Facebook’s independent fact-checking program leans heavily to the left. But instead of solving that problem by adding more conservative fact-checkers, the company has added a Never-Trump operation instead.
The Dispatch, founded by Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, is an outlet similar in style to The Bulwark. It features commentary from never-Trumper David French, formerly with National Review. “The Dispatch has joined our U.S. fact-checking program,” announced Facebook on June 26, 2020. Very little else was said in regards to the addition. Ten fact-checkers now fact-check content on Facebook. Eight are liberal, one is Never-Trump, and one —— The Daily Caller’s Check Your Fact —— is conservative.
Since The Dispatch was added, the site has done 34 fact-checks total. Fifteen of those fact-checks either defended Democratic politicians or fact-checked conservative accounts. Only five fact-checks defended Republican politicians or fact-checked liberal accounts.One of the fact-checks went after conservative pundit David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag, claiming its quotes were “unverifiable.”
French has made no secret of his opinion about President Donald Trump, saying on Twitter, “But of course the GOP has voted a conspiracy theorist into Oval Office … .” He also tweeted, “If ‘America is at stake’ in the election, why aren't MAGA patriots more angry at the guy who's actually tweeting and bumbling his way into a deep deficit rather than at the people who are demanding character and competence from the nation's chief executive?”
“We recognize that there is a significant amount of biased reporting, misinformation, and outright disinformation that is published,” the outlet informed the liberal organization Poynter. The Dispatch wanted to be added to the Poynter-run Independent Fact-Checking Network, which provides Facebook with eligible partners to fact-check flagged pieces and statements as “false,” “partly false,” “true,” “misleading,” and “altered.” When pieces are found to be “false” or “partly false,” they are given a filter, called an interstitial, that covers up the front of the piece with a warning label. The algorithms that distribute content from that page are then suppressed.
Poynter Institute has received funding from liberal billionaire George Soros. In 2019, the outlet released a report declaring 29 right-leaning news outlets to be “unreliable news websites.” The list had been compiled by Southern Poverty Law Center producer Barrett Golding, in an attempt to stop advertisers from buying ads with conservative sites. Eventually, the list was removed and replaced with a note from Poynter editor Barbara Allen, who said, “We feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information.”
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