Posts over the next several days will show that certain left-leaning websites and existing left-leaning news organizations have figured out that they can employ the technique of "fact-checking," perhaps once nobly intended, as a handy device to advance a left-supporting, right-bashing agenda.
Further, these "fact checkers" have taken advantage of their platforms to select and evaluate politicians' and pundits' claims in a decidedly unfair and unbalanced manner. Finally, thanks to the willing cooperation of the world's dominant search engine and the leader in social media, "fact checkers" are transitioning into roles which could ultimately position them as de facto news censors.
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Sharyl Attkisson, formerly of CBS News until her superiors decided she was actually doing her job in covering the Obama administration's various scandals, has provided a very interesting and quite handy rendering of where key media outlets stand on the left-right continuum.
Here it is. Attkisson identified her underlying sources, and indicated that the placements were "based on perceived overall tone and audience" (click on the graphic to enlarge in a separate window or tab):
Readers can and certainly will quibble over how far to the right and left of center certain outlets are. But with the exception of Reuters, which has no business being placed in the center, the chart generally places these entities on the correct side of center.
One unfortunate observation should be immediately obvious. The control over the news narrative and news selection priorities still resides largely on the left. For all of their considerable and richly deserved problems, the Associated Press, the Big Three TV networks, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, all of which are decisively to the left of center, still have far more collective strength than the news outlets seen on right, only two of which — the Wall Street Journal and Fox News — have comparable reach and influence.
There's a second observation to be made which is perhaps far more important: Almost all of the major sites holding themselves out as "fact-checkers" lean decisively left.
Duke University, at its ReportersLab.org website, maintains a database of worldwide fact-checking sites and has identified 43 active U.S.-based outlets (out of 115 worldwide) which claim to be or to have fact-checking operations. It claims that the "database tracks more than 100 non-partisan organizations around the world that regularly publish articles or broadcast segments that assess the accuracy of statements made by public officials, political parties, candidates, journalists, news organizations, associations and other groups."
One would think that Duke's U.S. listings might average out to be in the center. They do not.
Here is Attkisson's chart, re-presented with black boxes around and light yellow shading in all of the prominent U.S.-based entities Duke includes in its fact-checking database:
Duke identified roughly 20 outlets at the ten boxed entities as "fact-checkers" (Politifact has roughly ten state-specific sites in addition to its primary national site). All at the very least lean left, and all but one are quite decisively to the left. The remaining sites Duke identified are predominantly local or state-based operations at entities not seen in the chart above.
Duke's characterization of these news outlets as individually or collectively non-partisan is obviously a sick joke. Additionally, as I noted on Wednesday, according to Joseph Curl at the Daily Wire, Google has engaged nutty-left Buzzfeed and far-far-left Salon.com to ferret out "fake news" and false claims.
The message here is that any time one sees a post from a "fact-checking" operation other than Politifact (whose entire mission is agenda-driven "fact-checking"), it's being written from a leftist perspective, and is therefore overwhelmingly likely to reach conclusions and make evaluations that are as unfair and unbalanced — or worse — than the underlying entity's typically awful beat reporting.
It would be bad enough if what is shown in the post represented the entire scope of the problem. It doesn't. Future posts will show that left-driven organizations are using their "fact-checking" operations as a way to get around normal standards of news coverage to select only the items they wish to criticize, and that their selection methods are on the cusp of turning into de facto censorship tools at the world's dominant search engine and the world's major social media site.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.