Glen Greenwald on “fact checking”

Updated on December 21, 2020 in General Stuff
9 on December 17, 2020

This is a pretty brutal takedown.

The substance has to do with how Instagram is treating this meme of Joe Biden:

There are two examples. On this one, the meme is completely censored, with a note from the “fact check” site that it is false:

In the other example, when you first go to the page, you get something of a splash screen telling you it is false, but have the opportunity to click through to see the original meme:

One interesting point to note: When you click on the “See why” button, you don’t get anything. Even after you click through and get the “See why factcheckers say this is false” message at the bottom, that link doesn’t work.

The Greenwald article does an excellent job of detailing how this specific criticism of the 1994 crime bill has been fairly standard fare within the Democratic party for some time. The idea that the criticism is “false and has no basis in fact” is, itself, false.

Just remarkable.

A few random observations:

  • The libertarian in me says that Instagram (Facebook, really) is free to publish whatever they want. Caveat emptor.
  • No rational observer can maintain the idea of any of these “fact check” sites are anything other than pure partisan bunkum at this point.
  • One more reason that fauxmaha.com exists. I’ve come to the opinion that people who value free thought and free expression can no longer participate in good conscience on those censorious platforms.

Greenwald’s conclusion bears repeating:

This is why it has been so dangerous, so misguided, to acquiesce to a campaign that is being led by corporate media outlets to insist that these tech giants abandon a belief in a free internet and instead censor more aggressively. That a person will now be declared by Facebook’s properties to be a disseminator of disinformation for voicing long-standing and well-documented criticisms of Joe Biden’s crime record is yet another bleak glimpse of a future in which unseen tech overlords police our discourse by unilaterally arbitrating truth and falsity, decree what are permissible and impermissible ideas, and rigidly setting the boundaries of acceptable debate.

 
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0 on December 18, 2020

Fact Check. Gotta love that; who checks the fact checkers.

When you get a chance, El Jef, give this a critical look, and see if you think the article supports the conclusion:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/little-gun-history/

Also, while I’m sure they do good work, check out the origins and funding of one of the sites often used to pillory the minority over at chez soundhole:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Matters_for_America#Funding

John and I discussed this very briefly. Again, it becomes a circle of biased spy vs biased spy.

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0 on December 18, 2020

I’ve got a long history with lies deemed facts by people who have no business claiming to know anything so I’ve never really bought fact checking as a real thing. My view, from professional experience, is that journalists are a minimum of 4 degrees seperated from objective reality and the fact checkers are mopping up their careless left over shit on the floor.

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0 on December 18, 2020

On the question of “fact checking” – The term itself is propaganda. The implication is always that if the “facts” could just be settled, so would the policy debate.

I think that is profoundly (and perhaps willfully) wrong. It is the same thing as claiming the imprimatur of “science” to defend your position.

Just because “the science is settled” (and, btw, it isn’t. That’s not how science works) it does not follow that the policy is settled.

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0 on December 20, 2020

There are so many things that catch fire so fast, it’s impossible to even reach for the extinguisher.  “Fact Checking” as a thing was like that.  I saw it coming.  I knew what it was. 

There was no stopping it.

I’m going to start a list:  The Institution’s Toolbox.  It will be a list of the  tools most often used to keep the institutions from being challenged.

The big hammer for my entire lifetime has always been the ignore.  Whether actually spiking stories that don’t fit the institutional narrative, or simply having no curiosity toward what might challenge it…and therefore, never investigating in that direction, ignoring challenges is the principle tool of my lifetime.  It leaves us shouting into the wind to no effect.

But technology has allowed challenges to get heard anyway.  When Drudge first entered the scene at the end of the 80s, I remember distinctly that I could watch the news at night and see Drudge during the day. 

At first the news tried to simply spike the stories that the fledgling internet was bringing to our attention.  But that clearly didn’t work.  So the next attempt was to release the spiked stories with a spin in hopes of mitigating the political damage.  But that clearly didn’t work either because every time they reported the stories wrong, it was pointed out to their embarrassment.  They had to start issuing corrections.  They were in a tailspin.

…but they obviously recovered. 

But whether it was the “Fairness Doctrine” or the latest attempts to ghetto-ize dissent by fake fact checking on social media, the attempt is always to get back to when the institutions could ignore dissent.

It has become no more complicated than this:  For the institutions to be challenged, it must happen with the sources that they have licensed.  We can talk amongst ourselves, but no matter how truthful the things we share, if they don’t come from the institutions, they cannot be entered into the broader discourse.  It is absolutely air tight.

 

 

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0 on December 21, 2020

“Institution’s Toolbox”

I like that.

Here’s one to add: The false dichotomy.

The current example is “racist” vs “anti-racist”

In the words of Albert Maysles: “Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance”.

EG, “Black Lives Matter”, etc.

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1 on December 21, 2020

I think we’re witnessing a new thing. There is only stay on the attack or be attacked. No more starting something and not following through. If you don’t succeed as the aggressor, you will be the victim.

on December 21, 2020

I’m afraid that you are correct. Worse yet, history has shown that when a culture factions into two competing sides, the majority folks who are reluctant to join either side due to incompatibility with fringe views become the first targets and biggest casualty group.

I’ll be back with more spooky tales from academia on the Weinstein topics later. 

 

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0 on December 21, 2020

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0 on December 21, 2020

Progressive political thought is one of no limits if the political will is strong enough. Literally, if I stare at that sheet of steel long enough, I’ll get through it.

We broke the limits of that kind of thought in 2007 when we finally convinced ourselves that we could simply will the laws of physics to change if we muster enough concentrated effort. And now it’s out of control.

But I remain hopeful that eventually they’ll convince themselves that that steel of steel is truly only an illusion and they’ll knock themselves senseless running at it expecting to get through.

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