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September 7, 2012
Fact checking the fact checkers
Fact checkers have been getting a lot of attention recently as the line between fact checking and personal interpretation have become more blurred.
I first noticed this in the results of the "fact checking" of Ryan's acceptance speech. In every case the fact checkers seemed to not address the facts but gave their interpretation of what Ryan was trying to say. Interpretations are opinions and should be relegated to the editorial page not the fact checking columns.
Case in point: Ryan said that Obama went to Janesville and told the workers at the plant that a government under his leadership would make sure that the plant would be open for another 100 years. I saw a video of then candidate Obama's speech and it was pretty clear what he was saying. Ryan stated the fact that Obama didn't live up to that promise because the plant is now shuttered.
Fact Check = True.
The so-called fact checkers preferred to make the case that the plant was shut down under Bush. This is patently false since 100 union workers continued to produce trucks more than three months into Obama's presidency, ceasing operations in late April 2009. It is true that the order to close the plant occurred in 2008 after Obama's visit but it was clearly still open in 2009. While this has absolutely nothing to do with what Ryan said, in their opinion the Liberal fact checkers think it's important. Bottom line is that the plant was still producing vehicles while Obama was president.
Fact Check on the fact checkers = False and misleading.
Now you'll notice that I didn't give some Pinocchio's, or stars, or degrees of pants on fire. I gave a true and a false.
The Janesville comment has received fact check findings ranging from absolutely false to somewhat true. How can that be?
If you're checking facts, a fact can only be true or false. If you give a range of truth or a degree of false then you are giving your opinion or interpretation. Once you allow your opinion to influence the assessment you are no longer a fact checker but a journalist, pundit, propagandist, or such. You are disqualified from being a fact checker.
The ultimate example of this failure is the case of "fact checker," Glenn Kessler, at the Washington Post. He didn't just check the facts, he gave his opinion as to the statements that Romney might make in a speech that hadn't even been given yet. In other words, he fact checked his own fiction. For this, Kessler should be stripped of his fact checker credentials and banned from all fact checkers luncheons for life.
And then there's the fact checkers that give a "yes-but". Here's an example from ABC News (emphasis is mine):
I give ABC News a "yes-but" of my own. They too left out some "important data" in their attempt to sway the conversation away from their anointed one's dismal performance.
Is what ABC News said true? Yes, but don't forget that at its peak under Obama's reign, unemployment reached 10.2% in October 2009. Their omission shows ABC's true motivation and disqualifies them from attending any future fact checkers luncheons as well.
So next time some Liberal refers the number of Pinocchio's somebody did or didn't get, just point out that facts can only be true or false. But that may be just my opinion.
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