Fact Checkers Disappear on Susan Rice Incident
by Christopher R Barron
Probably the single most corrosive development in modern media is the one that sounds the best – the fact checker. Who could disagree with the idea that while we are all entitled to our own opinion, we aren’t entitled to our own set of facts? What could possibly go wrong when the mainstream media puts an emphasis on finding the truth?
Well, it turns out, plenty could wrong.
It is not the first time a media “innovation” turned out to be a disaster. Fact checkers are the new media critics. An idea that sounds great in theory, but turns out to be a disaster in practice. The idea that the media would police themselves certainly sounded good in theory, sadly media critic is now code word for the main stream media’s groupthink enforcement police.
The reason why the fact checker is just as pointless and counter-productive as the media critic is exactly the same – human nature.
All of us have our own built in biases – we are humans after all. It is not robots serving as fact-checkers, it is not a computer program, it is a human being. And even the most well meaning fact checker will have his or her coverage colored by those biases.
If only we were simply dealing with a question of how to ferret out built in biases from a well-intentioned media.
Unfortunately, it’s much worse than that because sadly we aren’t dealing with well meaning fact checkers. The role of fact checker at most of the major outlets bizarrely seems to have been taken on by some of the most partisan voices in the media who rarely even try to hide their own biases in their coverage.
And it’s not just the formal fact-checkers, rank and file reporters across the main stream media now feel it is their personal responsibility to weigh in on the veracity of a claim – especially if that claim is made by Donald Trump. We are treated to instant fact checks from hoards of media types on any and everything the President or someone in his administration says.
They pour over the President’s tweets gleefully “fact-checking” every syllable. Any and every ambiguity is resolved against the President and his allies. And the presumption in every instance is that the President is lying and has the burden of proof to establish beyond a doubt that he isn’t.
Interestingly, the fact-checkers are a lot less zealous in their pursuit of the truth, however, when that truth doesn’t fit with their own narrative.
No where has the fact-checkers biases been more apparent than in the coverage of the revelation that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice requested the identities (unmasking) of Americans in intelligence reports on dozens of occasions connected to the Trump campaign and the Trump transition.
This revelation came after Rice told the public – just last month – that she had no idea this type of surveillance was even happening:
“Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, whose “fact-checking” would make Orwell blush, avoided giving Rice his patented four Pinnochios for her blatant lie and instead dedicated an entire column to fact-checking the “Trumpian spin” on the issue.
CNN has been even more shameless in their coverage. Rather than actually covering the Rice story and her blatant lie, CNN has attempted a farcical political sleight of hand. The network has treated its viewers to wall-to-wall coverage and speculation about not what Rice said or did but instead about how President Trump is still apparently wrong in his claim that the Obama White House wiretapped Trump Tower.
The sad truth is that CNN – whose business model seems to be predicated on being the go-to network for the most unhinged of Trump’s critics – either can’t or won’t cover the Rice lie because it doesn’t fit with the anti-Trump propaganda that the network passes off as “news” on a daily basis.
Trust in the media is at an all-time low – and deservedly so. If the mainstream media wants to regain the trust of the American people they can dispense with the fact-checkers and just give us the facts – and they can start with Susan Rice.