When a media watchdog calls out a fact-checker

When a media watchdog calls out a fact-checker

Media watchdog Media Research Center is fighting back after PolitiFact accused it of posting misleading information about hospitalizations from COVID-19.  

When a media watchdog calls out a fact-checker

A prominent media watchdog that documents left-wing propaganda is going after PolitiFact, and also its left-wing donations from billionaire megadonors, after enduring biased fact-checking for years.

Led by Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell, more than 40 conservative leaders have sent an open letter to the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) asking it to remove PolitiFact from its list of approved fact-checkers.

Florida-based Poynter Institute launched the IFCN in 2015 as a main source for fact-checking organizations to agree to and adhere to a set of standards and principles.

PolitiFact is operated by Poynter, too, but the fact-checking website has been criticized and mocked by conservatives for fact-checking obscure Facebook posts, for example, while Democrat politicians are rarely cornered by their own fact-challenged claims.

MRC spokesman Dan Gainor says his group has been on the receiving end of numerous claims of “false” information from PolitiFact including, most recently, for using a CDC graphic to show the low number of hospitalizations in many areas of the country. For its own graphic, the CDC used the counties that comprise the Coronavirus Disease 2019-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET), which shows fewer than 2,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. with COVID-19. That coverage area includes about 100 counties in 10 major U.S. states.

“Basically they were saying, You didn't include enough information,” Gainor says of PolitiFact’s August 5 fact-check, which can be read here. “But it's a graphic. Graphics, by definition, compress information.”

Along with the graphic, MRC included links to web pages that gave the full context of the graph.

Gainor, Dan (MRC) Gainor

According to the fact-check, MRC was claiming there were approximately 2,000 people hospitalized across the country, but that itself would be an odd claim to make, and an easy one to refute, since many hospitals across the country are crowded with patients.  

PolitiFact, in fact, assumes in its fact-check that MRC was attempting to mislead the public rather than putting the numbers in context, which is a pretty standard tactic for the fact-checking website itself. PolitiFact then goes on to describe the number of hospitalized patients in Florida and Texas, which are incidentally “red” states that have witnessed relentless left-wing media coverage of their cases and scrutiny of their Republican leaders.

In the letter to Poynter, Bozell and the other groups listed numerous examples in which PolitiFact tip-toed around the truth when the target was a Democrat, such as White House press secretary Jen Psaki. 

It is doubtful the letter will be well-received by Poynter, which is likely well-aware that MRC ripped Poynter in an August 9 article for accepting donations from George Soros's Open Society Foundation and from the Omidyar Network, named for far-left billionaire Pierre Omidyar.