Fact Checking The Fact Checkers

Posted by | September 6, 2012 20:10 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

AP, in its fact check of President Clinton’s speech last night, went so far as to bring up Monica Lewinsky in casting doubt on some of his assertions.  They also made the common media mistake of confusing facts with ideological positions and taking Clinton to task for legitimate criticisms of the Romney/Ryan positions (or lack of positions).  Jamison Foser responds:

The insistence by the Associated Press — and the AP isn’t alone in this — that both parties are equally to blame for everything, particularly partisanship, simply is not consistent with actual facts and history. It’s an ideological claim made by people who wish to be seen, and to see themselves, as perfectly neutral observers, and who (wrongly) think neutrality means pretending the parties’ respective flaws are perfectly symmetrical.

So what does it matter? Certainly, Democrats are occasionally guilty of putting political interests ahead of governing, if not as frequently as Republicans. What, then, is the harm in calling out both parties? Simple: If you pretend that both parties are equally guilty of something that one party does more egregiously, you incentivize that party to continue behaving badly, and the other to behave worse than it already is.

The Republicans have realized that they can lie ten times for every time that the Democrats do and then get away with saying that “everyone is doing it.”  Back during the Bush Administration, the phrase “reality has a liberal bias” became popular.  It is even more true today and by not recognizing it, fact-checkers risk having a conservative bias.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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