Notable & Quotable: Another Classic ‘Fact Check’
‘USA Today confirmed that all of the details of the Instagram post, including the quote, were absolutely correct. Why, then, did it flag it as misleading?’
Feb. 3, 2021
From “Lincoln High School and the Latest Fact-Checking Pitfalls” by Kalev Leetrau, RealClearPolitics.com, Feb. 2:
On Dec. 16, Not the Bee, which describes itself as a “humor-based news, opinion, and entertainment site,” shared on its Instagram account a photograph of Abraham Lincoln titled “San Francisco to rename ABRAHAM LINCOLN High School because—I swear this is real—‘he did not show that black lives ever mattered to him.’ ” Four days later, Facebook fact-checking partner USA Today (which receives funding from Facebook) published a fact check of the post, issuing a verdict that it was “Missing Context.” This means that anyone viewing the Instagram post since then has seen a large red warning label saying, “Missing Context. Independent fact-checkers say information in this post could mislead people.”
In its fact check, USA Today confirmed that all of the details of the Instagram post, including the quote, were absolutely correct. Why, then, did it flag it as misleading? In the paper’s words, “It is true that a renaming committee included Abraham Lincoln High School on a list of 44 schools whose namesakes met its renaming criteria. But the committee has not finalized its recommendations, and the school board has not voted on the name changes—so at this time, it’s not accurate to say that the school will be renamed.”
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Appeared in the February 4, 2021, print edition as ‘Notable & Quotable: ‘Facts’.’
And the primary lead editorial today in WSJ also addressed the new “Truth Control” that is rearing it’s ugly head. This is important and will require resistance, being canceled, and perhaps even more as the future unfold:
Liberalism’s Ministry of Truth
Academics and the progressive press mull state media controls.
By The Editorial BoardFeb. 3, 2021
The academic establishment and progressive press want you to know two things: First, conservative claims of social-media bias are bogus. As Silicon Valley firms police content, their decisions are, miraculously, wholly uninfluenced by ideological preference.
Second, there is an urgent need for a much wider crackdown on political speech, perhaps led by the Biden Administration and requiring the creation of new government agencies. In other words, all that conservative suppression that’s, er, not happening? We need more of it.
New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a brief this week that is being amplified in the press entitled, “False Accusation: The Unfounded Claim that Social Media Companies Censor Conservatives.” It argues that “some conservatives believe their content is suppressed on partisan grounds when, in fact, it’s being singled out because it violates neutral platform rules.”
That is sometimes true, but the report doesn’t remotely prove that it always is. What about when Twitter and Facebook tried to suppress a New York Post story about Hunter Biden before the 2020 election? Even the report concedes that “the question of whether social media companies harbor an anti-conservative bias can’t be answered conclusively.”
That doesn’t stop the authors from unabashedly asserting that “the claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation.” It is perpetuated partly because “it appeals to the same conspiratorial mindset that has fostered the QAnon movement.”
Got it? Anyone who argues social-media moderation has a progressive slant is spreading disinformation, and possibly drawn to a bizarre cult. And remember that disinformation is against the rules—which, once again, are neutral.
Among the solutions to the non-problem of progressive bias is, naturally, government control. The NYU report recommends that “the federal government . . . press Facebook, Google, and Twitter to improve content policies” and “cooperate with these companies” on enforcement. This political suppression—er, neutral government-backed content policy—“could be enforced by a new Digital Regulatory Agency.”
Since we’re devising new entities for speech control, the New York Times offers another idea. Experts recommend “that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar,’” the beacon of progressive tolerance avers.
When disinformation (or at least disinformation that is not useful to the Biden Administration) spreads, then according to the Times, “a centralized task force could coordinate a single, strategic response” and enlist the tech platforms. That “could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.”
Government as the “tip of the spear” against political speech? Imagine if Donald Trump had floated that one.
Intellectuals don’t merely want the Biden Administration to promote progressive policies. Flush with power, they’re now suggesting that government should police the flow of ideas and assume the authority to define reality itself. So bring on the truth commissions. And if any political minority group complains that the Ministry of Truth is biased, worry not—the reality czar can make quick work of such disinformation.