NewsBusters Podcast: When 'Fact Checkers' Sound Like Lefty Columnists

December 15th, 2023 11:59 PM

They describe themselves as "independent fact-checkers," but they're not. They sound like liberal columnists, which is why conservatives and Republicans disdain their partisan rulings. Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren have been "fact checked" very, very differently in the last decade.

On today's podcast, media analyst Alex Christy discusses the chapter he wrote with Brent Baker in the new book A Future for the News.

In the Trump years, CNN (and PBS) host Christiane Amanpour proclaimed  that “now more than ever, we need real reporting” mantra. The New York Times did that “now more than ever” advertising when Trump came in to build a hard-left subscriber base. It underlines who they always think the threat is.

But then you turn the clock back to 2012. Mitt Romney’s pollster Neil Newhouse caused a ruckus when he said “we’re not toing to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." This caused Neil Brown at PolitiFact to say “This fact checking business it turns out makes partisans very uncomfortable.” We see this laughable line from liberal journalists. You’re partisan and we're not.

We like to use the Cruz vs. Warren comparison, since both were elected in 2012 -- one celebrated by conservative Republicans, the other by liberal Democrats. Through June, Cruz drew 156 fact checks, and 105 of them (67 percent) were ruled as "Mostly False," "False," or "Pants on Fire." Warren drew only 35 fact checks, and only six of them (17 percent) were on the "False" side.

I updated Alex that since June, Cruz drew three more fact checks, and two of the three were on the "False" side, keeping his bad ratio in place. Warren hasn't had a check since June. In fact, there's been only one Warren fact-check since February of 2020. Overall, 27 of her 35 fact checks came in 2019 and the first two months of 2020, when she was a presidential candidate. (She never drew an official ruling on her claim to be Cherokee.)

It's not just PolitiFact that betrays a bias. We discuss how Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post "Fact Checker" project counted more than 30,000 "false or misleading" statements by President Trump, and promptly discontinued a database when Biden came in. Because that's what liberals and their "fact checkers" do -- imply all the lies and misinformation happens when conservatives and Republicans express themselves. 

Enjoy the podcast below, or wherever you listen to podcasts.