Unethical Website Of The Month: Once Again, Snopes Proves It Cannot, Should Not, And Must Not Be Trusted

I definitively laid out how lazy, biased and deceptive Snopes is, here and elsewhere.  Yet Google and Facebook still rely on the fact-checking site. This is signature significance: it can only mean that these businesses want biased standards to rule the day. The Daily Caller just called out a typical example of Snopes’ unethical work. As with its spinning for Hillary Clinton that I flagged in 2016, this is egregious and irrefutable.

Here is a meme that has been circulating on the web:

It’s a lie, fake news, wrong, however you want to describe it. It’s just not true. The X’s are through some people who weren’t members of Congress. X’s also cover the faces of Jodey Arrington, Ron Estes, Liz Cheney, Michael Burgess, Patrick McHenry, Jason Smith, Bradley Byrne, Markwayne Mullin, Paul Mitchell, Glenn Grothman, Doug Lamborn, and Tim Walberg, all of whom were re-elected. There were other errors as well. Politico reporter Jake Sherman observed that the meme “is actually more incorrect than correct.”

In other words, a typical internet meme.

Nevertheless, Snopes fact-checker Bethania Palma ruled it accurate. To do so, she used Snopes favorite trick, falsely characterizing what the claim was. Palma rated it “true” that “The Congressional seats of almost three dozen Republicans who voted to repeal Obamacare were lost to Democrats in 2018” when the meme clearly said that everyone in the picture who was Xed voted for repeal and was voted out of office. Her claim is pure deceit. “In the meme, red ‘X’ marks were drawn through the faces of 33 lawmakers who purportedly were rejected by voters in the 6 November 2018 midterm elections,” Palma wrote. Wrong. They weren’t all “lawmakers,” and they weren’t all defeated.

Incredibly, after the Daily Caller clearly explained why Snopes, as it so often is, was spouting nonsense to bolster a Democratic agenda, Snopes dpubled down. From the Daily Caller:

Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson defended the inaccurate fact check in an email to TheDCNF.

“The overall point offered by the meme in question is that some 33 Republican members of Congress who voted to repeal the ACA lost their seats. And as our fact check documents, that point is correct,” Mikkelson wrote. “The meme isn’t really about the specific persons who appear in the accompanying photograph, as they weren’t identified by name and are largely unrecognizable to viewers as shown due to the small size of the photograph and the fact that their heads are obscured with red X’s,” Mikkelson insisted.

“Our audience is intelligent enough to understand the difference between a literal representation and a symbolic one,” he added, denying that the fact check was misleading.

This unconscionable, Dan Rather-like “It’s true, just not accurate” argument should be sufficient, all by itself, to prove Snopes’ lack of trustworthiness.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Unethical Websites

10 responses to “Unethical Website Of The Month: Once Again, Snopes Proves It Cannot, Should Not, And Must Not Be Trusted

  1. Matthew B

    Regarding the last sentence:
    Dan Rather did not actually utter the phrase “Fake but accurate.” It was actually a headline that the NY Times used to lead the story covering CBS’s reporting on the memo when CBS interviewed Col. Killian’s secretary. She said that the memo was clearly a forgery, “but it accurately reflects the contents of the real memo.”

    The NY Times was very blunt but highly accurate, in that Dan Rather was basically arguing the point that it was “fake but accurate” by reporting what Col Killian’s secretary said. It was quite shocking to me that the NY Times would coin a phrase that was simultaneously so beneficial to Bush and so damming for CBS and Rather, their brethren media.

    It does make me wonder if the NY Times would ever repeat that same type of thing if they were reporting on Trump. I’m highly skeptical that would happen.

    • A.M. Golden

      I’m not sure there is a moratorium on using anything if it could knock Trump.

      • Matthew B.

        I’m confused by your comment, my point is exactly the opposite. I have deep doubt that one media outlet would expose the lies of another media outlets if it would benefit Trump.

  2. Willem Reese

    Snopes seems to be getting progressively worse. Up to this example, the variation of this trick that we’ve seen is for them to make the initial (title) statement as some contrived variant of the claim in question. Then, having created this straw-man, they can “debunk” or “prove” it to support their preferred narrative. This has been covered in your previous posts & comments on Snopes.

    Bethania Palma, their “fact-checker” in this case, must be a newbie who hasn’t learned all the company tricks yet. She even failed to use the “This led many to believe…” gambit often employed as part of a Snopes “proof”. Palma presented the actual claim, and was then forced to go into more than the usual extraordinary contortions to support it. Maybe LaCapria should mentor her until she’s ready to produce somewhat more traditional Snopery.

  3. Sent to snopes.com 11/14/2018, (have heard nothing in return to date):

    I submitted a “correction”

    Did David Hogg Give the Nazi Salute?

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/david-hogg-give-nazi-salute/

    You rated it “FALSE”

    I suggest you print a retraction and appropriately groveling and contrite apology!

    Paul W. Schlecht

  4. joed68

    “Incredibly, after the Daily Caller clearly explained why Snopes, as it so often is, was spouting nonsense to bolster a Democratic agenda, Snopes dpubled down.”

    I have to take issue with “incredibly”. It’s just one of a number of their regularly-utilized tactics that make trying to argue a point with leftists an extremely-irritating exercise in futility.

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