Though it has been popular for years, I think the media buzz about these truth-seekers went into overdrive with Paul Ryan’s massively deceptive address to the Republican National Convention.
That night, he had fact-checkers live-tweeting corrections throughout his speech. And because of that, the mainstream media felt more comfortable in calling him out on lies like Obamacare funnelling $716 billion out of Medicare (Politifact.com gave it a “Mostly False” rating) and Obama breaking a promise to keep a GM plant open (it closed before he came into office).
The folks from Politifact.com have been doing the same to Democrats in their convention this week. For example, they rated the progressive talking point that Massachusets was 47th in job creation under Romney’s leadership. They put that statement as “Half True.”
I don’t mean to lionize the fact-checkers. Like all journalists, they are capable of making glaring mistakes — and believe me they get called out from pundits on both sides when they do. In fact, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who I am a huge fan of, called Politifact.com a joke that debases the meaning of the word fact.
Despite all that, I can’t begin to express how great it is that so many news agencies are starting fact-checking operations.
In the era of unlimited campaign contributions and partisan media, America’s political discourse needs sites like FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker Blog, and Alabama needs sites like BamaFactCheck.com.
So many people have immersed themselves in news media that only reinforce their own opinions. And thanks to that, people end up debating the most fundamental facts and never get past them. Or worse, they just give up and don’t debate anything.
American voters need a referee to say to pundits and spin doctors, “Sorry. That’s BS.”
Sure, a lot of people aren’t going to believe the fact-checkers no matter how many Congressional Budget Office reports the journalists cite. But that’s not the point. It is the duty of the fourth estate to provide society with the information it needs to be free and self-governing. What the citizens do with it is their own business.
Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle and a Walker County native. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org