poorly sourced” because other fact checkers claim it so is not fact-checking: It is repetition in an echo chamber. While the motivation behind MBFC may be a noble one – after all, who wants to read fake news? – this seven-degrees-of-separation methodology is open to abuse.

There is something sinister going on here: The discrediting of news outlets is part of a larger scheme to control the flow of information to a voting public; it is politically motivated and underhanded. By first declaring a news source questionable, these sites give tacit permission for other so-called fact checkers to jump on the bandwagon. Then, when tech giants are encouraged to limit the spread of “fake news,” they head straight to the lists produced by companies and organizations like MBFC.

These “questionable” sites can then be blocked, shadow banned, or demonetized. Yes, victory on the battlefield is claimed. What we are witnessing is nothing less than political warfare for the hearts, souls, and minds of America’s free thinkers. It’s time to call the fact-checkers to account, call them out, and call them what they are: a bunch of political partisans.

We face today the very dangers cautioned by Roman poet Juvenal in his work Satires: Quis Costodiet Ipsos Custodies? When unwanted and uninvited fact checkers dwell in their ivory palaces and proclaim themselves the watchmen of all things right and true, who will guard us against the guards themselves?

~

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