Truth is beauty and beauty is truth and it’s really beautiful when you can manipulate the truth to suit your own ends.
Welcome to the world of PolitiFact – and every other “fact-checking” service operating today.
To begin with, the entire premise of “fact-checking” is ludicrous as it is based on the idea that media outlets do not – and do not need to – automatically start from a factual basis for their reporting.
As an editor once said to me: “Just because someone says something doesn’t mean you have to put it in the paper.”
If the media followed this one simple rule, there would be no need for “fact-checking” at all.
But the media does not and will not follow this rule because printing lies – as long as they are said by a government official the media likes or about an official they don’t like – is now an integral part of the industry.
Lies from government officials and lies from nonprofit and advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations (who directly pay news outlets for the “coverage” of an issue they are involved in) are all waived through as gospel. And these types of lies – lies they agree with – tend not to get “fact-checked” anyway, making the entire process even more dangerously absurd.
It’s dangerous because a “true” rating is just that: something has been determined to be true and can therefore never be questioned again or something is mostly true so any error can be tied back to an accidental misspeak. And then this “truth” can be spread as 100 percent Grade-A verified fact, no matter whether it actually is or not. It has received an imprimatur from on high and that’s that.
Problematic truths that are so obviously true are dealt with in a slightly different manner – they are “contexted” into being false.
The process seems pretty simple: Person outside the power structure says X, person inside the power structure says Y, so therefore X is false. Person inside the power structure says X, person also inside, but lower down and/or “expert,” the power structure says X so therefore X is true.
In searching through a random assortment of “fact-checks,” that process appears to happen time and time again.
Let’s start with one quick example – money was set aside in the Biden Infrastructure bill last year to create a system that would enable your car to tell if you’re drunk (without one of those blow tubes) and not let the car start if you were. The concept was immediately criticized as being a government-mandate “kill switch” for every new car after 2035 or thereabout.
Each of the “fact-checking” services quickly and thoroughly said no, no that’s not true, it’s not a “kill switch.” And they quoted an auto safety expert saying so.
Of course, the experts were already in a partnership with the government to develop the technology in question and said that the data collected by the vehicle would “never leave the vehicle” and that the system is not currently envisioned as a law enforcement tool.
Therefore, the “kill switch” story was false.