With all the oddball things that have gone on this year alone, this has to be the oddest. Snopes, the well-known fact checker website, did a fact check on an article published in the Babylon Bee. At first blush, there’s nothing odd about it…until you do a bit of research. The Babylon Bee is a Christian parody website.
While some have proclaimed satire is dead because it’s getting harder to tell who is serious and who is joking, it’s getting even harder to tell who is serious and who is joking about fact checking. (Granted, you have to be pretty desperate for work, dumber than a bag of hammers, or bored to fact check a satire website, but who am I to judge?) And who appointed these fact checkers to be fact checkers? The answers may surprise you. But what shouldn’t surprise you is that fact checkers are this week’s Leftist Lexicon installment.
What the Left thinks it means – people who look for dishonesty in public policy and media and expose it
What it really means – Leftists trying to mask their biases by hiding behind a false commitment to the truth
The Left has an interesting relationship with the truth. Sometimes, they say the truth is subjective (usually when they’re on the wrong side of an issue that even a 3 year old can figure out). Other times, they say the truth is clearly defined (usually when they’re on what they think is the winning side of an issue and there are no 3 year olds present to tell them off). On the issue of fact checking, they rely on the latter approach.
When you think about fact checking, the first place you may think of is Snopes. That’s because they’ve been around the longest and have been referenced by everyone from CNN to Forbes. Although it started out busting urban legends, it has moved into the realm of fact checking political statements. And, let’s just say they’re not quite as balanced as some would lead us to believe. It seems their political fact checker is…drumroll please…a Leftist.
But wait. Didn’t Snopes get investigated by FactCheck and found not to be biased? They were. However, FactCheck’s judgment is as flawed as Hillary Clinton’s after a vodka bender with Chelsea Handler. For one, FactCheck cleared Snopes back in 2009, which was before the aforementioned political fact checker at Snopes was hired. Second, FactCheck has taken a leftward turn in recent years, as evidenced by what they chose to check and how frequently.
Then, there’s PolitiFact, the entity that gave us the Truth-O-Meter. To call them the National Enquirer of fact checking would be an insult to the National Enquirer. While Snopes and FactCheck take great pains to at least appear non-partisan (more on that later), PolitiFact doesn’t bother with that. Here’s an example.
At a Republican Presidential candidate debate, Ron Paul said the federal income tax rate was 0% until 1913. This is correct, as the 16th Amendment creating a federal income tax was not ratified until that year. PolitiFact rated that as Half True. The facts prove Paul right, but it’s only Half True?
But wait! There’s more! Democrat Presidential candidate Jim Webb said in 2015 the US didn’t have a federal income tax until 1913, which as noted above is true. PolitiFact rated that as Mostly True…until December 20, 2016, when they revised their rating to Half True. But by that point, the damage had been done. They rated a Republican and a Democrat differently for saying the same thing, just with different wording.
And let’s not forget Media Matters, a wholly owned subsidiary of George Soros run by admitted liar and observed coke fiend David Brock, was created and still maintains itself as a fact checking organization devoted to calling out the lies of the GOP, conservatives, and anyone to the right of Karl Marx.
The thing to remember about fact checking is it should be factual, not factual with asterisks. This is where a lot of fact checking sources the Left uses fall flat because they don’t see the problem with biased phrasing. Heck, the mainstream media do it all the time and the Left treats it like gospel! But for those of us looking for the truth, sifting through mounds of doublespeak to find a sliver of honesty can be tiring and somewhat fruitless.
Meanwhile, fact checking sites become the default soothsayers without so much as a second opinion from outside their own circles. After all, if one of them falls, they all take a hit. So, to keep up appearances, they will occasionally throw a Leftist under the bus in the hopes you won’t notice the tires are covered with Republicans they’ve run over in a rush to prove they lied, even when they didn’t.
But here’s the thing. Volume of alleged truths or lies doesn’t make one side more or less honest than the other when the ones controlling the volume have a bias going into the process. A person with an axe to grind or to hide will see the same statements differently if said by people they disagree with, as we saw with the Paul/Webb example. That should put everybody concerned with the truth on high alert with any fact checkers.
Whenever I try to think through a political, social, or criminal (but I repeat myself since I already mentioned political) situation, I ask a simple question: Who benefits? The same approach can and should be taken with fact checkers. Who benefits from their checking or lack thereof? Who benefits when they use biased reasoning to determine who is telling the truth and who is lying? Who benefits by keeping people guessing about what the truth really is?
I can tell you none of us benefit when we let political hacks tell us what should believe.
Read everything you can on a subject with a critical eye. Don’t just take one perspective on it; find multiple sources and compare what you find. Don’t be afraid to check your own biases at the door and open your mind to other possibilities. And above all else, watch out for the language used. The more emotionally charged the language, the less truthful it is.
Good luck on your quest to find truth. We’re gonna need it.