There is a protest, a riot or a corruption scandal. The public needs to know the facts about what is happening on the ground. You can’t just believe what any random person tells you. So, who do you trust to tell you the truth?
The “fact-checkers” of course. They will examine what people are saying all around. They will weigh the evidence and ascertain the facts on the ground. And then they will tell us what really happened. That’s why they are called fact-checkers, right?
Wait a minute. Didn’t we already have an entire class of people who claimed they were doing exactly this already? I don’t remember any prominent “fact-checkers” say ten years ago. What did we do back then? Did we just put our faith in random people?
Ah, I remember. We used to have people called “journalists.” They would reach out to people on the ground, weigh the evidence, ascertain the facts and tell us what really happened.
So what happened to these journalists? There are plenty of people still around who call themselves journalists.
I will tell you what happened. The journalists lost all credibility, that’s what. Why did they lose all credibility? Because bit by bit, we realized that journalists were just feeding us an agenda, not reporting facts.
What does a con artist do when their fraud is exposed? They can’t function any longer under their old name. Because everyone knows they are a fraud. The con artist simply comes back under a new name, wearing a fake moustache. That’s exactly what “fact-checking” is. A new name for the same old fraud of agenda driven journalism.
Ten years ago, a “reputed” newspaper or news channel would go out there and pretend to report facts. And most people would have believed it. But, over the years, they lost credibility. In story after story, situation after situation, their bias and agenda got exposed. Once upon a time, people would be surprised if you showed them examples of media bias. People used to look up to journalists. Those who grew up in the 90s will remember movies and serials where journalists were cast as heroes. Today, nobody would do that. The public has become wiser. They have no respect for journalists any more.
The con artists have had to rebrand themselves. The new way to suppress your opinion is to claim they are “fact checking” you.
Consider this. There is a riot. The journalists say that community X burned 10 houses of community Y. Ten years ago, those reports would have been the last word. But today, everyone has a phone with a sophisticated recorder and camera, and a social media account to broadcast their views across the planet. Today, someone will hit back by showing that community Y burned 50 houses of community X in another part of town.
And so it will keep going back and forth. Everyone has a bias. Journalists know they can’t win this.
So they create this new myth of a “fact-checker.” An unbiased angel who descends from above and brings you the facts. The angels find one guy who disagrees with you. Instead of calling it an opinion, they scream that you have been “fact-checked” and proven to be false. That’s the headline: FACT-CHECK! As long as you claim to be “fact-checking,” you have a magical aura of neutrality and moral superiority.
And now that fact-checkers have certified one particular version of the story, it becomes fact. Big Tech can now seize upon this certificate and censor you. It happened exactly the way it would happen ten years ago. Back then, they censored your version because journalists disagreed with it. Now they censor your version because fact-checkers disagree with it.
“Fact-checking” sounds like a new business. Not enough people have figured out their tricks yet. And it certainly sounds like a noble thing to do. Just like journalism, back in the day.
I challenge you: show me one difference between the job description of a journalist and a fact checker. If it walks like a duck, if it looks like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck! You can’t seriously fall for this.
Ten years ago, the online right waged a battle against “journalism.” And they won. The con artists are back. Dressed as fact-checkers. The struggle starts all over again.