Yesterday, I posted (here | here) on the ridiculous “fact checking” fetish in the media. This project, coated with a patina of public service, has actually and predictably resulted in the left successfully turning it into a weapon with which to attack the GOP. President Trump scored the “true but false” from the Washington Post’s fact checker. When CBS News discovered that President Trump had understated the number of sexual assaults on illegal immigrant women, they deleted the fact check. Routinely, GOP politicians have their opinions rated as false. What the media refuses to do is to give equitable treatment to Democrats. Obama’s “if you like your doctor” quote was rated as “completely true” by PolitiFact. It was only a few years later, after Obamacare was law and no damage was possible, that they rated it “lie of the year.”
Now that the toothy Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has arrived on the national scene and is given to making exotic statements on a regular basis, and because she is not particularly beloved by the institutional Democrat party, some fact checkers have focused on her. And she’s not doing all that well. This is her PolitiFact record:
This is from the Washington Post:
I suppose the arrival of any sorta charismatic figure on the national scene produces a non-trivial number of people willing to swear that the baby-poo they just ate was actually butterscotch. I’m old enough to remember Ron Paul supporters and then…I sh** you not…Mitt Romney fanatics stalking through the RedState diaries and comments section proclaiming every utterance by those worthies to be totally the Gospel. And then we had hard core Trump fans. In all cases, the one thing they had in common was being able to find a larger truth in no matter what statement their flavor du jour uttered. Clearly, Democrat freshman phenomenon, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, is such a person and she has attracted a sizable following among millenial progressives, incels, and other vulnerable followers of politics. This has led her fan club to decide that fact checking is unfair:
Early last month, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did a bad tweet. After misreading an article in the Nation on the Pentagon’s accounting errors, Ocasio-Cortez falsely claimed that the Defense Department had wasted enough money over the past two decades to finance 66 percent of Medicare for All. This was an innocent mistake. The congresswoman had cited her source, and linked to it, making it easy for fact-checkers to uncover her error — and thus, for Anderson Cooper to call attention to her “fuzzy math” on this week’s 60 Minutes.
Confronted with her month-old mistake, Ocasio-Cortez replied, “If people want to really blow up one figure here or one word there, I would argue that they’re missing the forest for the trees. I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.” In the 24 hours after her interview aired, the congresswoman argued that it was unclear what standards fact-checkers use when determining which truths and falsehoods to spotlight — and thus, absent good discretion, fact-checkers could actually bias public discourse by drawing disproportionate attention to progressives’ misstatements.
He then suggests a standard using, naturally, a quote by Her Toothiness:
Facts are facts, America. We should care about getting things right. Yet standards of who gets fact-checked, how often + why are unclear.
This is where false equivalency+bias creeps in, allowing climate deniers to be put on par w/scientists, for example.https://t.co/87c6kVzIuI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2019
Note that the link in the tweet is to a Slate article decrying “false equivalence”:
In an era when the president of the United States is an inveterate, habitual, daily liar, about all things great and small, and especially about himself, fact-checking sites can provide an invaluable — if increasingly overwhelmed — public service. Though the siloing off of this core function of journalism still presents, I’d submit, something of a moral hazard — the implication being that the existence of a distinct fact-check team alleviates political beat reporters from the responsibility of meticulously calling out spin and falsehoods on a routine basis — there are resource benefits to having a dedicated team focused on separating fact from fiction.
This does not mean, however, that fact-check journalism in the corporate press is free from the institutional pressures of “both sides” objectivity. Precisely because of President Trump’s unprecedented propensity to lie, there can be a latent urge among fact-checkers to find similar examples of dishonesty among the left, to provide some semblance of “fairness.” And, at times, these efforts can devolve into obtuse, bad-faith examples of nitpicking and false equivalence.
Such was the case last week, when the Washington Post ran a lengthy fact-check about a Sunday tweet from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her tweet, which highlighted an academic study in an exclusive story at the Nation, drew a direct comparison between $21 trillion in unsupported Defense Department budget adjustments over an 18-year period and the projected $32 trillion cost of implementing Medicare for All over the next decade. Roughly 10 hours later — after the post went viral, racking up thousands of retweets (which is common for her) — she replied to the initial tweet with a quote from the Nation story and a clarification: “this is to say that we only demand fiscal details w/ health+edu, rarely elsewhere.”
If you check my posts on the subject, you’ll find I document instances where conservatives have used the correct numbers and still given a “false” rating because the fact checkers didn’t like the implications of the numbers.
There is no false equivalence here. There is no double standard. Ocasio Cortez is charismatic and hard working. But she’s woefully ignorant about virtually everything and is the product of a social milieu where having the right feelings about something entitles you to simply make up bullsh** numbers about the subject (like sexual assault on campus of the current favorite that illegals are more law abiding than citizens) and having the right genitalia and ancestry allows you to completely avoid being challenged on anythin. What is working against her is that she knocked off a very senior member of the Democrat House hierarchy and she’s impatient to make her mark on the House while on the fast track to presidency. That isn’t sitting well with the Democrat establishment, which includes the media. That dissatisfaction and Ocasio Cortez’s background and her newfound addiction to television cameras have combined to make her easy pickings for
Her fanbois have their knickers knotted over the fact that everyone isn’t just like them, nodding their heads and transfixed with amazement at Ocasio Cortez’s brilliance. This steady drip of wildly untrue statements documented by Democrat media is going to start sticking to her unless she learns to shut up and get smart on some aspects of public policy. I don’t think either of those options are all that likely.