Liberal Fact-Checker Lead Stories Fails to Fact-Check Dem Debate Clash

March 23rd, 2020 4:14 PM

If liberal fact-checker Lead Stories finds a fact that's inconvenient, it just ignores it.

Lead Stories, one of Facebook’s official third-party fact-checkers, failed to fact-check the contentious Democratic debate between former Vice President Joe Biden (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on March 15.

Lead Stories ignored the debate and its many controversial statements entirely. The Washington Post published an entire article of fact-checks on issues ranging from super PACs to abortion support.

The New York Times accused Biden of “struggling to explain — and in some cases misrepresenting — his past record on matters like funding Social Security and the war in Iraq” and quoted Bernie Sanders’ critique, “You’ve condemned super PACs. You’ve got a super PAC. It’s running negative ads.”

Lead Stories did none of that.

The most recent fact-check Lead Stories had tweeted about Biden specifically was a March 21 post that “Joe Biden Did NOT Test Positive For Coronavirus, As African Hoax Website Claims,” as of the writing of this article on March 23.

The most recent fact-check regarding Sanders specifically was defending his record, alleging that he did not march with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara. A review of Lead Stories’s website for recent fact-check pieces featuring Biden and Sanders revealed a March 17 fact-check that “Italy Has NOT Mandated No Treatment Of All Elderly With Coronavirus.”

In that particular fact-check piece, Lead Stories segued from a discussion about Italy’s handling of the coronavirus to slamming President Donald Trump and contrasting the two Democratic primary frontrunners’ policy positions on universal health care:

With President Trump, who has declared a national emergency, up for reelection in November, the issue of universal health care has been a major issue. Competing Democratic candidates - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden - have fallen on different sides of that issue, with Biden advocating for a mixed private-public health care system, and Sanders championing Medicare for All.

Lead Stories is unsurprisingly liberal and employs at least eight former CNN staffers to produce its fact checks and they perform 76 percent of the fact-checks. Lead Stories published a whopping 296 fact-checks between January 1, 2020 and March 9, 2020. Of those 296 fact-checks, only 12 were from left-leaning social media users and news outlets, whereas, 55 entries were from right-leaning social media users and news outlets.

Lead Stories is one of nine fact-checkers chosen by Facebook’s program to include politically “diverse” viewpoints by outsourcing the platform’s fact-checking to other companies.

Facebook Product Manager Henry Silverman wrote in a December 17 blog post “Helping Fact-Checkers Identify False Claims Faster” explaining that the program will “allow fact-checkers to quickly see whether a representative group of Facebook users found a claim to be corroborated or contradicted.”