(Image Credit – Gage Skidmore)
When the Trump era is remembered one or two decades from now, some terms and practices will be recalled as well. Fake news and fact checks will be on the same list.
When Trump first came to the political scene in June 2015, he said things the media never imagined a Republican candidate would. Every day, in tweets and interviews, rallies and talk shows, Trump said the most absurd things without a care in the world.
The media, perpetually stunned as they are prone to being, thought Trump would stop if they told the world he is lying. It didn’t turn out as they thought it would.
Fact Check Culture – Its Role and Misuse
Fact-checking is a noble practice. In a world with frankly too much information to digest, fact checks are like special antacids. They help neutralize all useless and false information. In countries where governments use propaganda to influence people, fact checks can be a revolutionary tool. A more informed electorate is always a better option.
In America, fact checks can be very powerful too.
However, there is a problem with the way the media currently uses fact checks.
The power of fact checks lies in its impartiality. If you specifically choose the politician or official you are fact-checking, the entire point of the process comes into question.
Fact Checks in the Trump Era
In the Trump era, fact checks have become a tool used specifically to trounce Trump.
Here’s something the media doesn’t know – the American public know that Trump is a liar. They also know everyone else in DC are liars as well. They think (correctly) that most mainstream media hosts and pundits are liars too.
The fact that the media unilaterally uses its fact check powers to target Trump and his posse belittles the entire point of fact-checking. When normal people see CNN fact-checking Trump on the smallest of things, they shrug. The American people don’t believe their presidents are truth-telling savants who were blessed by the Dalai Lama at birth. They know Trump lies. They also know Obama lied about bringing the troops back home and Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq.
When people see fact-checking Trump with a passion, they wonder where this enthusiasm was when Obama was bombing Yemen. They wonder why the media never did a story on the faults of Obamacare. Yes, Trump lies, but where was the same passion when Bush was sending young American men and women to their death?
The Snobbery of the Fact Check Culture
There is a guy in most parties who likes to correct people a lot. He is usually the guy everyone hates. After a while, people stop inviting him to parties.
Trust in the mainstream media has been low for some years now. Many media personalities blame people like Trump for this. If you base your entire journalistic identity on calling out Trump for every lie he utters, while looking the other way while Democrats get away with all kinds of nonsense, you will not be trusted.
There is merit in fact-checking Trump, there is no denying that. However, the fact-checkers need to turn their spotlight to other politicians who only pretend to stand for good but side with whoever fits their greed.
Only then will the fact check culture have real value.