The weaponizing of fact-checking

For most of American history, it has been the role of the news media to report on the five classic questions – who, what, when, where and how. Opinion – and they all have them – was left to the editorial department and named columnists … period. And even among editorial writers and columnists, it was expected that various opinions would be represented.

In terms of political reporting, the news services were generally limited to informing the public what was said by a candidate or officeholder. It was up to the opposition candidate or party to offer the rebuttal or refutation – the spin as it became known – and it was up to each of us individually to decided who we believed, who we trusted. The news media was simply to serve as the medium for the exchange.

In pre-1960s journalism schools, students were taught the ethical limitations of a truly free press – the sort of news media envisioned by our Founders when they drafted the First Amendment to protect the institution from becoming captured by partisan interests or a vehicle of the state.

Arguably, the corruption of today’s news media began – or at least became evident – in the 1960s when liberal journalism professors advocated what was then called “advocacy journalism” in which the opinions and judgments of the reporter, editor or management would be reflected in the headline stories. The epicenter of news journalism began to shift to editorialization – which is akin to propagandization.

Under the new paradigm, the reporter, news editor or producer – whether at that anchor desk, on the beat or in the back room – began to INTERPRET the facts. There was a consolidation of thinking, with staffs of predominantly one partisan or philosophic viewpoint amassing in individual news departments. This tendency of collectivization expanded into cabals of media enterprises with narrow viewpoints and political agendas.

As media bias caused the newsrooms to serve predominately as prosecutors in the court-of-public-opinion, it is only natural that they would collect, dismiss or interpret facts, statements and events to build a case in support of their bias. When taking on an advocacy role, one of the important functions is to present or refute the arguments of the opposition. In the modern media, they call it fact-checking.

While this so-called fact-checking function is claimed to be designed to properly inform the public, it has been weaponized by the most biased of the media to persuade the public to a given viewpoint. The New York Times has an entire department to perform fact-checking. CNN presents highly biased analyses by the smug and smarmy John Avlon in a segment they call “Reality Check.” MSNBC uses the fact-checking operation within the parent company, NBC.

Throughout the elitist liberal east coast media cabal – which dominates the industry — the fact-checking function has been weaponized against President Trump, members of his administration, Republican leaders and anyone who is politically conservative.

Anyone who has had any experience in court, or watches re-runs of Perry Mason, knows that the opening statements of the prosecution sound very convincing – but they lose their credibility as the defense offers up its version or interpretation of the same events and provides testimony and evidence omitted by the prosecution. This is exactly what is happening with our major media.

Among the major left-wing media, there is no opportunity for the other side – the defense, if you will — to be heard. Exculpating evidence – no matter how compelling – is suppressed by the prosecution. Witnesses who would mount a defense are never brought forward to appear on those panels of parroting pundits. Virtually all of these “witnesses” are there to reinforce the prosecutorial narratives of the networks.

The so-called fact-checking features we see as part of news programming are nothing more than a brief for the prosecution. Selective facts are used to spin a narrative with a purpose – and that purpose is to “indict” and “convict” the target of some level of misconduct – or even criminality.

Media fact-checking is not to fairly inform the public, but to purposely, intentionally and with malice of forethought to MISINFORM the public. Virtually every example of media fact-checking we see today could be headed “The Case Against Trump” and all those others the media deems to be adversarial to the prevailing narrow left-wing perspective.

Fact-checking has been weaponized by the left in a number of ways. First and foremost is the fact that they do not apply the same level of dedication and determination to all the various political actors. The media myopically focuses on discrediting Trump, Republicans and conservatives.

As the news’ prosecutors, the modern media has also become the censor of news. They decide not only what is to be put in print or on the air, but they also decide what NOT to present in their coverage. They then take the rudimentary facts and interpret them in the most negative manner possible. Essentially today’s news is one-sided reports with a prevailing leftward spin.

Though there are some elementary fact-checking on the media by media critics – although guys like CNN’s Brian Stelter spin their media critiques in harmony with the station’s biased narratives. No one is watching the watcher watching the news. There are organizations, like the Media Research Center (MRC), that push back against the gross media bias, but they do not have the same powerful platforms that are enjoyed and abused by the major left-wing media – and of course, MRC representatives are never interviewed to provide that all-important “other perspective.”

In their pursuit of creating a narrative, the fact-checkers exhibit a high degree of fact-phobia. They ignore clarifications. No matter how many times Trump says his “wall” can be modern barricades of different types, the biased press describes it as some sort of Medieval rampart – quoting where he called for a wall while totally ignoring the many times, he has said it could be different things in different places. In this case, the fact-checkers are presenting a total falsity as fact-based — the classic strawman argument.

Like any aggressive prosecutor, the #NeverTrump media attempts to destroy the credibility of any person who dares to speak out against their prosecutorial narrative. Rudy Giuliani, who was once among the most respected men in America, has been unrelentingly savaged by the media’s prosecutorial misconduct.

There can be no denying that the left-wing media cabal has only one mission – and it is not to inform the public or tell the truth. It is obsessed with promulgating public ill-will toward Trump – and also against Republicans and conservative principles. They have surrendered to the radical progressive movement – serving as their propaganda vehicles. And that’s the truth.

So, there ‘tis

About Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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