David Bozell, the son of MRC founder and president Brent Bozell, called me the other day to bring my attention to a USA Today “fact check” that blocks a meme on the Facebook page of their group For America. It’s a humorous CNN-mocking meme of only 15 words:
2016 Media: Russia stole the election
2020 Media: Our elections are literally impossible to steal.
For America’s added Facebook message was simple: “The media are a virus.” Any conservative critic of CNN gets the joke. For years, journalists aerobically implied that Donald Trump was involved in a conspiracy with the Russians to get himself elected. And now, journalists have hyped that the government's experts insisted after Joe Biden won that this was the "most secure" election in American history.
But USA Today flagged it was "false," causing Facebook to put the “False Information” warning on it.
The USA Today “fact check” was written by Devon Link, who is…an intern. Why a major national newspaper uses interns to censor conservative Facebook pages is a mystery. But Link’s article goes on and on for more than 1700 words, or more than 100 times the length of the joke.
Link offered this blustery conclusion:
We rate the claim that the media said Russia stole the 2016 election and now say the 2020 election is impossible to steal FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. Analysis of major outlets' coverage of both elections show journalists reported that Russia sought to negatively influence Americans' perception of Hillary Clinton leading up to the 2016 election and that there is no evidence to suggest there was widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. These media reports are consistent with with conclusions reached by U.S. officials in the intelligence community, Justice Department, law enforcement, the courts, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Young Devon is rebutting things that were not included in the joke. "Fact checkers" have a nasty habit of setting the "facts" exactly where they want them. Journalists didn't just report "Russia sought to negatively influence perception of Hillary Clinton." They implied Trump was treasonously involved with the Russians.
And this lawyerly reference to no evidence of "widespread fraud" -- as if journalists don't mind some selectively applied fraud -- is classic "fact checker" lingo.
Meanwhile, leftists can call Trump a "fascist," a "white supremacist," or a "criminal," and there is zero fear that anything in those attacks will be "fact checked" with extreme literalism. Let's just peek at Occupy Democrats, a popular leftist Facebook page. No one thinks the liberal media will say they can't assert Vice President Pence "stabbed" Trump in the back. Why, he didn't literally stab him!
Occupy Democrats can congratulate themselves for defeating "Trump and fascism" and no intern at USA Today is going to leap into action:
You can imply Trump's a crook and a rapist all you want! All's fair in love and memes! No 1700-word rebuttals for this!
Now if you start an opposing page called "Occupy Democrats Logic," you get ....fact-checked by USA Today -- for daring to imply Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats are COVID hypocrites. That's "MISSING CONTEXT."
What a biased racket this is.