Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why Doesn't The Right Have a Fact-Check Organ?

If you look in to fact-checking you will quickly realize that all ("all") the fact checkers are either associated with main-stream (i.e. liberal) newspapers and/or accused of having an innately liberal bias. Since Facebook is about to start relying on fact checkers to flag fake-news, couldn't they maybe get some conservative sources in there too?

The Awful Truth: There Aren't Any

Oh, sure, there are some things that kind of appear to be fact-checkers on the right ( has a fact checker page that is anything but real/true) but in the game? for real? No. The right has no celebrated fact checker organization to turn to.


It Would Hurt More Than It Helps

A right-wing fact-check org could provide a needed service in, for example, outing fake hate-crimes. It could provide a look at the stat-based truth around organizations like Planned Parenthood. A conservative fact-checker could provide a strong counter-narrative to the liberal perspective.

The problem with all of this is that:

  1. This is just what the conservative media does when it gets things right. The first (hoax-hate-crimes) is where you'll find the investigative journalism aimed by right-wing sources. The perspective issue isn't a fact-check situation at all. That's just Op-Ed pieces.
  2. It would hurt more than it helps. Suppose that a right-wing fact-checker decided to see what services Planned Parenthood provides--by the numbers--you get something like this: Planned Parenthood Services Fact Check. This makes it clear that trying to sound-bite a 94%-of-the-services-performed-are-abortions isn't nearly that cut and dried (by over-all services it may be closer to 12%--although impact-wise, they do, yes, perform a lot of abortions. Some of those additional services are, for example, pregnancy tests). The point is: if you are interested in making a political point, muddying the water isn't helpful.
Above all else, the right-wing media exists to be helpful to right wing politics.

Seriously? Above All Else?

Well, yeah. Duh. The right-wing media exists to further conservative causes. The problem is that when you have news in the service of politics you get necessary distortions. The right created right-wing media because they felt that they were not being served by, just, "the media" which they see as an agent of the left.

Is it? The answer is no. The Mainstream Media certainly is composed of people with biases, much of whom are on the left (overwhelmingly, in fact)--but the main process of the Mainstream Media is the practice of actual journalism. For example, the Washington Post reached out to a fake news site for comment--even though it was cursory and pro forma. The Intercept (so far left it's out of the Mainstream) wrote about the same site but never attempted contact (this included an article imputing motive to the site).

One is a basic journalistic practice. One isn't.

So long as the foundational elements of journalistic practice are in place in a news organization, it's going to be fundamentally resistant to the kind of politicized fabrication that the right suffers from. NOTE: Fox News counts as actual journalism. They have a fact-checking organ, they have a reputational stake in reporting real news, they may not excel at investigative journalism but they practice it. They are also within the sphere of the Mainstream Media (if, in some cases, only barely).

So that's why they don't have fact checks: doing so would create more uncertainty about their political positions than not doing so.

Isn't The Same True of Liberal Positions?

Not in the same way. For example, the liberal position on gun control is based on the (true) position that if mass shooters couldn't get their hands on guns they would be far less effective. The plans to prevent potential shooters from getting any kind of gun are generally non-starters--but that doesn't change the fact that the basis of the argument is true.

If you attack the argument that "Without access to guns, the killer would be less effective," you are going to have to lie to some degree. If you are going to grant the facts--but attack the methods--you are on much firmer ground (stopping potential shooters from getting guns is, in fact, very hard and probably unconstitutional)--but the GOP doesn't always fight on that front.

The default on the Debt Limit was another example: if  you want to argue that America not-paying-its-debt is anything other than catastrophic, you are going to lose to fact-checks. If you want to argue that Obama once spoke out against raising the debt ceiling, you are going to have a much easier time. The GOP wanted to fight more on the first front than the second: fact-checking is not your friend there.


If you go look at Conservapedia you can see, quickly, the kind of problem that fact-based narratives have compared to Wikipedia. Wikipedia does, almost certainly, have a left-bias. Conservapedia is a mess of birtherism, homosexual agenda conspiracy theory, and creationism. It's not a good mix.


  1. Very interesting point. I'm said to say that when I use PolitiFact I often find the Right being at least partially untruthful. It's why I've stepped away from the GOP and gone independent. One area that I think the mainstream does though is that while it should (rightfully) attack Breitbart, it turns a blind eye to Occupy Democrats.

    1. Note that Occupy Democrats gets traffic rate 1008 in the US. 45. Basically they're not in the same class.