Zebra Fact Checks

Fact checks and commentary articles that fact check fact checkers

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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Notes on the International Fact-Checking Network’s upcoming annual review of PolitiFact

Zebra Fact Check documented the International Fact-Checking Network’s 2019 failure to hold its stable of “verified” fact-checking organizations to account. PolitiFact, which shares ownership with the IFCN, was notable in escaping scrutiny. The IFCN has yet to explain those failures, but coincidentally or otherwise it revised its Code of Principles in December 2019 along with its methods for verifying compliance…
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An Unhealthy ‘PolitiFact Health Check’

This week PolitiFact, with its franchise partner Kaiser Health News, published what was, in effect, a fact check of a prediction by President Barack Obama. “PolitiFact Health Check” awarded Mr. Obama a “True” rating for his prediction. Spoiler: For good reason, fact checkers usually try to avoid doing fact checks on predictions. A Trump Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn the ACA?…
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Scandal: Fact Checkers Fail at Accountability

complaint to the international fact-checking network about PolitiFact

The International Fact-Checking Network’s Epic Fail on Fact-Checking Accountability It’s a scandal when an accountability organization fails to provide accountability. After years of finding fault with mainstream media fact checkers, especially PolitiFact, it came as welcome news in 2018 that the International Fact-Checking Network would institute a formal system for registering complaints about its stable of fact-checking organizations. A properly…
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Email outreach regarding IFCN error reporting on Pew Research findings

In July 2019, Zebra Fact Check discovered an error in the International Fact-Checking Network’s coverage of a Pew Research survey. The IFCN-published story falsely said “Almost half of Americans believe that fact checkers are biased, and the majority of those skeptics are Republican.” Pew Research data apparently do not support the latter proposition. Zebra Fact Check received no reply to…
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PolitiFact’s subjective treatment of Val Demings

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion,” said the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, “but not to his own facts.” Fact checkers like PolitiFact have a way around Moynihan’s maxim. They first choose which claim to check, then choose how to check the claim. Both steps feature subjective judgments. The end result? The fact checkers choose their own facts. PolitiFact’s Feb….
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A Trifecta of Fact Checker Error on IG Report

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The so-called “elite three” mainstream fact checkers, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker, all followed the mainstream press in making a serious error reporting on the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation. What the IG Report Said The IG report repeatedly said investigators failed to find “documentary or testimonial evidence” of political bias. But the…
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