Even Leftists Can Be Right About Opinionated 'Fact Checkers'

Listen to the Article!

Conservatives are not going to agree with a lot of points in The New Republic -- and it's more liberal than it used to be in the last century. But there's some common ground when it comes to the media's "fact-checking" operations. Staff writer Alex Pareene is seriously unhappy with the treatment of socialist Bernie Sanders: 

Bernie Sanders said, “Three people [in this country] own more wealth than the bottom half of America.” And Glenn Kessler, who leads The Washington Post's “Fact Checker” blog, wrote, “This snappy talking point is based on numbers that add up.” But Kessler, having checked the fact and confirmed that it was true, for some reason continued checking. “People in the bottom half have essentially no wealth,” he helpfully pointed out. “So the comparison is not especially meaningful.”

That seems like a judgment call best left to, say, a “meaning-checker,” but Kessler, a former business section editor who happens to be a descendant of Royal Dutch Shell and Procter & Gamble executives—an actual member of the American elite and a likely member of the one percent—makes Sanders the regular target of his attempts to police the bounds of acceptable political realities from his perch at The Washington Post.

Okay, I started laughing at the idea of Kessler as some sort of One-Percent plutocrat. But this tendency of fact-checkers pulling the "True, but" tactic? It underlines Pareene's attack on Kessler as "a centrist columnist disguised as a fact checker." Their opinions are oozing all over their "facts." Pareene also complained: 

When Senator Cory Booker, for instance, made an entirely factual statement about American gun violence, Kessler took issue, again, with Booker’s premise, calling it “facile” (raising the question, once more, of whether we are reading the “Fact Checker” or the “Superficiality Checker”)....

The trouble is, fact-checkers have expanded their purview from checking strictly empirical statements to “checking” contestable political statements. As a result, Trump’s most glaring whoppers—such as his ludicrous suggestion last April that wind turbines cause cancer—appear no different than Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s contention that it’s morally wrong to pay people less than a living wage.

Okay, stop. Kessler wasn't checking AOC's morality. He was checking her wild overstatement that "a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage." There's some moral/philosophical room in the idea of a "living wage," but a "vast majority" of Americans wouldn't tell a pollster they can't live on their wages. 

It would be better for the "fact checkers" if they stuck to more "strictly empirical" factual claims, instead of spending so much time in gray areas. And while Pareene resents Kessler picking on Bernie and AOC, the Left is getting nothing from the Post that resembles their "15,000 false or misleading" count for Trump statements (and re-statements). The targeting shows an obvious liberal bias -- much like the rest of the liberal media content. 

Washington Post Fact-checking fact-checkers Glenn Kessler Bernie Sanders Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
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