A fact-checking website touted its “editorial independence” in defending an article that attempted to debunk claims that a photo of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in tears near a border detention facility was staged.
Despite being mocked online for its article countering the photo-op claims, PolitiFact’s editor told Fox News Tuesday that they “stand by our fact-check” and because they are “nonpartisan,” they do not “take policy positions, so we never publish fact-checks to advance political points.”
Before @AOC hit the national stage & was just a fairly unknown House candidate frm NYC,she took time awy frm her campaign & came dwn to #Tornillo to protest the #tentcity housing migrant children.I made these previously unpublished fotos a yr ago today. #elpaso #aoc #onassignment pic.twitter.com/SWyyI1XVt9
— Ivan Pierre Aguirre (@i_p_a_1) June 25, 2019
PolitiFact was standing by an article published Monday, titled “No, this isn’t a photo of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez crying over a parking lot,” written by Ciara O’Rourke and Duke University student Stefanie Pousoulides, responding to criticism that the photos of Ocasio-Cortez were not, in fact, staged.
Ocasio-Cortez posted the photos herself in June, one year after they were taken.
I’ll never forget this, because it was the moment I saw with my own eyes that the America I love was becoming a nation that steals refugee children from their parents,& caged them.
More kids died after this. To date, no one has been held accountable.
We need to save these kids. https://t.co/HhdMqc5zML
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 25, 2019
The photos in question, taken near a border detention facility in Tornillo, Texas before her primary race in 2018, were posted by photographer Ivan Pierre Aguirre to his Twitter account earlier this year. But questions arose about what the freshman congresswoman was actually looking at since the photos only showed her emotional reactions.
I’ve no idea whether her emotional reactions are authentic, but they looked ‘staged’ to me.
– – –
‘Painful to look at’: AOC retweets emotional photos of herself at border, is called out for ‘staged’ stunt https://t.co/OAStz4WGAo via @BIZPACReview
— ⚖️ ⓋoxⓆuindaro ?? (@VoxQUINDARO) June 26, 2019
“Critics pounced, posting to social media that the congresswoman was crying over nothing more than a parking lot,” the PolitiFact article maintained, though Ocasio-Cortez “was just beyond the toll plaza for the Tornillo facility, and … standing on a road that led to the Tornillo tent complex, which was in the line of her gaze, as she stood at the fence.”
PolitiFact reportedly spoke with Aguirre and other photographers and reviewed images in determining that it was “false” to claim the New York Democrat was crying in front of an “empty parking lot.”
“It isn’t a parking lot,” Aguirre told the outlet. “It’s the road leading to the camp.”
Was @AOC crying over a parking lot while protesting family separation? False, she was standing on a road to a migrant facility, which was in her line of gaze, and was just beyond the port of entry. https://t.co/iDpcPCzcwh
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) July 22, 2019
“We work hard to present accurate, authoritative information to readers of all political opinions and viewpoints,” Angie Drobnic Holan, the editor of PolitiFact, told Fox News, dismissing the critics who mocked the outlet Tuesday, accusing the site of intentionally giving the story a “false” rating.
Is PolitiFact on AOC’s payroll yet? https://t.co/ogj8mbALio
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) July 23, 2019
“Readers may sometimes disagree with a specific rating or report, but they gain knowledge from the report itself, and they understand that over the long term our mission is guided by editorial independence,” Holan said.
“Our fact-check does not describe the protest scene merely as ‘an empty road,’ she added. “Rather, the road is part of a larger site that our fact-check fully documents and explains. We include both detailed description and photographic documentation of the site, which the original posts did not. We stand by our fact-check and consider it part of the important work we do debunking misinformation on the Internet.”
yeah ok. pic.twitter.com/9gPf1iv0QK
— Alex VanNess (@thealexvanness) July 23, 2019
But commentators were not buying the fact-checking website’s narrative on Tuesday and called out the distinction it was making between an empty road and a parking lot.
This Politifact article reads like a conspiracy theorist Reddit post. pic.twitter.com/WyjSRzU5eT
— neontaster (@neontaster) July 23, 2019
I get Politifact’s point that the facility was in her line of sight, but the photos of her being upset and crying when she’s so far removed from what she believes was happening in the far-off facility makes Politifact’s argument clownish.
— Miguel de Leon (@xchixm) July 23, 2019
Don’t copy/paste a generic response to me and think it helps make your “fact check” look credible.
— Alex VanNess (@thealexvanness) July 23, 2019
On the list of all time dumbest “Fact Checks” by this organization, this is near the top.
“It isn’t a parking lot, It’s the road” is pretty much the dumbest clarification of all time.
— Andrew Follett (@AndrewCFollett) July 22, 2019
Well thats not true. She did declare for 7 months that the emergency was fabricated and voted nay on a bill that would have allocated funding to assist with the emergency.
— DrDoom (@CallsignDrDoom) July 22, 2019
Aha, thanks for clarifying it wasn’t an empty lot but an empty road.
Ah yes, but she did see buildings in the offing! That must’ve been what stirred her passions! ?
— Dov Hikind (@HikindDov) July 23, 2019
She was looking at this and became confused pic.twitter.com/wZzbobwOLX
— Mike (@07MikeL07) July 22, 2019
— Aldous Huxley’s Ghost™ (@AF632) July 22, 2019
“… also confirmed the fence in front of Ocasio-Cortez was positioned on a road that led to the facility, and that on either side of the road was a stone wall. “
So, NOT a parking lot. AOC was crying over a ROAD. Her pouty face was due to a ROAD.
— david erickson (@davider39695844) July 23, 2019
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