who fact checks the fact checkers?

The Daily Mail, an infamously fact-averse tabloid, decided to fire a preemptive shot against Snopes by smearing its founders and screaming bias.

liar

People have finally remembered that yes, they do give anyone on the web a website without checking they are who they claim they are and decided to deal with the very real problem of fake news. Not everyone is happy about this turn of events of course, particularly the peddlers of fake news and the devoted fans of their work loathe to leave their bubbles, convinced that any disagreement with them is a sinister conspiracy, typically by leftists and the global elites, a.k.a. Jews. Since their business model depends of telling their readers what they want to hear, some of the top purveyors of fake news are on a mission to discredit the very concept of fact checking. They can’t, since they objectively lie on a disturbingly regular basis and know it, so they are doing their best to discredit those who discredit them first. And the perfect example of this is the Daily Mail’s vicious screed about Snopes, one of the services Facebook decided to use for fact checking to deal with their huge news curation problem. So what does the famous tabloid say?

Well, according to the great minds at the Mail, you shouldn’t trust Snopes because the man who originally started the site is claimed to have paid a lot of money for escorts and played fast and loose with his expense accounts, and one of the fact checkers is a researcher by day and escort by night. This is the entirety of their argument why Snopes is untrustworthy. They have a sex worker on staff and the couple who ran it is fighting over money. There isn’t a single example of them getting a single story wrong, or publishing an unfounded, debunked rumor, or a single mistake in their refutations shown with better sources to confirm that they made a mistake. It’s just a massive ad hominem by angry tabloid hacks terrified that someone will be assigned to debunk their notorious yellow journalism in real time and taking away their clicks and ad revenue, and hordes of ditto heads in the comments who are so busy nodding along, they’re in danger of giving themselves whiplash while shaking their fists at the notion of a sex worker doing fact checks.

There’s a reason why it’s known as the Daily Fail and the Daily Heil, has an online generator parodying its clickbait headlines, and “Daily Mail reader” is an insult in the UK. In fact, in the opening sequence of the British gangster flick Layer Cake, the intentionally nameless main character played by Daniel Craig lays into the Daily Mail’s propensity to fan moralistic hysterics. For as long as it existed, it’s been pretty much anti-everything new or different, and during the start of Hitler’s reign famously praised the Nazis. It’s track record for publishing outright made up stories is the stuff of legend. They straight up fabricated a clip about an Australian astronomer finding signs of life on a then newly discovered planet in the habitable zone of its star by mangling together his quotes from different papers and fanning the flames online, so much so that when I contacted the astronomer about it, he was exasperated from seeing himself ridiculed for saying something he never actually said in news stories across the world. When a random techie with a blog and e-mail can debunk your story, surely the people working for Snopes aren’t having to strain too hard to fill up on entries showing where you went wrong.

And that’s what terrifies the Daily Fail, as The Guardian points out. There is a segment of people who hate the AP, PolitFact, and Snopes, and will believe that they’re all tools of the evil liberal establishment because they don’t back the stories they desperately want to be true, and will find anything they can use to discredit anyone who has the temerity to point out that they bought a fake or misleading story hook, line, and sinker. Those Daily Mail readers had to be reassured that those nasty liberals with their “facts” and “evidence” are just jealous of how awesome and trustworthy their favorite tabloid is, but in light of the fact that they can’t actually refute the fact checkers, they’re just going to call the people associated with them greedy perverts and leave it at that. But the problem is that at some point, those not committed to a blind partisan ideology, will view them as the pundits who cried bias. Just the fact that they chose Snopes, a low-hanging fruit, instead of a massive, buttoned up organization like PolitFact speaks volumes. The Mail’s editors are unable to punch up when squaring off with researchers, so they revert to their celeb tabloid roots and ruffle through old dirty laundry and call it a day.

# oddities // fake news / journalism / social media


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