Google’s and Facebook’s FAKE FAKE News Checkers. Shills For Hire!
Phony baloney: The 9 fakest fake-news checkers
Sex blogger, gamer, Trump-haters among self-appointed experts in determining truth
Since President Donald Trump won the presidential election in November, there’s been an explosion of “fake-news” checker sites, some cloaked behind a veil of anonymity.
In some cases, Americans really have fallen for “fake news.” Just days ago, 20th Century Fox apologized for creating “fake news” sites – such as as the Houston Leader, the Salt Lake City Guardian, Sacramento Dispatch, the New York Morning Post and Indianapolis Gazette – as part of a promotional campaign for its psychological thriller, “A Cure for Wellness.”
But on the heels of media hysteria over the trend, now it seems everyone claims to be a foremost expert on the topic of spotting “fake news.”
“Trust us,” they say.
“We’ll help you navigate Facebook and filter out the fake news stories,” they promise.
But just who are these self-appointed gatekeepers who claim to be the ultimate arbiters of what is or is not “fake news”?
WND found “fact-checker” sites run by:
A leftist, Trump-hating, feminist professor who specializes in “fat studies.”
A sex-and-fetish blogger.
A health-industry worker.
Organizations with billionaire Democratic Party activists and donors.
- And another guy who went to extreme lengths to conceal his identity.
But most of the self-appointed “fact-checker” sites had one thing in common: President Trump – and the news sites that dare to give him a fair shake – are overwhelmingly their favorite targets.
The websites often show an obvious bias against conservative-leaning outlets. And many fail to include clear explanations of the criteria they use for determining whether a news site is legitimate. Other “experts” offer little or no biographical information establishing their qualifications for making judgments about journalism quality.
WND has compiled the following list of the Top 9 “fakest ‘fake-news’ checkers.”
The website Pigscast, which stands for Politics, Internet Gaming and Sports, was founded by “gamer” Will Healy.
In a Reddit forum discussing the chart, Healy explains in late January: “I tried to base as much of it off this site that someone posted in the thread yesterday mediabiasfactcheck.com.”
On Jan. 25, Healy tweeted his chart of news organizations and the message, “Stop #FakeNews, check out this news guide @ThePigscast #Pigscast #alternative facts.”
Will Healy, founder of Pigscast
He ranked the news organizations as “Garbage Left (not worth it),” “Hyper-Partisan Left (To Confirm Your Beliefs),” “Leans Left (Not Horrible),” “Neutral (What Journalism Should Be),” “Leans Right (Not Horrible),” “Hyper-Partisan Right (To Confirm Your Beliefs)” and “Garbage Right (Not Worth It).”
Healy labeled WND, the Drudge Report, the Blaze, Accuracy in Media, the Family Research Council, Breitbart and other organizations as “Garbage Right (Not Worth It).”
However, Healy considers the following to be “Neutral (What Journalism Should Be)”: Reuters, USA Today, the Texas Tribune, Financial Times, Associated Press, C-SPAN and the Economist. Even NPR is located partially in the “neutral” category on his chart.
One Twitter user named Nigel Fenwick asked Healy: “Hi Will – is this your own graphic? What’s the basis of this analysis? What data was used? Is it objective or subjective?”
Healy simply replied: “[M]ost of this was from mediabiasfactcheck.com but note this is just the first draft. I plan on a final version later.”
WND’s request for comment from Healy concerning his news ranking methodology and expertise in evaluating news organizations hadn’t been returned at the time of this report.
He appears to have some anti-Trump views. On Election Day, Healy tweeted: “Anyone who voted third party should hold their head high. They didn’t vote for a horrible candidate. That they voted their conscience.”
In May 2016, he tweeeted his support for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who was the Libertarian Party nominee in the race for the White House: “I side 82% with @GovGaryJohnson. Just reaffirms my choice this November.”
And on Jan. 22, he tweeted: “Aren’t #alternativefacts just bulls–t? #Trump administration already off to a poor start.”
Healy also praised the Womens March on Washington, D.C., tweeting Jan. 21: “The fact that around this country we can have massive peaceful protests after a peaceful transition of power is awesome #WomansMarch.”
Media Bias Fact Check
MediaBIasFactCheck.com describes itself as “the most comprehensive media bias resource in the Internet.” The site is owned by Dave Van Zandt from North Carolina, who offers no biographical information about himself aside from the following: “Dave has been freelancing for 25+ years for a variety of print and web mediums (sic), with a focus on media bias and the role of media in politics. Dave is a registered Non-Affiliated voter who values evidence based reporting” and, “Dave Van Zandt obtained a Communications Degree before pursuing a higher degree in the sciences. Dave currently works full time in the health care industry. Dave has spent more than 20 years as an arm chair researcher on media bias and its role in political influence.”
WND was unable to locate a single article with Van Zandt’s byline. Ironically, the “fact checker” fails to establish his own credibility by disclosing his qualifications and training in evaluating news sources.
Asked for information concerning his expertise in the field of journalism and evaluating news sources, Van Zandt told WND: “I am not a journalist and just a person who is interested in how media bias impacts politics. You will find zero claims of expertise on the website.”
Concerning his purported “25+ years” of experience writing for print and web media, he said: “I am not sure why the 25+ years is still on the website. That was removed a year ago when I first started the website. All of the writing I did was small print news zines from the ’90s. I felt that what I wrote in the ’90s is not related to what I am doing today so I removed it. Again, I am not a journalist. I simply have a background in communications and more importantly science where I learned to value evidence over all else. Through this I also became interested in research of all kinds, especially media bias, which is difficult to measure and is subjective to a degree.”
WND asked: Were your evaluations reviewed by any experts in the industry?
“I can’t say they have,” Van Zandt replied. “Though the right-of-center Atlantic Council is using our data for a project they are working on.”
an Zandt says he uses “three volunteers” to “research and assist in fact checking.” However, he adds that he doesn’t pay them for their services.
Van Zandt lists WND on his “Right Bias” page, alongside news organizations such as Fox News, the Drudge Report, the Washington Free Beacon, the Daily Wire, the Blaze, Breitbart, Red State, Project Veritas, PJ Media, National Review, Daily Caller and others.
“These media sources are highly biased toward conservative causes,” Van Zandt writes. “They utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Sources in this category may be untrustworthy.”
His special notes concerning WND link to Snopes.com and PolitiFact.com, websites that have their own questionable reputations and formulas as so-called “fact checkers.” (See the “Snopes” and “PolitiFact” entries below.)
Van Zandt says he uses a “strict methodology” in determining which news sources are credible, but his website offers vague and typo-ridden explanations of his criteria, such as the following:
Asked if his own political leanings influence his evaluations, Van Zandt said: “Sure it is possible. However, our methodology is designed to eliminate most of that. We also have a team of 4 researchers with different political leanings so that we can further reduce researcher bias.”
Bill Palmer of the website Daily News Bin accused Van Zandt of retaliating when the Daily News Bin contacted him about his rating. Palmer wrote:
“[I]t turns out Van Zandt has a vindictive streak. After one hapless social media user tried to use his phony ‘Media Bias Fact Check’ site to dispute a thoroughly sourced article from this site, Daily News Bin, we made the mistake of contacting Van Zandt and asking him to take down his ridiculous ‘rating’ – which consisted of nothing more than hearsay such as ‘has been accused of being satire.’ Really? When? By whom? None of those facts seem to matter to the guy running this ‘Media Bias Fact Check’ scam.
“But instead of acknowledging that he’d been caught in the act, Van Zandt retaliated against Daily News Bin by changing his rating to something more sinister. He also added a link to a similar phony security company called World of Trust, which generates its ratings by allowing random anonymous individuals to post whatever bizarre conspiracy theories they want, and then letting these loons vote on whether that news site is ‘real’ or not. These scam sites are now trying to use each other for cover, in order to back up the false and unsubstantiated ‘ratings’ they semi-randomly assign respected news outlets. …
“‘Media Bias Fact Check’ is truly just one guy making misleading claims about news outlets while failing to back them up with anything, while maliciously changing the ratings to punish any news outlets that try to expose the invalidity of what he’s doing.”
But Van Zandt accused Palmer of threatening him, and he said MediaBiasFactCheck welcomes criticism. If evidence is provided, he said, the site will correct its errors.
“Bottom line is, we are not trying to be something we are not,” he said. “We have disclaimers on every page of the website indicating that our method is not scientifically proven and that there is [sic] subjective judgments being used as it is unavoidable with determining bias.”
Fake News Checker
FakeNewsChecker.com is another self-appointed “fact checker” run by anonymous individuals. The website offers no contact information.
As WND reported, the site is publishing “fake news,” specifically “fake news” about WND. It claims that WND’s founder and CEO, Joseph Farah, “received donations from the Donald Trump superPAC “Great America “PAC” (sic) calling into further question the motives behind the ‘fake’ and conspiratorial nature of the content.”
But there’s one major problem with the site’s purported “fact.”
WND didn’t get any donations from any superPACs, “not this one or any other,” company officials confirmed.
FakeNewsChecker.com effectively categorizes as “fake” virtually all news resources except those in the “mainstream media,” which surveys reveal are enjoying less and less consumer trust these days.
The website states:
Fake news has become a catchall term for news sources that lack journalistic integrity. These sites use sensational headlines, make false claims, exaggerate the editorial spin to reflect a bias, are misleading, are conspiratorial, are anti-science, promote propaganda, are written in satire or just plain hoaxes. Many of the sites are untrustworthy because they begin with a premise that is close to a truth and build a false story around it. Please check your sources and your emotions as you read the articles on these sites.
Trump-bashing prof’s ‘hit list’ of ‘fake’ news sites
The mainstream media went wild circulating a viral list of so-called “fake news” websites in November 2016 – and the list included established news sites like WND, Breitbart, Red State, the Daily Wire and Project Veritas – but WND found a leftist, Trump-bashing assistant professor in Massachusetts who specialized in “fat studies” was behind the effort to target and discredit legitimate news organizations.
Meet Merrimack College Assistant Professor Melissa Zimdars, a 30-something self-identified feminist and activist who has expressed great dislike for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Merrimack College assistant professor Melissa Zimdars, author of the “fake news” list circulated online (Photo: Twitter)
She had only actually held her teaching position at the private college in North Andover, Massachusetts, for 15 months when she published her “fake news” list.
Zimdars published and circulated a list of “fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media.” She said she began writing the list because she didn’t approve of the sources her students were citing.
In addition to some satirical and bogus sites, her list attacks the credibility of well-established news organizations such as Breitbart, BizPac Review, Red State, the Blaze, the Independent Journal Review, Twitchy, the Daily Wire, WND and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. In many cases (such as with her WND listing), she offers no explanation for why the news organizations were included on the list.
Melissa “Mish” Zimdars is an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts
Mainstream media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times circulated Zimdars’ growing list. The Times headlined its story, “Want to keep fake news out of your newsfeed? College professor creates list of sites to avoid.” The Times offered no details concerning Zimdars’ qualifications or background. News organizations such as CNN, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, New York Magazine, USA Today, Business Insider, the Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News and others spread the list like gospel and cited it in their reports.
But nearly none of them considered Zimdars’ political leanings or questioned her criteria or qualifications for determining which news sources should be included on her list.
Zimdars teaches courses in radio, production, mass communication, feminist media studies, television criticism and new media and digital communication. She received her doctorate in communication and media studies just in 2015.
In response to the list, PJ Media’s Stephen Kruiser wrote, “It’s no surprise that a college professor compiled this list; what’s galling is that the Los Angeles Times ‘reported’ on it without mentioning that it’s complete garbage.”
Sean Hannity’s website warned that Zimdars’ list includes “mainstream conservative sources” and “is giving us insight into just what kind of websites the left plans on targeting for censorship.”
In addition to her new job as an assistant professor, Zimdars is also a columnist and contributor for Little Village Magazine – a left-leaning magazine that says it’s focused on issues such as “racial justice,” “gender equity,” “critical culture,” “economic and labor justice” and “environmental sustainability.” Her Twitter profile describes her as a “feminist” and “activist.”
Zimdars’ social-media accounts are protected from public view, leading tweeter Vanessa Beeley to note that Zimdars “can’t take the heat. Named ‘fake media’ & then protected all her own media sites.”
International Fact-Checking Network
In December, Facebook announced it would use the International Fact-Checking Network, or IFCN, to check on the legitimacy of news articles posted to the social media site.
Alexios Mantzarlis runs the International Fact-Checking Network (Photo: Twitter)
IFCN is hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and funded, in part, by Google and foundations of leftist billionaires George Soros and Bill Gates. Soros donated $25 million to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Daily Mail reported that Clinton super-donor and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is also backing the project.
In response to Facebook’s announcement, FrontPage said conservatives should consider ditching Facebook.
“In essence, Facebook is giving the partisan left free space on conservative news links. It’s also allowing them to undermine a conservative link while promoting their own agenda,” FrontPage said.
“It’s not quite censorship, but the partnership with left-wing partisan ‘checkers’ helps move it to the next step of barring sites outright. For the moment, Facebook has decided that you shouldn’t just be able to share links to what you’re interested in without the left getting a say.
“This is yet another reason for conservatives to rethink being on Facebook.”
The website reveals: “Poynter’s IFCN has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations and the Park Foundation.”
Alexios Mantzarlis runs IFCN, which does not appear to have published any “fact-checking” articles since 2015.
However, a Feb. 16 Poynter “news” headline blasted “President Trump’s anti-media meltdown.”
From the very beginning, the story trashed the president for unveiling “an alternate universe … in which virtually every problem of his is a creation of the press.”
“In a rambling, angry and contradictory media meltdown, Trump bashed ‘the failing New York Times,’ The Wall Street Journal, CNN and the BBC, among others, following a fleeting announcement of a new nominee for Labor Secretary,” wrote Poynter’s James Warren. “It constituted what at minimum is a quadrupling down – or might it be quintupling down? – on a transparent strategy to portray the press as an opposition party.”
In the same post, Warren continued: “Never has Trump’s personal obsession with coverage of himself been so vivid. It was only sidetracked, it seemed, by an odd array of declarations and claims. Those included his taking selective and self-serving use of polling to new depths, while also proffering a new species of political self-congratulation during his strikingly defensive performance: prospectively heralding the ‘massive’ crowd to attend a Saturday rally in Melbourne, Florida.”
Washington Post Fact Checker
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has come under fire repeatedly, as critics charge it has a left-leaning bias.
Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler
As WND reported, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, who is also a Democratic Party donor and controls a personal investment firm that owns the Washington Post, had an army of 20 newspaper staffers to scour Donald Trump’s life for any dirt they could find on the presumptive GOP nominee. Bezos, a Seattle billionaire and the world’s 19th wealthiest man, purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker uses Pinocchio ratings to rate the truthfulness of statements. Zero Pinocchios means a statement is true. Two makes the statement half true. Three means mostly false, and four indicates it is false.
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Red State reported that Washington Post “Fact Check” columnist Glenn Kessler fell for fake campaign ads claiming Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, campaigned to be mayor of New York City in the 1970s.
Washington Post “Fact Checker” Michelle Ye Hee Lee
In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz published a list of “5 Times the Washington Post failed at fact-checking.”
And in August 2016, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker came under fire from the New York Post after it “fact checked” Trump’s statements concerning Hillary Clinton lacking stamina to be president. The Fact Checker gave Trump its worst rating.
“Trump has claimed twice, without proof, that Clinton lacks the physical and mental stamina to be president,” it said. “In the absence of any evidence, he earns Four Pinocchios.”
But New York Post writer Eddie Scarry observed: “Curious that the Post, in earnest, would fact-check Trump’s opinion on his opponent’s energy level. The paper didn’t bother to investigate the veracity of Clinton’s claim in late May that Trump ‘lacks the temperament to lead our nation and the free world.’”
Snopes.com, a website that’s been around since 1995, is sometimes cited by other “fact-checking” sites to support their claims. Facebook has indicated it plans to use Snopes as one of its arbiters of “fake news.” But WND revealed the site has been criticized by conservatives for a left-leaning bias and admits it has no standard procedure for fact-checking.
Kim LaCapria, principal fact checker at Snopes, has blogged as “Vice Vixen” and offered sex toy tips
One of Snopes’ leading fact-checkers is a former sex-and-fetish blogger who described her routine as smoking pot and posting to Snopes.com, and the company now is embroiled in a legal dispute between its former married founders that includes accusations the CEO used company money for prostitutes.
“This is Facebook’s high journalistic standard,” commented Pamela Geller, an author and blogger who focuses on the politically incorrect subject of Islam and terrorism.
“What a joke,” she wrote on her blog. “Facebook’s fact checkers will be used to censor and ban conservative perspectives, not to distinguish truth from falsehood. Everyone knows that.”
The Daily Mail of London reported one of Snopes.com’s main fact checkers, Kim LaCapria, is disclosed to be a former sex-blogger who called herself “Vice Vixen.”
Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson told WND in December that she thinks the uproar over “fake news” is a “narrative-driven propaganda campaign.”
“I think there’s an agenda to censor the news as opposed to actually trying to eliminate fake news,” she said.
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A DailyMail.com investigation found that Snopes.com’s founders, former husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson, are embroiled in a lengthy and bitter legal dispute in the wake of their divorce.
He has since remarried to a former escort and porn actress who is one of the site’s staff members.
Snopes Founder David Mikkelson with his new wife, Snopes staff member Elyssa Young
Barbara Mikkelson accuses her ex-husband of embezzlement while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas.
One of Snopes.com’s lead fact-checkers is Kim LaCapria, the Daily Mail reported, who has also been a sex-and-fetish blogger who went by the pseudonym “Vice Vixen.” Her blog had “a specific focus on naughtiness, sin, carnal pursuits, and general hedonism and bonne vivante-ery.”
Snopes Founder Barbara Mikkelson (Photo: Facebook)
Her day-off activities she said on another blog were: “played scrabble, smoked pot, and posted to Snopes.’”
“That’s what I did on my day “on,” too,” she added.
David Mikkelson told the the Daily Mail that Snopes does not have a “standardized procedure” for fact-checking “since the nature of this material can vary widely.”
He said the process of fact-checking “‘involves multiple stages of editorial oversight, so no output is the result of a single person’s discretion.”
Snopes has no formal requirements for fact-checkers, he told the London paper, because the variety of the work “would be difficult to encompass in any single blanket set of standards.”
Mikkelson has denied that Snopes takes any political position, but the Daily Mail noted his new wife ran for U.S. congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004.
During the campaign she handed out “Re-Defeat Bush” cards and condoms stamped with the slogan “Don’t get screwed again.”
“Let’s face it, I am an unlikely candidate. I fully admit that I am a courtesan,” she wrote on her campaign website.
In December, PolitiFact.com was identified by Facebook as one of the sites the social media platform would use to label “fake news” stories. But Breitbart reported, “Facebook’s decision to tout PolitiFact as a credible and independent fact checker is awfully disturbing, given the organization’s repeated smear campaign against Donald Trump throughout the 2016 election.”
“OH HELL NO,” was the response from the Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway to Facebook’s announcement that it would use PolitiFact.com to check news stories.
“Facebook is bringing in Poynter/PolitiFact to police ‘fake news’? They’re INCREDIBLY biased,” he said.
In December 2015, PolitiFact claimed 76 percent of all Donald Trump’s statements were “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire.”
PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan
Breitbart noted that PolitiFact pushed “fact checks” to discredit Republicans while promoting stories that favored Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton.
In fact, one of PolitiFact’s largest contributors is Clinton donor Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. Ibarguen contributed $200,000 to the 8th annual Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in February 2015, Breitbart reported. The Knight Foundation also donated between $10,000 and $25,000 to the Clinton Foundation, Politico reported.
PolitiFact’s editor is Angie Drobnic Holan, who helped launch the site in 2007.
Breitbart’s Jerome Hudson published an analysis that included the following list of reasons PolitiFact is “unqualified to be an objective judge of what’s real and ‘fake’ news”:
1. Last March, PolitiFact delivered a “mostly false” rating for a joke made by Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
2. Last April, PolitiFact made phone calls and sent a reporter to investigate whether Governor Scott Walker actually “paid one dollar for” a sweater he bought at Kohl’s. PolitiFact later ruled Walker’s claim “true.”
3. When Trump said Clinton wants “open borders,” PolitiFact deemed his statement “mostly false” — despite the fact that Clinton admitted as much in a private, paid speech to a Brazilian bank on May 16, 2013. “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,” she said at the time.
4. PolitiFact cast doubts on comments Pat Smith made during her emotional speech at the Republican National Convention, where she said Hillary Clinton said “a video was responsible” for her son’s death during the terror attacks in Benghazi.
Smith was referring to when she “saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony,” and then-Secretary of State Clinton “looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible.”
But PolitiFact, taking an oddly defensive stance, said Smith’s memory could’ve been “fuzzy” and referred its readers, instead, to a “brief meeting behind closed doors” where Clinton addressed the families of the victims of the attack.
5. Despite video evidence to the contrary, PolitiFact claimed Hillary Clinton didn’t laugh about Kathy Shelton’s rape as a child. Trump invited Shelton to the second presidential debate and called out Clinton’s embarrassing behavior.
Again, moving to dismiss and downplay Clinton’s actions, PolitiFact wrote: “Trump is referring to an audio tape in which she does respond with amusement at her recollections of the oddities of the case, which involve the prosecution and the judge. At no point does she laugh at the victim.”
6. In an attempt to explain Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of 25 percent of the United States’ uranium stockpile, Politifact ignored numerous key facts, downplayed other key facts, and ultimately made 13 errors in its analysis.
7. A few months later, PolitiFact was, again, attempting to whitewash Clinton’s role in the Russian uranium deal. Like PolitiFact’s first foray into the subject, the second report commits many factual errors and is full of glaring inaccuracies and omissions.
8. During a televised campaign event, Clinton said Australia’s compulsory gun buyback program “would be worth considering” in the U.S.
When the National Rifle Association included Clinton’s comments on one of its flyers, PolitiFact ruled the organization’s claim “mostly false.”
9. While PolitiFact admitted that Trump’s claim that Russia’s arsenal of nuclear warheads has expanded and the U.S.’ has not, the left-wing outfit deemed Trump’s statement “half true.”
In a June 2016 piece published at Investor’s Business Daily, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell wrote:
“This is a pattern with PolitiFact. Overall, they’ve rated Trump “False”/”Mostly False”/”Pants on Fire” 77% of the time. But they’ve rated Clinton “False” and “Mostly False” only 26% of the time.
“The PolitiFact political agenda jumps off the page. On the Republican side, Sen. Ted Cruz lands on the “False” side 65% of the time, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 57% of the time and former Sen. Rick Santorum 55% of the time. For Democrats, President Obama is ruled false 25% of the time, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is false only 30% of the time. This is the guy who routinely says, ‘the business model of Wall Street is fraud.’”
Also, in 2013, WND reported PolitiFact misled the public on Obamacare.
A 2013 study from the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs found that PolitiFact determines Republicans are dishonest nearly three times as often as it reaches the same conclusion for Democrats.
“PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term,” the center said, “despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.”
FactCheck.org was launched by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by the late philanthropists Walter and Lenore Annenberg, friends of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. FactCheck’s current editor is Angie Drobnic Holan.
The website is perhaps the least overtly partisan “fact checker” in this list. However, the organization came under fire after it published a July 21, 2015, piece called “Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video,” an entry that defended the abortion provider during the baby-parts scandal. Several leftist groups linked to the article, tweeted it and shared it on Facebook.
FactCheck.org Director Emeritus Brooks Jackson
Breitbart’s John Sexton noted that FactCheck.org only addressed one video in a series of at least seven videos exposing the baby-parts trade. The site wrote about an interview with Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood, who commented on crushing babies. Nucatola also suggested Planned Parenthood is satisfied with turning a profit in the body-parts trade, so long as doing so doesn’t make the nonprofit look bad.
Sexton writes: Here is how FactCheck frames Nucatola’s admission: ‘Nucatola does make one statement in the unedited video that suggests to critics that some clinics would be comfortable with a payment that was slightly more than their expenses for providing the tissue.’ Is this really only suggestive to critics? Why isn’t it just a fact that she admitted it despite her obvious concern about getting caught? And is it possible Planned Parenthood has supporters as well? Might the supporters be eager to downplay this admission? FactCheck doesn’t have anything to say about that. It’s another instance of the real story being sidestepped by introducing a partisan narrative, i.e. ‘Republicans pounced.’”
In yet another article concerning FactCheck.org, Breitbart reported the site was forced to “make an embarrassing correction” after it appeared to have made up a quote that never appeared in Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash.” The site falsely claimed Schweizer wrote in his book that Hillary Clinton had “veto power” and “could have stopped” the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium to the Russian government.
In 2016, FactCheck.org claimed TV host Bill Nye is “more of a scientist than [Sarah] Palin,” and the site listed his “six honorary doctorate degrees, including Ph.D.s in science from Goucher College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute” as evidence for its assertion.
In 2015, FactCheck.org dubbed Donald Trump the “King of Whoppers.”
“In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match,” the site wrote. “He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.”
In a post titled, “Trump’s bogus voter fraud claims,” FactCheck.org stated, “Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a ‘rigged’ election.”
While Trump said the U.S. has a problem with ballots that are cast by illegal immigrants and on behalf of dead people – a 2014 study in the Electoral Studies Journal shows illegals may have cast as many as 2.8 million votes in 2008 and 2010 and investigations have found that ballots have been cast for dead people in multiple elections – FactCheck.org found, “his evidence is lacking,” and “researchers say voter fraud involving ballots cast on behalf of deceased voters is rare.”
Any examination of a “fact-checking” website would not be complete without a look at the organization’s primary source of funding. FactCheck.org receives the largest amount of its funding from the Annenberg Foundation, which funds a number of nonprofits. The foundation funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge to the tune of $49.2 million. In 1995, Barack Obama was a founding member of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. He remained on the board until 2001, when the challenge was phased out.
According to CNN, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge was the brainchild of Weather Underground terrorist group co-founder Bill Ayers. “A review of board minutes and records by CNN show Obama crossed paths repeatedly with Ayers at board meetings of the Annenberg Challenge Project,” CNN reported. The Wall Street Journal reported, “The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.”