With the rise of bogus fact-checking, the New York Times laments that people aren’t listening any more:
But while there is arguably more fact-checking now than ever — and, thanks to the Web, more ways to independently check what candidates and campaigns say — verdicts that a campaign has crossed the line are often drowned out by dissent from its supporters, who take it upon themselves to check the checkers.
Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, said nonpartisan fact-checking groups now compete with ideologically motivated groups from both sides that consider their work to be checking facts as well. (The political campaigns also call some of their own news releases “fact-checks.”)
“The term ‘fact check’ can easily be devalued, as people throw it onto any sort of an opinion that they have,” Mr. Nyhan said. “The other problem is that the partisans who pay attention to politics are being conditioned to disregard the fact-checkers when their own side gets criticized.”
Internet Scofflaw rates this analysis “half true”. (See how easy that is?) Yes, fact-checking has been devalued as people throw onto it any sort of opinion they have; but no, there aren’t any competing nonpartisan fact-checkers.
And that’s the best part of the article. Then there’s this:
The cycle was on display at the Republican convention when Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, made a number of questionable or misleading claims in his speech. Even before he stopped speaking, some of his claims were being questioned on Twitter. Soon fact-checkers were highlighting some of the misleading statements. More partisan sites rushed to Mr. Ryan’s defense with posts finding fault with the first round of fact checks.
Internet Scofflaw rates this claim “mostly false”. Ryan did make claims in his speech that were ”questionable”, in the sense that Democrats did in fact question them. But, as it turned out, all of the “fact-checks” either were not fact but argument, or were simply wrong. This claim gives the misleading impression that Ryan might have actually said something that was false.
And then there’s this but, which the article leads with:
Mitt Romney highlighted the nation’s dire unemployment crisis, its record number of home foreclosures and the rising national debt, and showed video of President Obama delivering this arresting remark: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
There was one problem: the quotation was taken so wildly out of context that it turned Mr. Obama’s actual meaning upside-down. The truncated clip came from a speech Mr. Obama gave in 2008 talking about his opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona. The full quotation? “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’ ”
It’s a fair point. But the New York Times and other so-called fact-checkers leave out the full context as well. In fact, Obama was lying in 2008 when he attributed the statement to the McCain campaign. The statement came from a story in the New York Daily News (a liberal tabloid), which quoted an anonymous source who they described as a “top McCain strategist” making the statement. Internet Scofflaw rates this reporting “mostly true” (although, to be fair, Politifact has gone full “pants on fire” for less).