As the practice of traditional journalism has slowly evaporated, a few websites have tried to fill the “gatekeeper” gap–fact-checking assertions, and verifying or debunking the urban legends and memes that travel so quickly in our connected, social media age.
We have Snopes.com and Factcheck.org and Politifact.com–all of which are helpful, if ultimately inadequate, resources for those of us who want to check the “facts” in crazy Uncle Ray’s latest email before forwarding it on to other unsuspecting folks.
The more mendacious members of our political class are less than enthusiastic about these resources. I recently stumbled across this description of Ted Cruz’ reaction to Politifact.
In fact, Ted Cruz has an absolutely abysmal record on Politifact for telling the truth. Out of the 36 comments they’ve fact-checked on Cruz, an astonishing 67 percent of them have been rated as “Mostly False” all the way down to “Pants on Fire.” And out of all 36 of those comments, only one has been rated as “True.” That lone statement was one he made where he was trying to fear-monger about government regulations being so bad that they regulate toilet seats.
Yes, the only 100% true statement Ted Cruz has made out of the 36 that have been fact-checked by Politifact was about toilet seats.
Politifact also recently fact-checked a bit on the Daily Show, in which Jon Stewart ran a too-fast-to-read stream he identified as 50 recent lies from Fox News. If you are interested in slowing down the stream, in order to see what it was that Fox said and the results of Politifact’s research, click on the link. If you don’t have time, I’ll just tell you that (surprise!) all 50 of the Fox assertions ranged from “false” to “pants on fire.”
Whatever the hell Fox is, it isn’t “news.” It isn’t even legitimate commentary.
The problem is, we’re losing real news. We have propaganda outlets like Fox, and we have pathetic remnants of traditional journalism like the Star, ignoring the watchdog function in favor of “reporting” focused upon sports and where to buy craft beer.
Without real reporters doing real journalism, our elected officials make deals in the dark, and politicians–and propaganda outlets– feel free to lie.