PolitiFact, a nonprofit ostensibly dedicated to fact-checking lies, has taken to telling veritable lies of its own in defense of the current crop of 2020 Democrat presidential candidates.
Last Friday, on the five-year anniversary of the legally-justified Ferguson shooting, candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris posted tweets in defense of deceased suspect Michael Brown. In their tweets, each candidate falsely referred to Brown’s fatal shooting at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson as a “murder:”
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019
Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 9, 2019
That was a factually inaccurate claim, i.e., a bold-faced lie. But instead of admitting that in its fact-check of the 2020 contenders, PolitiFact decided to weave a propagandish tale about words and their otherwise clear-cut meanings.
“There is no question that Wilson killed Brown, and there’s strong evidence that it was not accidental,” the nonprofit wrote. “In discussing the case with legal experts, however, we found broad consensus that ‘murder’ was the wrong word to use — a legal point likely familiar to Harris, a longtime prosecutor, and Warren, a law professor.”
That would mean Harris and Warren lied, yes? Not so, according to a slew of left-wing activists cited by Politifact: “[E]xperts who have studied police-related deaths and race relations said that focusing too much on the linguistics in controversial cases comes with its own set of problems.”
“I don’t know if the legalistic distinction intensifies the anger, but it does feel like an attempt to shift the debate from a discussion about the killing of black and brown people by police,” Jean Brown, who reportedly teaches journalism at Texas Christian University, said.
“This is unfortunate, because rather than discussing the need for de-escalation tactics and relations between police and communities of color, this has become a conversation about legal terms. Quite frankly, it’s a distraction that doesn’t help the discussion.”
It’s unclear why someone in the field of journalism — which ideally should about the discovery and dissemination of truth — would be more concerned about spreading a narrative about the allegedly racially motivated “killing of black and brown people by police” than she would be about sticking to the proper, legally accurate facts …
Based on the “expert opinions” of individuals such as Brown, Politi-Fact ultimately chose to not submit a final fact-check rating on Harris Warren’s lie. And in doing so, they told their own lie.
“Because the significance of Harris’ and Warrens’ use of the word is open to some dispute, we won’t be rating their tweets on the Truth-O-Meter,” Politi-Fact’s fact-check continued.
It is not in dispute that Brown wasn’t murdered. It’s a fact — one admitted to by PolitiFact:
NEW: Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren called Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson a “murder.” Legally, it wasn’t. How much should this word choice matter? https://t.co/Gnv0ZBFCZs pic.twitter.com/H3usKiPyCy
— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) August 14, 2019
“Legally, it wasn’t,” the tweet above from PolitiFact clearly states. Yet the nonprofit continued its official fact-check by explaining why lying about the senators’ lie is OK.
“Some legal experts argued that there’s a difference between being legally precise and using language more informally,” its fact-check continued.
As evidence, it then cited the words of University of Missouri law professor Ben Trachtenberg.
“When my grandmother read the newspaper, she would sometimes blurt, ‘It’s a crime!’ in response to a story,” he said. “Everyone present realized that she did not literally mean that someone described in the article had violated a criminal statute. It seems at least possible that (Harris and Warren) wished to convey a sentiment like my grandmother once did and did not intend to apply the criminal law of Missouri as one might on a law school exam.”
It’s unclear how a professor of law, of all people, would be incapable of recognizing the difference between an exasperated random grandmother making hyperbolic statements while reading an upsetting newspaper story, and a Democrat presidential candidate telling a bold-faced lie to the broader public.
What seems clear to PolitiFact’s many criticss is that it isn’t interested the truth — nor are its “experts,” be their purported journalist experts or purported legal experts.
@PolitiFact: “does being honest and telling the truth matter? How much do facts matter?”
— Austin Jabs (@ajabs85) August 15, 2019
It must be nice to know that if you falsely accuse someone of murder, @PolitiFact will be there to help you out. https://t.co/RRxnXDmK7i
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) August 15, 2019
Welcome to @PolitiFact , where liberal lies get explained away through an avalanche of nuance and double speak.
— Michael Lewis (@MichaelLewis73) August 14, 2019
The word choice should matter a whole lot, given that it separates truth from fiction
— Harry Khachatrian (@Harry1T6) August 15, 2019
In which @Politifact twists itself in knots so as not to acknowledge the obvious falsity of Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris’s claim that Michael Brown was “murdered” in Ferguson, Mo. It’s almost a parody. https://t.co/TyEf9Lrf92
— Brit Hume (@brithume) August 14, 2019
“@PolitiFact Hammered For Avoiding Ruling On @SenWarren, @KamalaHarris Claim That Michael Brown Was ‘Murdered'”
NO, Brown was NOT “MURDERED.” Obama’s DOJ cleared the cop!https://t.co/647eOiaC0R#ElizabethWarren#KamalaHarris #MediaBiasProtectsDemocrats #PolitiFactFakeNews
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) August 15, 2019
so “word choice” is the new euphemism for “lie.” Any Republicans who enjoy this courtesy?
— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) August 14, 2019
Despite PolitiFact’s glaring history of mistruths, it’s still routinely cited as a legitimate source by the mainstream media.
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