Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were repeatedly accused by the media of making false claims during the Republican national convention. The reporters didn't just question the accuracy of certain statements as they might have done in years past. They flatly stated that the assertions were found to be false by the fact checkers.
However, just because someone hangs out a shingle that says "fact checker," that doesn't mean they have a lock on the truth. Heck, it doesn't even prove that they are credible. This is particularly true in politics, where facts often mingle with opinions. Like initial reports about breaking stories, the findings of self-appointed fact checkers should be greeted with skepticism.
It's not terribly surprising that the mainstream media has pounced on the opportunity provided by the fact checkers. The media's credibility among the American public is at an all-time low. Most Americans perceive the media as terribly biased. No doubt, many media figures believe they can boost their credibility-or at least shield themselves from further charges of bias-by hiding behind self-styled fact checkers.
Fact-checking websites use a number of tactics to convince visitors that they are fair and reliable. They claim to be non-partisan. They demonstrate their neutrality by criticizing both sides. They show that they are thorough and nuanced by assessing some claims as partially true and others as partially false. And they use gimmicks such as the "Truth-O-Meter" to convince people that they are singularly focused on gauging the truth.
Take for instance PolitiFact.com. This fact-checking website is operated by the Tampa Bay Times, a newspaper widely considered anti-Republican (and known to some as the "Florida Pravda"). However, if a website purports to be fact checker, then shouldn't it be operated by people who can legitimately claim to be impartial? PolitiFact is staffed by the same old reporters and researchers.
Because you are so critical of Politifact one would assume that you have an alternative. I don't wish to attack you or deny you the right to your opinion however, since you were concerened enough to write an article about biased fact reporting groups perhaps you would do me the favor of identifying a group that is not biased. Or are you just another person with a pen that has plenty of complaints but offer no solutions?
We saw it again last night: reporters dismissing claims simply because some self-appointed fact checkers said so. The solution is critical thinking: do your own research and draw your own conclusions. I'm skeptical of anyone who claims to be a political "fact checker"--particularly during campaign season. And I consider exposing this latest deception as a service in and of itself.