Senator Supports Idea Of Government-Backed Fact Checker

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Maine Sen. Angus King said Thursday that a government supported fact-checker would be a good idea in order to “educate our people” about what they should believe on the internet.

The comments from the independent senator came during a hearing by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the presidential election. One of the witnesses at the hearing, national security expert Clint Watts, spoke at length about what he sees as the influence of fake news.

He even said that this fake news influenced President Trump. “He has made claims about voter fraud, that President Obama is not a citizen, that [Senator Ted] Cruz is not a citizen,” Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said.

Before the hearing, Watts published an opinion piece at The Daily Beast in which he outlined his analysis on Russian interference. There he wrote about potential defenses against this interference. One of these defenses was that that the U.S. “should generate immediate public refutations to false Russian claims by creating two official government webpages acting as a U.S. government ‘Snopes’ for disarming falsehoods.”

“The U.S. State Department would host a website responding to false claims regarding U.S. policy and operations outside U.S. borders,” Watts wrote. “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would host a parallel website responding to any and all false claims regarding U.S. policy and operations domestically—a particularly important function in times of emergency where Russian Active Measures have been observed inciting panic.”

Sen. King said during the hearing that the U.S. has to develop better “digital literacy.”

“We have to educate our people that they can’t believe everything that they read on the internet,” the Maine senator said, adding, “Part of that is I think your very creative suggestion of a kind of Snopes, an expanded Snopes, to check the validity so people at least know, okay there’s some likelihood that that is untrue.”

The Daily Caller has previously reported how Snopes, a fact-checking website, employes liberals almost exclusively.

UPDATE: King’s spokeswoman Kathleen Connery Dawe told The Daily Caller, “Senator King didn’t during the hearing, or does he now, endorse a government fact-checker. The exchange at the hearing involved a private fact-checker similar to Consumer Reports.”