Topic: Media Research Center
It's been a while since we checked in on how the Media Research Center's Tim Graham has tried to complain and nitpick media fact-checks of conservatives in order to portray them as biased -- a task he regularly fails at. How is that war is going for him? Let's go back to Jan. 27, where Graham was setting up a narrative:
At the top of their home page, PolitiFact begs for donations by proclaiming "Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy." But this "independent fact-checker" routinely betrays a tilt by coming out more aggressively to “correct” rhetorical or factual attacks on Democrats.
At the end of Biden’s first 100 days, we reported our study of PolitiFact found they published 13 fact checks of the president, and 106 fact checks of the president’s critics. In other words, they’re much more sensitive about someone “lying” about Biden than they are about Biden lying.
Now, after reviewing Biden’s first year, a NewsBusters study shows the same pattern continues. Overall from January 20, 2021 through January 19, 2022, MRC analysts found Biden was fact-checked 40 times, while Biden critics were checked on 230 occasions.
Many of the fact checks about Biden are about “Facebook Posts,” “Viral Images,” or “Instagram.” Those rulings often translate into content warning flags on social media. The shutdowns of Biden critics don't just happen on PolitiFact, but on Big Tech platforms.
These numbers, presented out of context from the total number of fact-checks on all politicans that PolitiFact has done or even the number of alleged false statement Biden has made ,shows that Graham refuses to consider the fact that Biden simply does not make very many false statements or that his fellow right-wing haters are quite invested in spreading lies about him. Also note that Graham puts "lying" in scare quotes when describing anti-Biden falsehoods being debunked but does not do so when using the word to describe what Biden says. Cherry-picking numbers while censoring others that might be more inconvenient to your political narrative is not "media research."
The next day, Graham was ranting that a Rrepubilcan candidate for lieutenant governor in Virginia was busted spreading a false claim, dismissing the falsehood as a mere "quibble":
On January 24, PolitiFact wrote a “fact check” throwing a “Mostly False” rating at Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears for an TV interview with Fox News on Martin Luther King Day asserting “When it comes to CRT, it is definitely being taught in some form or fashion. We know that last year, the Loudoun County school board spent about 300,000 plus dollars, that’s real money, that’s going to jail money, to bring CRT in some form or fashion to the school system.”
One factual quibble was worthy: Loudoun Country spend $300,000-plus dollars for “equity training” over several years, not in 2020. Whether that quibble matters to parents there is a different question. It should matter to Fiske that Loudoun County officials lied about only spending $34,167 on seminars.
PolitiFact attempted to argue the Equity Collaborative was brought in for a much broader effort about the discipline policy and overall treatment of minority students, and then altered its conclusion:
At no point did Graham (or the right-wing Daily Caller source he cited to back up his numbers) prove that every single penny of that money paid only for "critical race theory," nor did he prove that addressing equity issues in schools has any direct tie to CRT. Instead he tried to confuse the issue even further: "They were developing systemic-racism education in 'curricular and instructional efforts.' It's exactly as Sears asserted on Fox News, that the Left is 'playing semantics' on its efforts to impose 'equity training' on teachers and students."
Graham is engaging in what anti-CRT activist Christopher Rufo advocated: make CRT such a toxic term that any school lesson that even remotely touches on racism can be redefined as CRT and, thus, become a rallying cry for right-wing activists who don't like public education in the first place.
A Jan. 29 post featured Graham whining that a Facebook claim about having to "show papers" when eating in a restaurant when it actually meant just showing you've gotten a COVID vaccine was flagged for taking the situation out of context, along with a bizarre shot at the publication doing the fact-check:
In other words, it's accurate for some cities, but not for America in its entirety, so -- "missing context!" [USA Today writer Daniel] Funke admitted it's not WRONG, it's ....overly broad.
He seems to be "missing context" in avoiding the "show your ID" part, not just proof of vaccination. He doesn't include DC. But this is like saying it would be "misleading" to say USA Today is a "national" newspaper, where there are many places across America you can't buy a copy.
Graham then went on to huff that USA Today was engaged in "harassment" of this Facebook user by fact-checking him:
I sent this message to Funke on Twitter: "I'm a little mystified why you would jump to 'correct' a Facebook post from a guy with 427 followers. That's some 'misinformation' threat?" And: "Why not focus on Mayor Bowser and how she is "missing the context" that asking for an ID sounds like it's not 'racist' when it's about COVID."
Funke does claim this little meme was shared. "The post accumulated more than 3,500 shares within two days." But it certainly looks like a media Goliath picking on a conservative David.[...]
USA Today notes that this harassment of Facebook users is funded by a grant from Facebook. You donate to liberal newspapers, you get liberal spin disguised as "missing context" checking.
Graham brought his "context" argument to Feb. 7 post, insisting that it was Fox News being taken out of context, not then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki:
John Sexton at Hot Air reports that a Washington Post "fact checker" came rushing to Team Biden's defense in an article titled "How an out-of-context Jen Psaki clip led to days of Fox coverage."
On the Obama-bros podcast Pod Save America, White House press secretary Jen Psaki went full Stelter and shamed Fox for covering something that the liberal networks weren't covering -- rising crime in American cities.
Sexton makes a great point that Psaki herself wasn't really accurate in describing what aired on Fox.
This isn't "independent fact checking." It's acting like Psaki's Psecret Pservice.
It's Psaki and Usero who aren't reflecting the event as it occurred. Sexton points out that it's Fox News that is being taken out of context. Psaki was laughing about a chyron from The Fivew hich aired on January 24. They aired an 11-minute segment which included that chyron over Jeanine Pirro. Why cover that topic that Monday? Because two NYPD officers had been shot the previous Friday night, and both died (one after this aired). That's the "soft on crime consequences" Psaki pretended were in an "alternative universe." She was suggesting it was....Fake News. Psaki wasn't watching the show, she was commenting on the chyron. Then they're upset Fox mocked her as unserious on crime. Pirro wasn't even mentioning Biden!
The Post robots don't have to like Fox News Channel, but if you're writing for "The Fact Checker," it might be a good idea to actually watch the Fox News video in question here. Or at least admit Jen Psaki's Fox News remarks were uninformed about what was actually discussed.
Graham doesn't have to like the Washington Post -- indeed, he gets paid quite well to hate them -- but presuming that any and every fact-check of a conservative or any purported failure to fact-check a non-conservative is solely because of "liberal bias" is a sad way to live your life.
In a March 15 post, Graham again handwaved someone's actual false claims -- this time ex-Trump adviser Stephen Miller -- to complain he was being victimized for being the subject of a fact-check over his claims about Vice President Kamala Harris at a meeting of European leaders:
First, it's true that Miller cited the wrong European president, but it's obvious from the video that Harris tried to defer to the Romanian leader. You go first!
But as usual, the real issue is selection bias. Why is this small flub in a video clip worth a fact check? PolitiFact rarely checks CNN or MSNBC shows (because they're all liberals). Last week, a guest told Rachel Maddow's substitute host Ali Velshi the embarrassing falsehood that "Hitler didn't kill ethnic Germans," which was corrected by the Auschwitz Memorial people, but PolitiFact somehow couldn't locate that viral clip.
It seems obvious that PolitiFact is trying to whack Fox News as a misinformation channel and control the damage of these strange Harris performances in front of the press.
Is that the same "selection bias" Graham has when he can never seem to find any bias at Fox News?