Media fact-checking needs … fact-checking
Before we consider the reports from the growing number of media fact-checkers, we should first define what we mean by a “fact.” That is not as easy as you might think. There are hard facts, but most of what parades in the public media as a “fact” is merely an opinion.
Example: I can say that President Biden is not giving Ukraine the military support it needs. That is merely an opinion which requires “facts” to support it. If I say that President Biden has refused to release the fighter jets to Ukraine that is a fact – a hard fact – supporting my contention.
Whenever I proffer an option, I try to present hard facts that support my thesis. In between a pure opinion and a hard fact is a statement that is so obviously factual that one should not have to supply the supporting details. For example: I recently said that most race riots occur in the major cities ruled over by Democrats. A reader challenged me to prove it. For me. It was like saying that I should prove that the sun is hot. Common knowledge should be sufficient in such cases.
Since we want only the facts, we might believe that the plethora of fact-checkers would be a useful service. But in fact, they are as victimized by their own biases and inaccuracies as the folks they claim to be checking.
It is a bit like the Dr. Seuss story of the “Watchers.” It poses the question “Who will watch the Watcher?” … and then who will watch the Watch-Watcher?” And on it goes.
PunchingBagPost.com – and me — were recently the subject of one of those media watchers. They call themselves Media Bias/Fact Check (MBFC). Like all such organizations, they make elaborate claims – one might even say “arrogant claims” –about their neutrality and dedication to the truth. They offer themselves as unbiased referees of the public discourse.
Of course, they are no such thing. Their position on the political bias continuum can usually be seen rather quickly. One of the most obviously biased media observers is the very leftwing Media Matters. Check them out and you will know what I mean.
This commentary, however, is about NBFC.
Their first judgment or assessment is that PBP is a conservative news analysis operation. Since the sites’ banner-head includes the statement “News from a Conservative Perspective,” their conclusion is neither surprising nor enlightening.
Their own rating opinion ranges from extreme left to extreme right, as seen in the embedded scale. The yellow dot is us, PBP, squarely on the right. Personally, I would argue that we are more “right-Center” when you look at how they define these designations.
MBFC defines those (us) in the “Right” category thusly.
“These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.”
In terms of “factual reporting,” PBP is rated as “Mixed.” In the interest of modesty, I would rate PBP minimally in the “High” category. This is where I personally believe MBFC’s own bias is showing. Of course, they do not provide any “facts” to prove their “opinion.”
MBFC goes on to say that PBP does not provide original reports, but “rather summarizes existing stories and adds conservative commentary.” Nothing to reveal there since the PBP site says its mission is “to analyze the news for most important and most relevant stories.” For example, I am a commentator. My job is to put perspective in the news of the day – and occasionally make news.
On the other hand, PBP does produce news stories based on facts and information not found in the reports of the mainstream media. That is just a fact. In many cases, our “analysis” may deal with subjects that are in the news, but we may reveal new facts and information that have not been incorporated in general coverage.
Now, I could go on and on as to why I believe MBFC is biased in their view of PBP, but that would take an Oxford-level debate. What really got my attention was this bit of information from MBFC – you know, the folks who brag about getting the facts straight.
“The Punching Bag Post does not clearly state ownership, however, Larry Horist is the founder and presumed owner. Revenue is derived through advertising.”
If you check out the MBFC site, you will notice that it says that Larry Horist IS “the founder and presumed owner.” I am neither. I was not even involved with PBP when it was founded. I write for the site – and other conservative online sites. I produce between 40 and 50 commentaries per month. I did not find – nor do I own – PBP or any of the other sites that carry my commentaries.
I got a kick out of MBFC’s claim that the ownership is “not clearly stated.” It is not really a secret, and a phone call or an email might have gotten them the information they wanted. That is just lazy fact-checking.
Since I am easily contacted, you might think that MBFC would have made a simple inquiry before publishing a totally, provably and reckless false statement. It seems to me that any organization that would brag bout its unbiased veracity would do a better job.
But … it does explain why their “opinion” of PBP is so far off. They are not a reliable source for fact-checking. Someone needs to do a little fact-checking on MBFC. Perhaps we could find a fact-checker to check the fact-checkers.
Or maybe they could add this to their “about us” biography. “We sometimes check out the facts and occasionally get them right.”
I guess one could accuse the self-proclaimed fact-checker of maligning PBP with its biased and inaccurate summary, but that is life in the media realm. In terms of being a useful fact-checker, I like Project VERITAS over MBFC. PV busts the big lies instead of telling them. But of course, that is my conservative bias.
If I may appropriate their rating system, I would put MBFC in the “Very Low” rank on their “Factual Reporting” system. But … I did get a good laugh out of being named as the founder and owner PBP. Almost as good a laugh as the guy who really founded and owns it.
So’ there ‘tis.