A neat thing that PolitiFact does to help create a narrative is labeling minute things that the right claims as “false,” while completely ignoring the overall story.
A solid instance happened on Monday when PolitiFact decided to tackle the viral image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez crying behind a gate at the injustices she saw beyond it. Only photos showed that she wasn’t crying over the plight of children or migrant families, it was literally an paved, empty space. It was one of the biggest jokes on AOC by AOC.
I’ll never forget this, because it was the moment I saw with my own eyes that the America I love was becoming a nation that steals refugee children from their parents,& caged them.
More kids died after this. To date, no one has been held accountable.
We need to save these kids. https://t.co/HhdMqc5zML
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 25, 2019
Searched Grabien’s PhotoBank and found these alternate angle pics of @AOC where her sad-face pics were shot. Apparently she was crying about the lack of migrant children for her photo op. pic.twitter.com/8FMB8OQR6K
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 26, 2019
For all intents and purposes, the fervor around the photos had worn down because a joke is only funny for so long. For some reason, however, PolitiFact still isn’t over it, and wanted to rate the right’s claim about it.
Well…they wanted to rate part of it.
PolitiFact rated the claim by the right that AOC was crying over a parking lot as “False” because she wasn’t crying over a parking lot, it was a road:
A viral image of Ocasio-Cortez at a 2018 demonstration at a Texas town on the U.S.-Mexico border includes the caption, “AOC weeps over empty parking lot.”
Photographers at the scene who took photos of Ocasio-Cortez say she was not facing a parking lot. Rather she was just beyond the port of entry for the Tornillo facility, and she standing on a road that led to the Tornillo tent complex, which was in the line of her gaze, as she stood at the fence. Pictures by other outlets also confirm the location.
We rate this claim False.
Well, thanks be to our benevolent information distribution overlords. With this information in hand we now know that the right are a bunch of lying liars with lie about everything. Telling us she was staring at a parking lot when it was really a road. How vile.
Just a reminder, this is the same PolitiFact that wanted to remind you that memes aren’t real, like the kind you see of Joe Biden photoshopped into kissing women from behind.
Here’s the kicker, however. Whether they meant to or not, PolitiFact is misleading people. Many people may see the headline and decide right off the bat that the claim that AOC was crying over nothing is false and reaffirm that what she saw was horrific, thus making her a more credible source in their minds.
PolitiFact is splitting hairs. So what if it was a road and not a parking lot? That’s a difference that could be hashed out in a Twitter thread by randoms arguing over semantics, but for a website supposedly dedicated to routing out the truth, this seems like a minor point to put focus on. That they spent time on it at all seems a bit weird till you read the headline they used.
“No, this isn’t a photo of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez crying over a parking lot,” it says in big, bold letters.
They’re not wrong, but it’s a bit vague on the point. Anyone reading the headline may walk away with the impression that AOC was actually crying over something substantial. They don’t need to click and read, they have all the information they need.
And that, folks, is how a false narrative is fostered.