Author Archive: Bryan W. White

The week in weak fact-checking

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Mainstream fact checkers have had a terrible October so far in 2020. Their poor performance prompts this answer to the Poynter Institute’s “Factually” newsletter and its “The Week in Fact-checking” with what we’re tempted to call “The Weak in Fact-checking.” FactCheck.org Whitewashes Steele Dossier Annenberg Fact Check (FactCheck.org) chastised Republicans for citing an unverified intelligence report from Russia saying the…
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Snopes’ semantic contortions on Trump & taxes

Mainstream fact checker Snopes.com on Sept. 28, 2016 (tweeted out on its four-year anniversary) published a fact check on whether Donald Trump said not paying federal taxes made him smart. The fact check exemplifies one of the semantic games mainstream fact checkers end up playing: Interpreting claims to fit a narrative instead of giving them a natural contextual interpretation. The…
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Another International Fact-Checking Network failure on accountability

The International Fact-Checking Network has updated its system for verifying fact-checking organizations’ compliance with its “Code of Principles” in 2020. But in practice so far the new IFCN system seems no better than the one Zebra Fact Check tested in 2019. In 2019 the review of PolitiFact failed to mention complaints Zebra Fact Check submitted. The IFCN failed to deliver…
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Email outreach to Susan Benkelman of the American Press Institute

After noticing an 20-word verbatim quotation without quotation marks in the “Factually” newsletter jointly published by the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute, we emailed Susan Benkelman, the API co-author of the July 2, 2020 edition of the newsletter, to find the explanation for not clarifying the attribution and/or adding quotation marks. Benkelman directs API’s accountability journalism program. We…
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