Paul Ryan’s convention speech seemed to push the limits of acceptable lying and forced the fact-checkers’ hands. A whole industry of rating politicians’ statements has sprouted out of the on the one hand/on the other” news culture that mainstream organizations struggle so hard to maintain. It doesn’t so much combat it as it does work along side it, allowing a fact-check section on A-4 with a safe lexicon of whoppers, Pinocchios, and tall tales that let you know someone is calling politicians to the mat – “Keepin’ Em Honest” as Anderson Cooper says. But it seems to have had zero effect on actual truthfulness of elected officials.
This fact-checking fad seems just as interested as other parts of the newsroom in applying a false sense of balance to things. This post by Ezra Klein seems to be written solely to reassure himself that he’s not being too biased by calling Ryan a liar. FactCheck.org titled their post on Clinton’s DNC speech “Our Clinton Nightmare” – the idea being it didn’t contain a lot of falsehoods and thus wasn’t fruitful for them. It seems the real nightmare behind this skittishness is having to admit that Republicans just flat out lie more often and more boldly than the other party. It’s a hard thing to come to terms with for media outlets that value The View From Nowhere above all else.
Meanwhile, many of these very outlets are slowly morphing into mini Huffington Posts, with trivial slide shows and click-baiting headlines. It’s hard to tell if this is what people want or just what they are being fed, but it creates a vicious feedback loop. Or more of a spiral, really, circling a drain.”