Fraudulent 'Fact Checks' and Preemptive Narratives

On the morning before the Media Research Center's 25th Anniversary Gala, which yours truly was privileged to attend, it occurred to me that the news-originating press has added a second new tactic -- preemptive narratives -- to its "reelect Barack Obama at all costs" playbook.

The first new tactic is cited in an unprecedented and badly needed letter that MRC head Brent Bozell and over 20 other conservative leaders, commentators, and media personalities sent to ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC -- the four Obama-worshipping alphabet networks -- on September 25. The signers accurately accused the recipients of "rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome."

Those who dismiss the letter signers' complaints could not be more wrong.

To be sure, the first seven of the eight establishment press tactics cited in the letter, a few of which include "painting conservative ideas as extreme," "submerging the truly horrendous economic conditions" (but only in Democratic administrations), and double standards in reporting on candidates' mistakes and gaffes, have been around virtually since the dawn of television. One would have thought that things couldn't get any worse with these and the rest of the letter's first seven identified offenses than they were in 2008; but the press, particularly the named TV networks and their cable cousins, have ramped them up to new levels in 2012.

The letter's eighth identified tactic -- the wide-ranging employment of "journalist"-authored, truth-challenged, narrative-driving, Democrat candidate campaign-assisting "fact checks" -- is new with this presidential election cycle. The abuse of "fact checks" has become so rampant that it's reasonable to believe that their creations are coordinated with Democrats in key campaigns to, well, rig the game.

To cite just one example, several sources with intimate knowledge of the pioneering welfare reform law of 1996 and its sixteen subsequent years of implementation have consistently expressed alarm at the administration's recent and likely illegal policy directive allowing the use of waivers to ease the clear work requirements contained in the law:

  • On the afternoon it was released, the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector, who crafted the original legislation, asserted that the July 12 directive issued by the Department of Health and Human Services "guts" and "is the end of" welfare reform.
  • In early September, Mickey Kaus, a Democrat who has championed welfare reform and its results for years, reacted to more detailed analysis by Rector and others by writing that the HHS directive's pretensive support of the work requirement is "not as big a scam as I’d thought it was. It’s a much bigger scam."
  • On September 19, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board wrote that "[t]he Administration has made welfare's work requirements far weaker, and for ideological reasons that the press corps has failed to report."

The press has done a lot more than merely fail to report it.