The pressure PolitiFact feels to raise money from individual donors has resulted in a distinct story genre. PolitiFact's lying "PolitiFact is not biased" article from 2018 serves as a fine example, with PolitiFact skirting the facts about itself to sell its biased fact-checking to would be donors.
In 2022, PolitiFact looked to do whiny Taylor Lorenz one better with its mewling "PolitiFact reporters face online harassment; we keep fact-checking anyway."
In the alleged interest of transparency, PolitiFact tells us it receives vicious attacks. But it does not relate the specifics because that might give them undue attention!
In other words, it's not about transparency. It's about money.
And it's about twisting the truth.
The self-pity party, penned by PolitiFact Editor-in-Chief Angie Drobnic Holan, begins:
Fact-checking journalism has never been exactly easy.
Our normal work days include overcoming a series of obstacles: We field questions from readers seeking the facts on topics large and small. We dig for hard-to-find information over the internet and track down experts to interview over the phone. We reach out to press secretaries and spokespeople, seeking their comments and insights. We write the fact-checks and take them through a rigorous editing process with many revisions. We list and link to all of our sources so readers can review our work for themselves. We energetically debate ratings on our Truth-O-Meter.
The "rigorous editing process" counts as a howler. Significant errors often slide past three(!) PolitiFact editors as well as the writer. Zebaa Fact Check documented one such example from May 25, 2022, when PolitiFact rated a false statement (and bankrupt argument) from a Democrat "Mostly True."
The claim that they "energetically debate ratings on our Truth-O-Meter" counts as fluff. The Truth-O-Meter debates are not public. You'll just have to take their word for it. Such transparency! And if the vote of three editors gets split, they're not going to tell you how the vote went down.
In the interest of transparency, we're not linking to any specific examples
Hilariously, PolitiFact trumpets its transparency in detailing the attacks it has suffered while also taking pains not to identify any specific examples of attacks it has suffered. Instead, PolitiFact names two of its attackers (Dan Bongino! And Ron DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw!). As to what the evildoers did, PolitiFact cannot mention anything specific for fear of amplifying the evil message. But trust PolitiFact when it says the behavior "can only be described as online harassment and intimidation."
To assure our readers of our high-quality content we need more smoke!
PolitiFact offends most deeply with its sanctimonious attitude. Just check this out:
The actions of these anti-journalism forces are deeply concerning to everyone who cares about the independent practice of fact-finding. Disparagement of individual journalists has become an occupational hazard for PolitiFact’s staff and among journalists at media organizations around the country.Again, PolitiFact offered no specific description of the actions undertaken by "anti-journalism forces." Bongino supposed misrepresented PolitiFact's findings (no specifics, sorry!). Pushaw published inquiries from journalists, ridiculed them and then did something else bad (PolitiFact hints).
Deeply concerning to everyone who cares about the independent practice of fact-finding? Maybe if PolitiFact had divulged some of the specific facts we would have reason for real concern.
More sanctimony: They say we made mistakes--but we didn't!
PolitiFact (bold emphasis added):
Reporters were singled out individually as being unfit for their jobs. They’ve been vilified for not having advanced credentials or specialized academic degrees. (Conversely, they’ve also been criticized as out-of-touch elites.) They’ve been told over and over that they should be fired for incompetence. In reality, their credentials are entirely appropriate for journalism, their reporting was factually valid, and the published fact-checks were solid and without error. For the record, they’re in zero danger of being fired.Again, in the interest of transparency PolitiFact tells us that the charges of error PolitiFact will not tell us about were themselves wrong, and PolitiFact was right all along!
This is from an organization that, its internal "Truth-O-Meter" debates aside, typically avoids commenting on charges of error. Indeed, the fact checkers at PolitiFact often seem quite happy to stand behind obviously false reporting.
Of course the point is obviou$
Our readers remain a huge source of solace in the face of online attacks. Many of them support us financially with monthly donations. They share our reports online and publicly comment that they appreciate our work. Others contact us directly with simple words of support sent via email or on social media. We are here to serve those who seek fact-based, civil expression. Disagreement is fine. Personal, ugly attacks are shameful — and won’t discourage us from our work.PolitiFact's article is best viewed as an appeal for money.
If people want to give money to a left-leaning fact checker, give to one that plausibly hews to standards of integrity, like FactCheck.org. FactCheck.org resisted joining the ludicrous "normal tourist visit" media smear of of Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.). PolitiFact went all in (and couldn't even punctuate the supposed quotation correctly).
Name-calling aside, PolitiFact deserves heaps of criticism. It stinks at fact-checking. The worst of the mainstream fact-checkers seems to see itself in no need of improvement except improved cash flow.
Not. Very. Objective.
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