by Jay Johansen | May 10, 2022
Lately the media are big on having "fact checkers" tell us what claims are true and what are false. Great idea ... except often these fact checks seem pretty shaky.
Here's one of my favorites: PolitiFact: Black Lives Matter
They say that a claim has been circulated that Black Lives Matter protests "injured 1000 police officer, killed 36 people, and did $8 billion in damage". They label this claim "false". They say this is "false news" and "misinformation".
Then they get to the details: They can only confirm 700 police officer injured, 19 deaths, and $1.4 billion in damage.
Even if we suppose that "we can't confirm" the higher numbers means that they are false, surely the point of the original claim was not the exact numbers but the idea that BLM protests caused a lot of property damage, injury, and death. By their own admission, that claim is absolutely, 100% true. The only thing under debate is exactly how much property damage, injury, and death.
They go on to say that there is no proof that Black Lives Matter was responsible for all this. They organized the protests. Who else would you blame? If a right-wing group organized a protest that turned violent, the media would have no problem pinning the blame on them. If there was one protest that turned violent, you might say that they didn't anticipate that and extremist elements got out of hand. But after the first time a protest turned violent, BLM did not call off further protests or take any steps at all to rein in the violence. If BLM was not directly responsible for the violence, they did nothing to prevent it, or even to disassociate themselves from it.
The "fact check" is, to put it bluntly, a lie.
In 2020, the Biden administration nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Republicans made a number of criticisms of her. Here's a "fact check" on those criticisms, PBS: Republicans Skew Ketanji Brown Jackson's record on crime.
They quote Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn saying, "You have made clear that you believe judges must consider critical race theory when deciding how to sentence criminal defendants". They then say "The Facts". They declare this "incorrect" and say, "Jackson never called for it to be incorporated in federal sentencing nor said it should be used as part of the work as a judge."
But then they're at least honest enough to say where Blackburn might have gotten the idea. They admit that in a speech in 2015, Jackson said, "Sentencing is just plain interesting on an intellectual level, in part because it melds together myriad types of law — criminal law, of course, but also administrative law, constitutional law, critical race theory [emphasis mine], negotiations, and to some extent, even contracts."
So she flat out said that critical race theory should be a factor in sentencing. How, then, does the fact checker declare that she never said that critical race theory should be a factor in sentencing? Marsha Blackburn's statement is 100% true and the fact checker's statement is 100% false.
© 2022 by Jay Johansen
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