Oh Those Pesky Fact-Checkers…

As the practice of traditional journalism has slowly evaporated, a few websites have tried to fill the “gatekeeper” gap–fact-checking assertions, and verifying or debunking the urban legends and memes that travel so quickly in our connected, social media age.

We have Snopes.com and Factcheck.org and Politifact.com–all of which are helpful, if ultimately inadequate, resources for those of us who want to check the “facts” in crazy Uncle Ray’s latest email before forwarding it on to other unsuspecting folks.

The more mendacious members of our political class are less than enthusiastic about these resources. I recently stumbled across this description of Ted Cruz’ reaction to Politifact.

In fact, Ted Cruz has an absolutely abysmal record on Politifact for telling the truth. Out of the 36 comments they’ve fact-checked on Cruz, an astonishing 67 percent of them have been rated as “Mostly False” all the way down to “Pants on Fire.” And out of all 36 of those comments, only one has been rated as “True.” That lone statement was one he made where he was trying to fear-monger about government regulations being so bad that they regulate toilet seats.

Yes, the only 100% true statement Ted Cruz has made out of the 36 that have been fact-checked by Politifact was about toilet seats.

Politifact also recently fact-checked a bit on the Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart ran a too-fast-to-read stream he identified as 50 recent lies from Fox News. If you are interested in slowing down the stream, in order to see what it was that Fox said and the results of Politifact’s research, click on the link. If you don’t have time, I’ll just tell you that (surprise!) all 50 of the Fox assertions ranged from “false” to “pants on fire.”

Whatever the hell Fox is, it isn’t “news.” It isn’t even legitimate commentary.

The problem is, we’re losing real news. We have propaganda outlets like Fox, and we have pathetic remnants of traditional journalism like the Star, ignoring the watchdog function in favor of “reporting” focused upon sports and where to buy craft beer.

Without real reporters doing real journalism, our elected officials make deals in the dark, and politicians–and propaganda outlets– feel free to lie.


  1. Bill O’Reilly is a pathological liar. Ted Cruz is a pathological liar. Most of what people hear on Faux News is a lie. Most of what Republican office holders and politicians say (e.g. The ACA is a terrible failure, raising taxes on the rich will destroy our economy) is a deliberate lie. Does anyone see a pattern here? Have our politics been reduced to the liars versus the truth tellers? I believe so. When an entire political party exists solely to benefit the already affluent and the bigots, it must tell lies because the truth is its greatest enemy.

  2. What’s more disturbing than that they lie is that they know it, plan to continue to, and have apparently no remorse for doing it or even getting caught at it. Even Tricky Dicky ultimately regretted it.

    Lee Atwater’s invention of blatant lying has consumed the Great Oligarchy Plot and I fear that its success will cause frquent lying to spread to Democrats as well. Its what statesmanship has devolved to in the absence of good journalism. Its also, IMO, a product of oligarchy. The oligarchs recruit liars from among their cultural cults and promise them a lucrative high profile career as a professional liar. Money does the rest.

    It’s hard to see the pot ‘o gold at the end of the rainbow over the pig sty.

  3. I have had a few family members and friends drop me from their E-mail address books after I responded to their forwarded lies and bull s*+t with carefully researched fact checks on those web sites. Haven’t missed them at all. I once spent 4 days debunking a list of 24 lies about President Obama; what surprised me most was the number and quality of the same list of 24. Some were very professionally presented, others in a tacky list sent by those uneducated regarding available facts and truths but simply believed the ugliness because they were ugly and clicked “forward”. I will continue to use these sources; and probably continue to be dropped from address books but I will continue to be better informed and better educated as they stagnate till time to rush out and vote for more Republicans.

  4. I don’t mind losing a few liars from my contacts. What I mind is losing better and better approximations to the truth. When the big lie is prevelant – taken as situational propaganda in the search for power living becomes inauthentic, bombastic, reactive and poor. It’s always been that war but now we have the technology to go stupid faster than ever.

  5. Al and these others are right on the money, and you can’t fix stupid. You just can’t. Just dump those ridiculous ‘forwards’ and hate-filled e-mails. Blast the senders, throw the BS flag on them, and click them out of your address books. When you engage with them, they think they’ve won. Do not give them the satisfaction of thinking they have won.

    You can begin practicing now with the kerfuffle over Hillary’s e-mails. She did nothing wrong–others in high places have done and are doing it. The legions of crazies armed with lies and half-truths are marching over that hill, so be ready.

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