Topic: Media Research Center
One of Media Research Center bigwig Tim Graham's current obsessions is to rail against fact-checkers who keep proving that President Trump is a lying liar who lies. For instance, he whines in a Jan. 28 post:
We've made it a routine point that the media's "independent fact-checkers" spend most of their time fact-checking President Trump, and the rest of the politicians (especially Democrats) get far less attention. This was confirmed in a recent article in the British leftist paper The Guardian. The headline on Adam Gabbatt's piece was "The 'exhausting' work of factcheckers who track Trump's barrage of lies."
So if these websites want to be perceived as "nonpartisan," won't that be difficult if the overwhelming target of your checking is a Republican president? Kessler said “It was more difficult to fact-check Obama because there was always a modicum of truth there. You ended up going way down in the weeds with officials who were highly knowledgable and wanted to defend their case. With Trump a lot of times the White House won’t defend what he’s saying because they have no defense.”
Someone should ask Kessler: How much time do you think the president has, when you're tagging him with 15 "false claims" a day?
Graham's attitude requires him to be oblivious to two things: 1) If Trump wants to be fact-checked less, he should lie less, and 2) No evidence has been presented that any single Democratic politician -- or even a large group of them -- lie as much as Trump does.
Further, Trump is a target-rich environment -- he lies often and blatantly. Graham can't seem to even admit that Trump has lied (though he doesn't actively dispute it).
Graham followed up with more whining on Feb. 8, this time trying to paint fact-checker PolitiFact as biased because it fact-checks Trump a lot. First, he insists PolitiFact is lying about not basing fact-checks on ideology because "PolitiFact has been sustained by large grants from liberal foundations including the Ford Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the leftist Craig Newmark Foundation." Graham seems to think -- without evidence, of course -- that liberal donors to nonpartisan organizations demand the same ideological loyalty that donors to the MRC do.
Then, Graham threw some numbers around (boldface in original):
Let's take a quick check of 2017 and 2018 to see what happens when you actually care about who is fact-checked more and less.
-- President Trump was fact-checked on their "Truth-o-Meter" 297 times in the last two calendar years, and 205 of those statements were ranked Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. That's 69 percent of the time.
-- Nancy Pelosi, then the House Minority Leader, House leader Nancy Pelosi was checked 12 times. Six of them were on the False side (50 percent), zero Pants on Fire. Five were True or Mostly True, and one was Half True.
-- Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, was checked 9 times. Four of those were on the False side (44 percent), three on the True side, and two Half Trues.
-- President Trump was rated a "Pants On Fire" liar 33 times, more than these two Democrat [sic] leaders were rated at all (21 times).
-- In the partisan breakdown of "Pants on Fire" ratings in 2017-18, Republicans/conservatives were tagged 98 times overall and Democrats/liberals merely 15 times. That's a margin of more than six to one.
In the "Blue Wave" year of 2018, Barack and Michelle Obama were rated....Zero times. Hillary Clinton was rated.....Zero times. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rated....Zero times. Bill Clinton drew one...for claiming they were poor when they left the White House.
It's not just Trump. Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren were both elected to the Senate in 2012. Cruz was assessed for truth on 135 occasions by PolitiFact through 2018, but Warren? Only five.
And for the record, PolitiFact has never evaluated Warren on the “Truth-o-Meter” when she claimed to be part-Cherokee Indian.
Graham never explains why, for instance, the Obamas or the Clintons should hjave been fact-checked in 2018, given that none of them had any central role in that year's elections. Nor does he explain how, exactly, PolitiFact could have examined Warren's claim about her heritage without, say, obtaining her DNA.
Graham concludes with one lasat whine: "Like the rest of the Liberal Media, PolitiFact treats conservatives as much more likely to lie and mislead." But he offers no evidence to the contrary; he cites not one single example of a claim by a Democrat that PolitiFact should have fact-checked but didn't.
If Graham really wants to do other than try to make cheap political points and actually prove his thesis correct, he should put his money -- or, more to the point, the Mercers' money -- where his mouth is: a MRC fact-checking operation that goes after the things PolitiFact purportedly won't. On the other hand, running one's mouth is much easier...