Fact-Checking Has Flourished. But It’s More Complicated Than It Looks.

Our chaotic political moment seems to have cast doubt on the trustworthiness of almost any information emanating from anywhere. As a result, the fact-checking trend in journalism—an externalized form of the procedures journalists apply to their own work all the time—has flourished in the past couple of years.

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One thought on “Fact-Checking Has Flourished. But It’s More Complicated Than It Looks.

  • January 14, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Bruenig cherry picks two anecdotes that might be typical of fact-check errors but does not address the underlying reason fact checks tend are unreliable. She does not address motive.

    Journalists, editors and publishers have presumed for themselves a mantle of righteous motive and will not be questioned on the matter. To question their motives is a direct attack on the First Amendment, many imply or outright allege when public officials call out bias.

    Why does AP represent analysis as fact checking? A sympathetic view might notice tha, in the anecdote Breunig selected, AP’s “error” assigned fault to both sides. How could that be a bias driven error, right?

    Since the public is too ignorant to understand how media works, and idiots like me who think journalists often hold deep-seated political views (based on no more evidence than a couple decades of working alongside fellow journalists who held deep-seated political views that informed their work product) are probably driven by bias in the other direction, it’s probably not worth pointing out that the way propaganda outlets maintain credibility in a free-speech context is to embed partisan messages amid a stream of messages that otherwise appear equally sympathetic or critical of both sides. Shape messaging to emphasize factual truth, while systematically embedding partisan analysis under the flag of factual representation.

    Fact checking in modern journalism serves four primary purposes:
    1. to emphasize the outlet’s credibility.
    2. to discredit other outlets or sources.
    3. as Breuenig explains, to convey an air of journalistic authority on analytic narratives.
    4. to advance an outlet’s ideological agenda


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