Fact checkers are just as susceptible to bias and narrative-pushing as any other class of journalist. Despite this, major media organizations treat them as a source of reliably unbiased information — as do social media companies like FaceBook and Twitter, who have granted them the power to flag and remove anything they deem “misinformation.”
The MRC’s latest explainer video discusses how two of the biggest names in the fact checking industry — Politifact and Snopes — abuse their role to tilt the scales in Democrats’ favor. Watch it below:
One of the most common ways in which fact checkers skew their analysis is with selection bias; specifically, they are quick to pounce on any misstep by Republicans, while Democrats are often given a pass.
The MRC recently published a study examining this phenomenon, which can be found here. Analysts found that during the first 100 days of President Biden’s administration, Politifact was nearly eight times more likely to fact check a criticism of Biden than they were to fact check a claim by Biden himself.
Politifact has gone easy on President Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, as well. While the site had a page for Sarah Huckabee Sanders (former-President Trump’s press secretary) weeks before she’d even given her first briefing, they still haven’t created one for Ms. Psaki. In fact, as of this article’s publishing, Politifact still has yet to fact-check a single statement that she has made.
While ideally fact checkers should strive to be as objective as possible, it turns out that they are no less fallible than other journalists. As a result, readers are advised to regard them with the same skepticism that they would have toward any journalistic outlet.