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Sunday, June 25, 2017
Graham Mad That MRC's Hostility to Fact-Checking Was Called Out
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Tim Graham complains in a June 9 post:

Alexios Mantzarlis at the journalism website reported "Conservative websites are far more likely to attack fact-checkers than their liberal counterparts." That almost sounds like "Conservative websites more hostile to facts." Something called the Duke Reporters' Lab issued a study of ten "partisan" websites and determined that the conservatives were much more hostile to the fact-checkers, while the liberals were overwhelmingly supportive.

"Conservative websites more hostile to facts"? Hey, if the shoe fits, Tim. As part of its anti-media agenda, the MRC has been waging a partisan war against fact-checkers for years for committing the sin of fact-checking conservatives -- a war the MRC has ramped up to defend chronic liar Donald Trump.

Tellingly, Graham doesn't link to the Duke study he's bashing; instead, he whines that his operation was accurately identified in the study as the MRC instead of NewsBusters. Surely Graham is aware that most MRC content appears at NewsBusters these days, so his complaint is a distinction without a difference.

After noting that the Poynter writer argued that conservative attacks on fact-checkers may be "further undermining the capacity of building a public discourse on shared facts," Graham goes on to rant:

"Shared facts" is exactly the field of combat here. Liberals insincerely insist that's all they want, but what they really want is to insist they own the facts and that they are the ones who determines they are factual, and anyone who challenges their sweaty grip is uncivil.

When a study finds that conservative sites offered 86 percent of the negative comments and liberal sites offered 85 percent of the positive ones, academics can properly speculate that "fact checkers" are perceived as liberal by both sides.

Note that Graham refuses to concede that there is such a thing as "shared facts."

To him, it's not about facts -- it's all about control of the political narrative. The entire existence of the MRC, after all,  is dedicated to de-legitimizing any media outlet that doesn't uncritically promote the conservative agenda.

If, as Graham claims, the partisan split on the perception of fact-checkers means that they should be considered liberal, it also means we can properly speculate that conservatives are running a coordinated, targeted campaign to smear and denounce fact-checkers.

Indeed, Graham cheerfully highlights how one right-wing critic likened one fact-checking site to a "Bangkok hooker" -- then huffs that identifying liars as liars "risks undermining public discourse."

And Graham's MRC has such an aversion to "shared facts" that one of his writers keeps insisting that Steve Scalise didn't give a speech that he apologized for giving.

So, yes, Tim, "shared facts" should be a thing. You and your organization should check them out sometime -- and not just when it's to your political advangate to do so.

You're just mad that your fact-averse agenda was exposed as the partisanship it is, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with concern about journalism.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:43 AM EDT

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