Fact-checkers versus politicians: It’s election season

By MELISSA CASTILLO

It’s a precarious time when organizations and politicians try to denounce fact-checking sites, such as Politifact and Factcheck, websites that are supposed to be credible, websites that readers rely on.

A reason for this is because the news media have the reputation of being biased despite the recent “Fact-Checking Explosion,” the headline for an American Journalist Review, written almost two years ago. The emphasis continues to be a prominent issue among journalists, especially with the presidential election coming up soon.

Margaret Sullivan, public editor for The New York Times, wrote an article published five days ago about this topic, “He said, She said, and the Truth.” Sullivan addresses the issue that journalists shouldn’t have the reputation that completely contradicts their fundamental obligation to the public, to report the truth. She quotes Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s post on Jay Rosen’s PressThink blog, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.” According to his article, it seems as though this is the Republican mentality in Romney’s campaign. He quotes Mitt Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

This reminded me of something that came up in class today, Republican’s aren’t exactly the best in wording. Moynihan points this out as well by giving an example as to what the Republican Party should have said: “We think fact checking is an important but fallible part of the campaign dialogue; we also reserve our right to contest in absolute terms some of the rulings. They are, after all, acts of judgment. And this is one of those judgments we completely reject and disagree with. Here’s why….”

This is a words war of biased politicians versus credible websites. A conservative magazine, Human Events, even claims that the Politifact is “left wing.” This is based on their claim that the ratio for Republicans being called out is 9 to 1. Moynihan responds with this, “If asymmetry counts as evidence for media bias, an asymmetrical situation can never be portrayed by the media in an unbiased way.” Common sense.

This relates to a Family Guy episode that plays on the cliché “stubborn as a mule,” in which a mule says Kevin Bacon wasn’t in the film “Footloose.” When the guy he’s speaking to disputes his false statement the mule responds, “No he wasn’t, you lose…nope you’re wrong…no, no, no, no…” A comment on a YouTube video of the clip says, “This is American politics in a nutshell.”

Seems to be about right.

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