Please note the date. This is the day that the self-appointed media “fact-checkers” jumped the shark.
I’ve been a journalist for decades, and have also done opinion writing, radio shows, and a podcast. For everyone doing a presentation of the news, it goes without saying that facts are crucial. The old saw that goes “you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts” is true. I submit that some facts are more important than others. This is one of those times.
First, you have to look at the kinds of stories, observations, and photos these self-appointed media fact-checkers choose to fact check. This is where you must start with fact-checking the fact-checkers.
Why did fact-checkers from Snopes to the Associated Press to USA Today to Reuters choose this meme to verify? The meme shows Joe Biden with known former KKK member and deceased West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Robert Byrd was an undisputed leader of the white supremacist violent terror group the Ku Klux Klan. It notes that Biden eulogized ol’ “Sheets,” as Rush Limbaugh calls the senator.
Placed over the verified photo of Biden with a known KKK member, who later renounced his racist past, are these words (in part):
“Biden with Grand wizard of the KKK. So who again is playing you, lying to you, using you for the votes. Creators of the KKK, opposed civil rights for blacks…”
And here came the fact-checkers. Here’s an example of the kinds of memes that are being fact-checked and the responses.
The moment when media "Fact Checkers" make themselves more irrelevant by calling a Facebook meme showing Joe Biden and former KKK member Robert Byrd "Mostly False" because it got Byrd's KKK job title wrong.
— Victoria Taft (Parler & FB and 5VTaftShow-Insta) (@VictoriaTaft) October 31, 2020
The Google top-line search results list multiple fact-checkers who cast deep doubt on the veracity of the meme by calling it “mostly false,” or “untrue.”
- Biden did not eulogize former KKK “grand wizard” – Associated Press
- “Does This Photo Show Joe Biden with the ‘Grand Wizard of the KKK’?” asks Snopes?
- Fact Check: Joe Biden Did NOT Campaign With Grand Wizard of KKK | Lead Stories
- Fact check: Robert Byrd, eulogized by Joe Biden at funeral, was not KKK Grand Wizard – Reuters
- Fact check: Biden isn’t with KKK grand wizard in photo – USA Today
The fact-checkers’ own headlines belie their bias. These headlines intentionally mislead. They’d like you to believe that it is absurd to believe that Biden associated with a “grand wizard” of the KKK—or anyone in the KKK. Pssh. He did not (foot stomp) eulogize a former KKK “grand wizard,” how dare you? Does this photo really show Joe Biden with a “Grand Wizard of the KKK,” asks Snopes. Come on, guys! Joe Biden did “NOT campaign with [a] Grand Wizard,” says Lead Stories. Byrd was not a “KKK Grand Wizard,” says Reuters in the closest headline to the truth.
So, is it untrue that Joe Biden eulogized a member of the KKK? No. It’s true. This Frontpage Mag headline gives away the fact-checkers’ game.
The Media Would Like Everyone to Know Biden Eulogized a KKK Exalted Cyclops, Not Grand Wizard
Did they fact check that Joe Biden consorted with a known former KKK member? No. They “fact-checked” the job title that former KKK member Robert Byrd had with the white supremacist to, in my opinion, mislead readers. That’s not fact-checking, their headlines were intentionally misleading. Or, as Daniel Greenfield puts it in his Frontpage Mag article, it’s intentional “disinformation.”
This is a particular type of media fact check which uses nitpicking to divert attention from the substantive issue while making it appear that the accurate statements about Biden and Byrd are false. And since Big Tech elevates this media spin under the guise of fact checks, that means anyone searching for the real story will get a barrage of media disinformation instead.
That’s what this is, disinformation.
Why did the fact-checkers choose this meme, knowing that Facebook would put its gray overlay over the meme claiming that it was misleading and untrue? I submit that they chose it to pick apart because it’s effective and they’re seeing it a lot. It’s penetrating.
Robert Byrd was a Ku Klux Klan “Exalted Cyclops,” not a “Grand Wizard.” The meme should have been labeled as mostly true or true because the point of it was, naturally, that Biden consorted with a leader of the white supremacist group. Byrd later renounced his odious past. It’s doesn’t make the meme untrue.
But that was too much truth for the so-called fact-checkers. It made the media’s candidate look bad.