As I try, in my peasant-y way, to navigate the reefs and shoals of all the “fake news” the world throws before us, I’m thankful we’ve got gatekeepers like “Snopes.com” to do our thinking for us.
That’s the American “Fact-Check” industry – guarding the ramparts of American intellectual integrity.
So if wrote a piece about a fact-checking site “checking facts” on a satirical story, you’d either think that the “Fact Check” site was the one being satirical, or that the satire site had gone just a tad over the top.
Neither is apparently the case in this story, in which Snopes “fact checks” Babylon Bee – which, in its own way may be America’s finest news source today, if you think about it – and a “story” it did about Jussie Smollett getting a job at CNN. Babylon Bee was (so far) being satirical, and Snopes was not.
Oh, yeah – did I say the Bee was likely America’s most reliable source of news? I’m being a little less satirical than they are:
They may do news better than the Big Three, these days.
Politifact long ago gave up any claim to being non-partisan, at least among people who pay attention. Fact-checking Politi”fact” is itself a target-rich environment for fact-checkers and “progressive” dogma-untanglers.
This year, they were kind of sly about it – the “winner” was “the “online smear machine” that attempted to “take down Parkland students.”
They’re referring mostly to Alex Jones’ reprehensible claims that the Parkland massacre was a setup and that the kids are “crisis actors”, and the small but vocal social media crowd that echoed the claim.
Of course, this brings up a logical problem, and a condundrum
First the logical problem, as David Harsanyi points out in Federalist: –
Although I know of numerous Twitter accounts that have accused gun-rights advocates of being “terrorists,” many of them featuring blue checkmarks, I can’t recall a single conservative in Congress, anyone in the National Rifle Association, or any other mainstream right-wing group accusing the Parkland kids of being “crisis actors.” I do recall a single article on RedState questioning David Hogg’s actions the day of the mass shooting, which was quickly corrected and apologized for.
Yet PolitiFact spends much of its time detailing the Parkland kids’ cause by highlighting their political opponents who have nothing to do with the smear, implicitly linking them to the “Lie of the Year.” The piece is framed in a way that intimates that anyone contesting the Parkland kids’ political cause is now in league with the online mob – and Russian bots!
By the way, even if we allow that kids who experience this tragedy should dictate the contours of a policy debate, it is worth noting that there are “Parkland kids” who hold diverging opinions regarding the Second Amendment and arming teachers. They are largely ignored by the media.
It’s not the kids’ fault that they find themselves the focus of ugliness on social media. It’s the fault of those who attack them and the adults who exploit them for political causes. Young people should be given some leeway in their activism, even if they say ridiculous things—and David Hogg and other leaders of the March for Our Lives movement often say things that aren’t even in the proximity of the truth. There is no need for ad hominemattacks. But the “Parkland kids” were also given a massive stage on which to offer their uncontested emotionalism to drive the debate. Kids or not, Americans have every right to challenge their contentions.
And Politifact using Jones as the figurehead of this criticism is a strawman that tries to paint all criticism of Hogg and company as the same breed of crazy. And yet Hogg and the rest of the kids that’ve been propped up with liberal plutocrat money deserve criticism; they are little petty tyrants in the making, and they are serial liars to boot.
Now the conundrum; without Politifact to tell people who Alex Jones was and what he was claiming, would anyone outside the alt-“right” fever swamp have ever heard of him?
The “online smear machine” is an amorphous and ugly entity that isn’t confined to any ideology and spares virtually no one in the public eye. But any way you look at it, imbuing it with an importance it doesn’t deserve isn’t doing public discourse any favors. Even if it makes conservatives look bad.
And finally – given that almost nobody in this country hears about Alex Jones except when the media expresses its high dudgeon over him, are his antics really “the biggest lie” of the year? Or even the biggest lie about the Parkland massacre?
It’s debatable, in fact, that it was even the most significant lie disseminated about the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. The sheriff of Broward County, after all, was featured at the widely covered CNN anti-gun rally where he misled the nation about the failures, cowardice, and incompetence that allowed the shooting to occur. And the sheriff of Broward County isn’t some random Twitter troll.
Further evidence that the mainstream media needs to be distrusted but verified – and then, especially on hot-button topics like this, almost invariably distrusted some more.
The problem with Snopes isn’t that they’re biased to the left (although they very well may be).
The problem with Snopes is – much like banished commenter Dog Gone – they seem to think “Big Left’s Current Cant” is interchangeable with fact.
As we see here, it just isn’t so.
Snopes.com recently fact-checked a post that we first put up in June 2015 and updated on January 7, 2016. This became an issue for them because a story that Fox News’ Special Report that had run a couple years ago was getting circulated on Facebook after the Florida high school shooting. They wrote: “Our conclusion is that this is accurate based on the CPRC’s definition of a mass shooting, but also extremely misleading. It uses inappropriate statistical methods to obscure the reality that mass shootings are very rare in most countries, so that when they do happen they have an outsized statistical effect.”
Watching the CPRC go on to flense Snopes’ claim is joyful thing. Give it a read.
Over the weekend, NPR came out with a “Fact Check” piece about whether Chicago is “proof” that gun laws don’t affect crime.
Is the “fact check”, well, factual?
It’s NPR and they’re talking about guns. What do you think?
“I think one of the things we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of things from happening,” Sanders said Monday. “I think if you look to Chicago where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”
Pointing to Chicago to suggest that gun laws don’t work is not a new talking point — Trump claimed Chicago had “the toughest gun laws in the United States” in a 2016 presidential debate; his fellow Republican candidate Chris Christie likewise pointed to Chicago as a place with high crime despite tight gun laws.
Now, if you’re a Right to Keep and Bear Arms person, you know what that really means; the idea that tight regulations on law-abiding civlilians owning guns hasn’t the foggiest impact on crime, at best, and a negative impact at worst. That – crime and death, and how infringing freedom for the law-abiding doesn’t affect either – is what we’re concerned about.
And what does NPR focus on?
The Fussy Tangent: Hey, at least NPR acknowledges the real problem, sort of:
It’s also true that there were more than 4,000 shooting victims in Chicago in 2016. It’s also true that Chicago has suffered a massive amount of gun crime recently. In 2016, homicides in Chicago sharply rose, mostly as a result of gun homicides, as the University of Chicago crime lab found in a January report.
Gun homicides in the city rose by 61 percent between 2015 and 2016. That helped make the gun homicide rate…25.1 per 100,000 residents in 2016, compared to 14.7 in Philadelphia and just 2.3 in New York.
But never mind all the carnage and death. It’s Huckabee-Sanders’ assertion that’s the real issue!
But it’s not true that Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country, as other fact checkers have also repeatedly found…”We generally think of California as having the strongest gun laws in the country,” said Hannah Shearer, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The whole state’s laws are pretty strong.”
The center has given California an A rating and ranks it No. 1 in terms of the tightness of its gun laws.
Ah. So law-abiding citizens are disarmed, and criminals are deterred only by the ministrations of the Chicago Police Department – but they’re not the “toughest” laws, according to the abstract reasoning of a gun grabber group?
This is not a “fact check”. This is an ideological purity test.
It gets worse.
The Mean Streets Of Hammond: NPR next revisits the old canard; Chicago would be safe, if it weren’t for those darned Hoosiers and Badgers:
It’s important to remember here that Chicago is very close to two states that have relatively weak gun laws: Wisconsin and Indiana. So while it’s easy to pick on Chicago (or any other high-crime city) for its ugly statistics, says one expert, taking bordering states into account weakens this gun-advocacy talking point.
“It’s not a scientific study. It’s an anecdote,” said Philip Cook, a professor of public policy studies at Duke University. “They might have pointed to Washington, D.C., back in the days when D.C. banned handguns and yet had high gun-violence rates. Those bans are only at best partially effective, because the borders are permeable.”
So why aren’t Indiana, Wisconsin and Virginia stacking up bodies like cordwood? If availability of guns were the problem, then wouldn’t places like North Dakota, New Mexico and Wyoming be shooting galleries?
NPR does try to drill further into the issue:
A 2015 study of guns in Chicago, co-authored by Cook, found that more than 60 percent of new guns used in Chicago gang-related crimes and 31.6 percent used in non-gang-related crimes between 2009 and 2013 were bought in other states. Indiana was a particularly heavy supplier, providing nearly one-third of the gang guns and nearly one-fifth of the non-gang guns.
Other evidence corroborates this — a 2014 Chicago Police Department report found that Indiana accounted for 19 percent of all guns recovered by the department between 2009 and 2013.
NPR has found correlation, not a cause. Yes, there are guns from other states to fill the black market demand for firearms. Every single one of them is the result of a felony – a theft (a state felony) or a “straw purchase”, a person with a clean record buying a buy and giving/selling it to a criminal, which is a federal felony.
Is it because Indiana has “lax” gun laws?
Or is it because the US Attorney for Northern Illinois announced that his office wasn’t going to spend time prosecuting “straw buyers” anymore? Because he wanted to focus his office on politically-sexy prosecutions, and nobody ever got elected to the Senate by showing off a record of prosecuting gang-bangers’ girlfriends, junior high pals and grandmothers?
So, In Summary: The NPR “fact-check” ignored the actual point of the Trump Administration’s statement – that gun control and public safety are not in any way linked, and in some cases may be inversely correlated – to pedantically nitpick Huckabee Sanders’ conceptually accurate statement about the legalities, and issue a deflection about other states’ laws that actually reinforces the Pro-Civil Rights’ side’s point.
Facts In The Dark rules this article as part of the NPR’s effort to be part of Big Left’s Praetorian Guard.
Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:
Trump claims John Podesta barred the FBI from looking at the DNC computer.
You remember that computer – not the one in Hillary’s bathroom that she wiped with a cloth, this is the DNC server that supposedly got “hacked” by the Russians to steal the Democrats’ emails, which the Russians then released to the public through their shill, Wikileaks, in an effort to make Hillary look bad so voters wouldn’t like her, all the while colluding with the Trump campaign to steal the election from Hillary. Trump claims the FBI never saw it.
Naturally, the Liberal media is covering for the Democrats. Politifact rated Trump’s claim a LIE: John Podesta did NOT bar the FBI from looking at the DNC computer. Somebody else did that.
Missing the point, people! The essence of the claim remains true: the feds never saw the computer.
The only evidence the Russians had anything to do with the massive leak of embarrassing emails comes from the private IT firm hired by the Democrats. The leak could just as easily have come from a disgruntled DNC employee, perhaps an IT specialist who downloaded the emails and offered them to Wikileaks right before he was murdered in a ‘robbery gone bad’ in which nothing was stolen, that the D.C. cops refuse to investigate.
Since when does the FBI out-source criminal investigations or national security breaches? But the Democrats assured James Comey the Russians did it, and that’s good enough for old Jimbo. And the rest of the nation blindly follows the false trail down the rabbit hole.
If Democrats defended this nation like they defend their narrative, ISIS would be hiding under a rock in the Hejdaz.
Politifact says President Trump is right…
They don’t “check facts”. They ensure congruency with the narrative. No more.
The left-leaning mainstream media – which has in the life of this blog:
- embraced (and still embraces) a “fake” but “accurate” story about George Bush’s Air Guard service that sported faked documents and references to officers who had retired from the service by the time they signed the purported document
- Actively colluded with the Hillary Clinton campaign and is actively and quite publicly looking for ways to sandbag the incoming Administration
- Faked “research” about firearm defense, and done is so badly lil’ ol’ me was able to shred it by my lonesome…
Perhaps because of paragraphs like this (emphasis added by me):
“What I think is so unsettling about the fake news cries now is that their audience has already sort of bought into this idea that journalism has no credibility or legitimacy,” said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, a liberal group that polices the news media for bias. “Therefore, by applying that term to credible outlets, it becomes much more believable.”
Media Matters is a Soros-funded propaganda mill. It is a “media watchdog” only to the extent that an attack-PR firm is a watchdog of anything; relentlessly scouring media for congruence with liberal chanting points with all the grace of a German funk band.
Others see a larger effort to slander the basic journalistic function of fact-checking. Nonpartisan websites like Snopes and Factcheck.org have found themselves maligned when they have disproved stories that had been flattering to conservatives.
Neither is non-partisan.
While I think good reporting is essential to a representative Republic, I think our current mainstream media will not be the ones to perform any kind of “good reporting”. The sooner it goes out of business, the better for democracy.
I’ve been saying (and proving) for years that the mainstream media’s “Fact Check” industry is a bald-faced left-wing propaganda operation.
Circumstantial evidence? Politifact has different answers for the same statement, depending on who says it:
First we ignore people who consider Politifact unbiased and authoritative.
Then we mock people who consider Politifact unbiased and authoritative.
Then we win.
Gandhi was wrong. There is no “attack” phase needed.
People – mostly Democrats – have considered “Snopes” the unimpeachable source of truth.
And when you read this, it’s also worth noting they also consider Jon Stewart, NPR, Steven Colbert, Ed Schultz and Huffington Post to be news sources, too.
…is that so many of them think “declaring what the facts are” is a substitute for “knowing what the facts are”.
Last week, I lit up MPR’s “Poligraph” feature for checking the “accuracy” of an utterly subjective bit of political smack-talk by GOP Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson.
Last Friday? Poligraph used subjectivity to “fact-check” GOP 8th CD candidate Stewart Mills.
To be fair, Catherine Richert did smack down one of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee’s more risible claims, that Mills opposes Obamacare because he is floating on a raft of insurance industry money:
To support part of its claim, the DCCC points to information collected by OpenSecrets.com, a website that tracks campaign money. The website shows Mills has taken $7,100 from the insurance industry. But that’s the entire insurance industry, not just health insurance companies.
According to Mills’ campaign finance records, he’s gotten $1,000 from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association PAC, and that’s it.
OK. So far so good.
But this next part?
Popularity!: I suspect that if you passed a law that compelled the government to send out a $10,000 check to every citizen at Christmastime, it’d be “Popular”. (Or perhaps a law allowing people from small radio stations to take their pick of equipment at public radio stations).
But would “popularity” make it a good idea? More to the point – would opposing it be wrong because it’s “popular?”
We return to Richert’s piece; as we read it, look for any objective evidence that Mills’ position is wrong:
The DCCC also claims that Mills wants to scrap popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that prevents insurance companies from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions and another provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
Here, the DCCC is on stronger footing.
Campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow says Mills isn’t opposed to making sure young adults and those with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance – he just thinks there are better ways of doing it.
For instance, Mills wants to strengthen privacy rules for people with pre-existing conditions and to reinstate the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, which is a special health insurance program for people with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance elsewhere. That program is being phased out, because those people are now get insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Richert’s conclusion (with emphasis added)?:
… the group is correct that Mills isn’t keen on Obamacare, including two provisions that are relatively popular with the public.
Let’s be clear, here: Richert is checking the DCCC’s statement. She finds half of it questionable (the insurance money), and half of it accurate (like every single Republican I can think of, Mills opposes Obamacare and thinks we can do the same job much more efficiently by tweaking existing programs).
In other words, the DCCC says that Mills supports GOP policy?
That’s not even dog bites man. That’s “dog sniffs dog”.
Which is fine, if journalistically a little pointless.
But Richert points out in several places that the programs that Mills would scrap are “popular”.
What earthly journalistic difference do the programs’ “popularity” have?
While Richert is correct in pointing out that the DCCC’s money claims are wrong, she’s essentially pointing out in her second point that the DCCC is, indeed, pointing out correctly that Mills is campaigning as a Republican, with what looks like a little gratuitous reassurance to MPR’s DFL-leaning audience thrown in for good measure.
So I give this episode of “Poligraph” a grade of “Huh?”
With all due respect to MPR’s News department (and, stereotypes aside, I’ve tried to pay it where it’s been due, as with the exception of everything Keri Miller touches it often has been), it seems that “Poligraph” is explaining the obvious.
UPDATE: Gary Gross at Let Freedom Ring also covered this bit earlier in the week, and has unsurprisingly similar conclusions.
The Claim: Every weekend for the past forty years, Garrison Keillor has closed his “News from Lake Wobegone” segment by claiming all the men are strong, all the women are good-looking, and all the children are above-average”.
But we wanted to know – is it true?
The Evidence: In Keillor’s favor, we note that not only is his claim – like Jeff Johnson’s statement that Governor Dayton is “in trouble” – subjective, but it is in fact dramatic license, a tag line to a series of fictional essays.
However, the winner of the 2014 World’s Strongest Man competition is Žydrūnas Savickas, of Lithuania.
The world’s foremost empirical test of female beauty is the Miss Universe pageant – and the most recent winner, in 2013, was María Gabriela de Jesús Isler Morales of Venezuela.
And since Minnesota stopped requiring graduation testing in 2013, it’s impossible to empirically say what “average” is, or whether Lake Wobegone’s children – fictional though they may be – are above it.
The Verdict – So since neither the world’s strongest man nor most beautiful woman resides in Lake Wobegone, and there is no means to measure the children, we give this claim a rating of “Misleading”.
That a man’s reach exceed his grasp, etc, etc.
“The Alliance for a Better Minnesota – which, as most MPR listeners are unaware, is essentially a political PR firm funded by wealthy Democrats, government employee unions, and Governor Dayton’s ex-wife Alita Messinger, has been running a well-funded advertising and social-media campaign for the past few electoral cycles labeling their Republican opposition, jointly and severally, as “Wrong for Minnesota”
“What does this mean? And is the claim accurate?”
“The Evidence: While one can expect any politician and their supporters to reflexively label their opposition as “wrong” – moreso in today’s polarized climate than ever – the terms “right” and “wrong” are themselves terms with deeply subjective meanings. The meanings of the terms are, in fact, more tied to philosophy than politics”
“Poligraph consulted leading philosophers from all major worldviews – from structuralists to neo-Dadaists, and even a few with tendencies toward nihilism – and while there was no agreement on an absolute definition of “right” or “wrong”, much less one applicable to Minnesota, and Minnesota politics specifically, the general consensus was that the term “wrong” is intrinsically tied to the perception of both the “speaker” and the “listener” or consumer of the statement.”
“However, ‘the idea that one speaker could judge something ‘wrong’ for an entire state of 5.5 million independent agents, just on their say-so, is just plain bizarre”, according to a consensus statement signed by every single philosopher we consulted.”
“The Verdict: The Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s claim that any individual politician is “Wrong for Minnesota” is Misleading. ”
“It’s also deeply pretentious, illogical, philosophically vacant, and to some points of view just a little bit morally repugnant.”
Mark Twain once observed that there are three types of media “fact-check” efforts: Democrat PR puff-pieces, Bald-Faced Democrat PR puff-pieces, and legit ones.
A good fact-checker will note that Twain said no such thing. My first paragraph was really a bit of hyperbole.
As such, it wasn’t intended to be a “factual” statement, per se, as one intended to express a subjective opinion and win people over to my side of an argument (or at least mock those who oppose me). It’s a form of rhetoric; using language to try to persuade and convince.
So while it’s not strictly “factual”, it is two things:
- It makes what I believe to be a legitimate point; from the smugly left-centric “Politifact” all the way down to most local efforts, the “Fact-Check” industry is for the most part intended to aid Democrats. My statement isn’t intended to be a “fact” so much as a rhetorical device to open my case to the reader.
- It sets off my personal opinion (based on years of reading and studying media fact-check organizations) that they are in the bag for Big Left.
Hyperbole is but one tool the rhetorician uses to state his case.
OK. I have a question: Of the three choices I gave in the first graf, what is the latest edition of MPR’s “Poligraph” – a DFL PR Effort, a Bald-Faced PR effort, or legit?
Read reporter Catherine Richert’s latest effort, and you be the judge.
If you read this blog, you know that “Politifact”, the WaPo’s “Fact-Check” column, accepted as the sine qua non of political fact-checking by many in the industry (and more of the less-informed outside it).
Those people might not know that “Politifact” has been carrying President Obama’s water on the key claims about the Democrat’s flagship Obamcare legislation since the beginning. What they might not know is that : “Politifact” and its editor, Angie Drobnic Holan, have not only completely flip-flopped on the story, but are burying the fact that what they called the “Lie of the Year” in 2013, they called “True” with a side order of “you are an ignorant redneck for even asking” in 2008:
The highlight of Holan’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” article was that it completely ignored Holan’s own “True” rating of the “keep your plan” claim back in 2008. A sidebar to the article listed as “related rulings” Holan’s 2013 articles about Jarrett and Obama, and Jacobson’s 2012 article rating the claim as “Half True.” The text of the article cites also the 2009 “Half True” report. But nowhere does the “Lie of the Year” piece even acknowledge that its author once gave Obama’s promise its 100 percent “True” seal of approval.
Now, if you’re a conservative, you know “Politifact” is a Democrat propaganda machine.
The only real question is; do the media – especially those that call themselves “no rant, no slant” objective journalists – know?
To: Eric Black, MinnPost
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant
Re: The New JournoList?
You built your reputation as a reporter. And for that, I give you all due respect.
I was a reporter, too. Not much of one; a couple of radio stations, some free-lance print work. Nothing big, and certainly nothing to build a career out of – but I did learn one thing, and practice it; a reporter is supposed to ask questions.
And while I apply only the broadest possible definition of “journalist” to myself, I do ask questions. I’m told I’m not bad at it, at least on the radio; even a reporter on your side of the aisle commented on it (I’ll direct you to paragraph 16). So it’s not a foreign concept to me.
Now, far be it from me to gainsay one of the deans of Minnesota political writing, but I’ve got a question here.
Last week, you wrote about Dr. Carl Bogus’ assertion from fifteen years ago that the Second Amendment was written to protect slavery. Now, my friend and frequent commenter Joe Doakes – who actually is a lawyer – pointed out that Bogus’ theory is given no weight by the legal academy, because it’s been pretty soundly debunked and, more signally, ignored by legal scholars; Bogus’ theory is only kept alive by anti-gunners who like, as Doakes put it, to “borrow his degree to lend them legitimacy”.
So here’s what I’m curious about.
Bogus published his theory fifteen years ago. It was roundly shredded in short order. It was substantially ignored (beyond a few trivial references to incidental research) in the SCOTUS’ debates that led to the Heller and McDonald decisions, which respectively adopted the “individual right” definition of the 2nd Amendment and incorporated that definition onto the states.
And yet somehow last week Bogus’ theory was pulled from legal history’s scrap heap and restored to glorious prominence by the gun-grabber left.
So I got to checking. The first I heard about it was a comment on my blog on 1/17, which pointed to your article in MinnPost the same day; around that time, I started seeing a lot of lefties on Twitter chanting more or less the same thing. Danny Glover and Roger Ebert had spoken or written about it, stating the “slavery” theory as settled fact, around the same time. And the story was churning around the leftyblog fever swamp, as these things do, once the likes of Kos and Crooks and Liars repeated the meme (which meant every bobbleheaded leftyblog carried it like it was the revealed truth).
Now, a concerted Googling (and a reading of your piece) seems to show that the “writing” about the subject links back to last Tuesday, when lefty talk show host Thom Hartmann – who is sort of the Dennis Prager of the left, only without the intelligence or credentials – wrote a piece on the lefty überblogs TruthOut and Smirking Chimp , lavishly citing Bogus’ theory.
And I thought the dynamics of the story were interesting; in two days, the “story” of Bogus’ “theory”, which had laid mostly dormant since being shredded in the court of academic and public opinion half a generation ago, suddenly was on the lips and minds and blogs of, it seemed, every lefty, from the fever swamp to Hollywood (pardon the redundancy) to, well, MinnPost and a half a million chuckleheaded leftybots on Twitter.
I’ve been writing online for a long time, Mr. Black. I’ve seen memes come and go. The “come” side usually takes a while; someone writes something, it gains traction, it holds sway, it rolls away like the tide. It usually takes a little while.
But the Bogus theory went, metaphorically, from zero to sixty in four seconds flat.
Didja notice that?
Anyway, those are the facts; Bogus’ theory came, was shredded, went away for fifteen years, and suddenly re-germinated across the broad swathe of lefty opinion over the course of two measly days. Now, leaving aside the fact that the theory is, well, bogus (as noted last week) – wouldn’t it have been a useful fact for the reader to know that Bogus’ theory has been languishing in academic obscurity for 15 years for a reason? I know, that would have been a statement against your interest and, I suspect, the MinnPost’s, but it’s kinda significant, no?
But here’s my question: aren’t you the least bit curious as to the, er, pace at which this meme swept the left? From “forgotten” to “conventional wisdom” in two days?
It almost seems as if there’s some sort of back-channel communication – one might even call it a list of journalists, absurd as that sounds – a, for lack of a better term, “Journo List” that syncs the leftymedia up on the major chanting points.
No, I know – that’s just crazy talk. I know.
Anyway – did that strike you as odd in any way? If not, why?
That is all.
PS: Well, no. It’s not. Because while the theory that the Second Amendment was “about protecting slavery” is pretty much a fringe, fever-swamp conceit, it is a matter of settled historical fact and Constitutional Law that the roots of the gun control movement are intensely racist.
More at noon today.
To: Everyone in the media and alt media that lionizes “PolitiFact”
From: Mitch Berg, person who actually cares about the truth
Re: Suck It.
Politifact’s “Lie Of The Year” was in fact true.
Please go reassess the tragedy that is your life and career.
That is all.
(Via Bill C)
Sean Higgins at the WashEx finds yet another case of a major-media “fact-checker” burying inconvenient facts to slander gun owners.
Washington Post Fact Check columnist Glenn Kessler gives Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, “three pinocchios” for claiming, as he did yesterday on Fox News Sunday, that so-called right-to-carry laws reduce crime. So, that’s settled then? There’s no evidence that the laws do that? Err, no … as Kessler’s own column indicates.
“When right-to-carry laws had a surge in popularity in the 1990s, a common liberal argument against them was that this would lead to an increase in gun violence. Stands to reason, right? More guns means more gun crime.”
“Except it didn’t happen. Gun violence overall has declined, horrible incidents like Friday’s notwithstanding. Economist John Lott has argued in his book, More Guns, Less Crime (written with David Mustard) that the concealed carry laws actually reduce crime. It was his work that Gohmert was presumably referencing.”
Well, among others.
Read the whole thing. Sean Higgins at the WashEx shows where the WaPo left the whole “fact” thing behind. It seems they find facts that conflict with a tidy narrative to be just too confusing.
Y’know, as the mainstream media slowly dies off, you’d think one of them might figure out that a feature that checks the facts of the MSM’s legions of biased, narrative-driven “fact-checkers” would be good business.
Unless the media, like the Democrats they support, are banking their entire future on the “low-information consumer”.
I heard this last week on “Poligraph”, MPR’s self-styled “Politifact” homage.
“Poligraph” reporter Catherine Richert was “fact-checking” statements from the GOP and DFL about the state budget. She quoted Governor
You know,[the wealthiest] were paying the higher rates during the 1990s when President Clinton was in office, and we enjoyed boom years in the states. We had the highest real per capita family income in 1999 than we’ve had in our history. Since then, we’ve dropped almost 9 percent from that high in the aftermath of the Minnesota tax cuts in 1999 and 2000, and also the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.” – Gov. Mark Dayton”
You don’t have to be a economist, or even a conservative, to understand where this is wrong. You merely have to be somewhat curious, and care a little bit about history.
Dayton made this statement in response to a question about Republican concerns that a state tax increase on the wealthiest to close the budget gap, which has been a priority for Dayton, and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts on the federal level would hurt the state’s economy.
Dayton was arguing that their logic is flawed because tax cuts don’t always correspond with a strong economy.
Well, no. Governor
Messinger Dayton was correlating prosperity with a causation, higher taxes and a Democrat president.
Now, I’ll give Catherine Richert the benefit of the doubt; as a self-styled “fact-checker”, she’s hobbled by needing to refer to other “Fact-checkers”, the WaPo and the woefully-misnamed “Politifact”, whose institutional bias in these matters is itself a fact:
It’s true that the wealthiest paid more in federal income taxes during the Clinton years. Clinton raised the top marginal rate from 31 percent to nearly 40 percent. It also happened to be a time of strong economic growth, partly because of Clinton and George H. W. Bush’s broader fiscal policies, which lead to lower interest rates and lots of activity on Wall Street, as reported by the Washington Post and PolitiFact.
Well, if the WaPo and Politifact say so. The paragraph itself shows the extent to which MPR’s reporting on the subject is based on the major media’s narrative; those “broader fiscal policies” involved a very pro-business climate, tax hikes notwithstanding.
Richert, the WaPo, Politifact, and Governor
Messinger Dayton glossed over – or didn’t know – the larger historical causation for the correlation:
- Clinton got to cash Reagan’s “peace dividend”
- Gas prices were around a buck a gallon,
- Clinton raised taxes, it’s true. But a GOP Congress didn’t let him raise them nearly as much as he’d wanted to, not to mention defeated his attempt to socialize healthcare, and forced Bubba to govern, tax hikes notwithstanding, as a conservative (especially relative to Dubya’s spending). Remember how liberals squealed about Clinton’s “conservative” nature? Back when Minnesota liberals spoke about the “Democratic Leadership Conference”, the moderate, pro-business Democrat caucus, the way they talk about the Koch brothers today?
As stated, it was a strawman; of course tax cuts don’t always bring prosperity, not by themselves. And tax hikes don’t always gut the economy – provided the other fundamentals are working. In the nineties, the other fundamentals of the economy – energy, capital, investment climate, relative levels of regulation, fairly conservative legislative branch, world markets – were humming right along.
That is just not the case today.
Correlation does not equal causation. It’s a maxim of logic.
But not of “fact-checking”:
George W. Bush slashed those tax rates; Minnesota lowered its tax rates around this time, too.
Assuming Dayton is talking about the national decline in real household income – real per capita family income doesn’t exist – it’s true that it took a 9 percent nosedive after 1999, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
But not as a result of the tax cuts.
Which was what Dayton’s statement – intended as red meat for the low-information voter that is Dayton’s main constituency – insinuates.
I’ll give Richert’s “fact-check” a grade of “Obtuse”…
…for taking dubious “Facts” from discredited and biased “fact-checkers” to
reinforce studiously avoid assailing an illogical and factually and historically void narrative by Governor Dayton.
BONUS: John Gilmore at Minnesota Conservatives also tags Richert for some fairly incurious reporting on the Campaign Finance Board.
Joe Doakes writes:
Pioneer Press On-Line forwarded article from NationalJournal “fact-checking” the debate, that included this bit:
Romney on assault weapons ban:
Responding to a question about assault weapons, Romney said, “We, of course, don’t want automatic weapons, which is already illegal in this country.” Actually, the federal ban on assault weapons — first enacted in 1994 under former President Clinton — expired in September 2004, during the George W. Bush administration.
Um, kids, Clinton’s assault weapons ban did not affect fully-automatic weapons, which is what Romney was specifically talking about. He knows the difference that you evidently do not. The “fact-check” sounds like it was written by one of our old friends.
Attention, media “fact checkers”; we covered this the other day. Read it and learn something.
Obama guts the Clinton-era “Work for Welfare” requirements.
Romney calls Obama on it.
Clinton lies about it from the podium at the DNC.
And America’s “fact-check” industry lines up behind Obama, no matter how they need to forcibly bugger “fact” to do it:
PolitiFact did link to [welfare expert and former Clinton staffer Robert Rector, who was one of the co-authors of Clinton’s original bipartisan welfare reform law]’s blog post—but only to dismiss him. “Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said it could ultimately allow ‘state bureaucrats’ to count activities that aren’t really work. We should point out that those concerns are at odds with the policy’s stated goal of encouraging employment.” In other words, PolitiFact said his concerns should be dismissed for no other reason than they are at odds with the Obama administration’s spin. PolitiFact didn’t even address the fact that Rector—who’s quoted in Romney’s ad—was the source of the charge the Obama administration is gutting welfare reform or that he helped write the welfare reform law. (They did reference an article Rector wrote for National Review Online and concluded that he made “a noteworthy point” when he argued that the Obama administration doesn’t have the legal authority to waive the work requirements.)
Rather than engage in any critical discussion about the issue, PolitiFact regurgitated the HHS memo for the sole purpose of making the waivers sound benign.
And yet again, reality imitates my hyperbolic fiction; Berg’s Fourteenth Law (“The more strenuously a media organization identifies itself as “fact-checkers”, the more completely their “fact checking” will actually be checking statement for congruency with liberal conventional wisdom”) has come vividly to life.
I said “vividly”:
Let’s take that last example of accommodating workers with disabilities—please. It’s a classic bit of bureaucratic misdirection intended to make exemptions that undercut welfare work requirements sound reasonable. “There’s no one on TANF that’s disabled. If you’re disabled, you’re on another program called Supplemental Security Income,” Rector tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “In TANF, you should be able to work—but what the left likes to do is to create a nebulous category of TANF recipients who are disabled with these very cloudy, fuzzy definitions, and then the state can chunk essentially an unlimited part of its [welfare] population into an exempt category. That has twofold consequences—now the state doesn’t have to do anything [to steer the exempted recipients into the workforce], but it can still maintain it has a high participation rate [in workfare programs]. If you have a 30 percent participation rate, and you exempt half the caseload, all of a sudden you can make it look like your participation rate went up.”
Read the whole thing.
And if you’re in the mainstream media, imagine how much less revulsion the general public would feel for you if you actually checked facts, rather than ran to the local Democrat spin doctor for further instructions.
Yesterday, the Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” also delivered its mid-cycle tally of support for the Voter ID Amendment.
And coming barely a week after the generally-accurate Survey USA poll showing Voter ID passing by a 2:1 margin, the Strib would have you believe…:
Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided.
That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law. Support among Democrats has cratered during a year marked by court battles, all-night legislative debates and charges that the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratic votes.
Republicans and independents continue to strongly back the proposal, which passed the Legislature this year without a single DFL vote.
Wow. Sounds close!
Sort of; if you accept the validity of the numbers (and unless the DFL is headed for a blowout win, you must never accept the validity of the “Minnesota Poll’s” numbers), and every single undecided voter today voted “no”, the measure would pass in a squeaker.
But are the numbers valid? And by “valid”, I don’t mean “did they do the math right”, I mean “did they poll a representative sample of Minnesotans?”
To find that out, you have to do something that almost nobody in the Strib’s reading audience does; look at the partisan breakdown of the survey’s respondents. Which is in a link buried in the middle of a sidebar, between the main article and the cloud of ads and clutter to the right of the page, far-removed from the headline and the lede graf. Which takes you to a page that notes (with emphasis added):
• The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.
That’s right – as with the Marriage Amendment numbers we looked at this morning (it’s the same survey), the Strib wants you to believe…
…well, no. I’m not sure they “want” anyone to believe anything. I’m sure they want people to read the headling and the “almost tied!” lede, and not dig too far into the numbers.
It’s part of the Democrat’s “Low-Information Voters” campaign; focus on voters who don’t dig for facts, who accept what the media tells them, who vote based on the last chanting point they heard.
Fearless prediction: On November 4, the Strib will release a “Minnesota Poll” that shows the Voter ID Amendment slightly behind, using a partisan breakdown with an absurdly high number of DFLers. It’ll be done as a sort of positive bandwagon effect – to make DFLers feel there’s a point to come out and vote against the Voter ID Amendment (and for Obama, Klobuchar, and the rest of the DFL slate, natch).
And it will be a complete lie. Voter ID will pass by 20 points, and this cycle of polling will disappear down the media memory hole like all the rest of them.
Question: Given that its entire purpose seems to be to build DFL bandwagons and discourage conservative voters, when do we start calling the “Minnesota Poll” what it seems to be – a form of vote suppression?