A letter to Zebra Fact Check

Here’s a contact note we received in January:

First off, get with the program and implement SSL. Why would I give my regular name and email to someone who won’t protect my identity to the most basic of security requirements. Having said that, please finish reading. You are doing good work. This stuff pisses people off because it is push back in an area they own. Ramp it up and get serious for 2016. You need better web development and security. Fact checking is stupid but effective. Think low information voters. They eat this stuff. We need to respond in kind. Get your site up to par and get funds. Get researches. Don’t get caught out on a limb, and provide some decent security. That Kessler Romeny aide reading was brutal. That’s getting caught out on a limb, and for what? What did you score there? Kessler saw his target and hit it. I’m sure he loved it. Get up to shape, get committed, find a marketing plan, enact it, find a editorial board, enact it, find funding, use it, find an IT team, use it, an hit back in 2016. Do better, be better, win.


To which we reply, point by point:

  1. ┬áSSL! We’ve sacked the IT guy.
  2. Thanks for saying we’re doing good work.
  3. We’re serious about every year, but we’re not focused on winning elections. This is not a partisan fact-check site. This is a site intended to raise the bar for fact-checking generally, and the person running it, by happenstance, is a conservative.
  4. We can imagine ways one might say fact-checking is stupid, but we’re not sure which ones you have in mind.
  5. We are not directly concerned with low-information voters. Low-information voters don’t read fact checks, generally speaking. Low-information voters listen to what opinion-makers say about the facts. We’re about countering the ill effects bad fact-checking has on opinion-makers.
  6. Respond in kind? As above, that’s not our point.
  7. Get funds and researchers. That’s always been part of the plan, but it’s hard to accomplish with limited time and even more limited professional contacts. But we feel we’ve accomplished our goal of pointing the path toward better fact checking, so we’re shifted our focus more toward funding since October 2014. Funding is a prerequisite to adding more researchers.
  8. We don’t know what you found brutal about the Kessler/Romney aide thing. We assume you’re talking about the out-of-context quotation that Kessler, among others, twisted out of the mouth of a Romney pollster. Yes, liberals and the mainstream fact-checkers have scored points by taking that quotation out of context. We think we score a point by showing that the mainstream fact checkers have an easy time ignoring context when it dovetails with liberal orthodoxy. When people look up that quotation on the Internet, they find search results high in the mix from this site, and that offers the potential that they’ll find the truth of the matter: The fact checkers and mainstream media misled them. We think that’s important to point out and don’t consider it getting caught out on a limb. We’re not trying to spread propaganda. We’re trying to produce better reporting of the facts.
  9. Great set of suggestions. We think we win if we end up reforming fact checking for the better. And funding, along with a corporate support structure, will certainly help. And if telling the truth helps conservatives win elections we’re fine with that. Though we’ll concern ourselves with doing fact-checking well.

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