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  • Jun. 4th, 2020



    Facebook is fact checking. What could go wrong?

    Facebook is collaborating with USA Today to fact check posts on the social media platform, and they chose one of our posts to address. Needless to say, the process did not live up to Mark Zuckerberg’s own public statements about his company’s effort:

    “Although Facebook does use independent fact-checkers who review content on its social networks, the point of the fact-checkers is to ‘really catch the worst of the worst stuff,’ Zuckerberg said.

    “‘The point of that program isn’t to try to parse words on is something slightly true or false,’ he said.”

    Hmm. In fact, USA Today’s fact check of us boils down precisely to a parsing of words. The fact checker writes:

    “NumbersUSA’s use of the term “amnesty” in the article is misleading. The HEROES Act would only temporarily protect certain immigrant workers."

    In fact, our article explains the temporary nature of the amnesty:

    “The bill would grant deferred action and work authorization to illegal aliens, working in “critical infrastructure” occupations, until 90 days after the end of the declared national emergency."

    USA Today made multiple corrections to their fact check when we contacted them, including typos, bad links, and use of the word “undocumented” that violated most journalistic style guides. A college undergrad was the original author of the fact check, but editors got involved once we contacted them. The final “fact check” confirms our analysis of the bill. But they decided not to change their rating.

    Zuckerberg claims that the program isn’t about parsing words or weighing in on something that is “slightly true or false.” Yet, the USA Today "fact check" boils down to a disagreement over the meaning of a word. And their verdict? “Partially false.”


    Matt Taibbi describes fact check programs as part of “a giant finger-wagging machine.”

    There is “a central problem,” he says, “with their emphasis on ‘authoritative’ opinions.”

    “‘Authorities’ by their nature are untrustworthy. Sometimes they have an interest in denying truths, and sometimes they actually try to define truth as being whatever they say it is. ’Elevating authoritative content’ over independent or less well-known sources is an algorithmic take on the journalistic obsession with credentialing that has been slowly destroying our business for decades.”

    Over at Politico, Pamela Paresky, Jonathan Haidt, Nadine Strossen, and Steven Pinker expressed alarm about declining journalistic standards, specifically in The New York Times, arguing that the paper “surrendered to an outrage mob,” and, gave “an imprimatur of legitimacy to the false and ad hominem attacks…”

    The authors point to several examples, including one where The Times "redacted a published essay based on concerns about retroactive moral pollution, not about accuracy." (Emphasis mine)

    We in the immigration-reduction movement know exactly what they’re talking about, don’t we? All too often, civil debate about limits is cut off or denied with the justification that the topic is too morally fraught to consider.

    The New York Times itself is not completely unaware of declining standards, at least when it comes to other publications. New “media columnist” Ben Smith , the former editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed News, took a critical look at the work of celebrity journalist Ronan Farrow, and his conclusions capture many of the challenges we have experienced together for years (emphasis mine):

    “He delivers narratives that are irresistibly cinematic — with unmistakable heroes and villains — and often omits the complicating facts and inconvenient details that may make them less dramatic. At times, he does not always follow the typical journalistic imperatives of corroboration and rigorous disclosure, or he suggests conspiracies that are tantalizing but he cannot prove.”

    “Mr. Farrow, 32, is not a fabulist. His reporting can be misleading but he does not make things up. His work, though, reveals the weakness of a kind of resistance journalism that has thrived in the age of Donald Trump: That if reporters swim ably along with the tides of social media and produce damaging reporting about public figures most disliked by the loudest voices, the old rules of fairness and open-mindedness can seem more like impediments than essential journalistic imperatives.”

    What are the “essential journalistic imperatives” in the 21st century? The jury’s out. In the meantime, we must work with what we’ve got. And that’s not nothing.


    For instance, Angela Nagle (“The Left Case against Open Borders”) and Michael Tracey’s autopsy of the Bernie Sanders campaign argues, in a nutshell, that Bernie blew it on immigration:

    “The American Left’s now common claim, offered only in hindsight, that twenty-first-century capitalism never would have permitted a candidate such as Sanders to succeed is also belied by the inconvenient detail that social democratic parties elsewhere in the world, which adopted a different style of politics, have managed to win impressive victories in recent years. While the Left has suffered a wave of crushing defeats—most notably Jeremy Corbyn’s loss of Labour’s historic working-class “red wall” last December—there are some parties that buck the trend. The Danish Social Democrats, for instance, won in 2019 on a set of economic policies that would be considered wildly left-wing by U.S. standards, but they also supported greater restrictions on immigration."

    Nagle and Tracey aren’t the first to acknowledge in the media that voters care about the level of immigration and the credibility of limits. Just a few months ago, President Obama said “You go survey the average Democrat and they still think there’s such a thing as a border. And if you don’t speak to those values, then you may be in for a rude shock.”

    Obama’s message still hasn’t sunk in with much of the media. But that’s where we come in. Every thoughtful comment online, in a letter to the editor, or on social media (yes, social media can be used for good) defies the gatekeepers and opens up the conversation to audiences who don’t know where to go to talk about these things.

    One more quick anecdote for you. The Orange County Register falsely claimed that Americans opposed reforms that would end chain migration and make E-Verify mandatory of American businesses. When we showed them that polling consistently shows the opposite, they chose to remove the references to E-Verify and chain migration rather than report that they are popular reforms. The story now says “Polls show a majority of Americans support the DACA program, and even those who are against illegal immigration have found a soft spot for people who were brought to the country as children.”

    That’s the state of today’s immigration reporting for you. It’s rough out there, but we’re dedicated to bringing you the diamonds

    George W Bush
  • It is all you Democrats that love all the corporate socialism.
    You liberals just love to give billions of taxpayer dollars to billionaire job creators that sit on their chairs all day.
    The problem with you liberals is you don’t know that the only jobs billionaire CEOS want to create is in Communist China and any other slave labor countries they can build a factory in.
    They should be tried for treason.

    Davy Crockett
    Jimmy Carter became president, he placed all his investments — even his own peanut farm — into a blind trust so that there wasn’t even the slimmest chance his decisions could affect his personal income.

    But today that’s not how most members of Congress operate. Senator Richard Burr, for example, made 33 transactions in a single day just before the stock market crashed in February. He had just received a private briefing from federal officials warning of the devastating impact the coronavirus would have on the United States.1

    Meanwhile, Senator Kelly Loeffler sold $20 million in stock in three separate deals in late February and early March after receiving the same closed door briefing — and even invested money in a company that makes protective gear for health care workers. Her husband runs the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, which gave her a huge payday when she entered the Senate.2

    Congressional ownership of stock threatens to derail effective oversight of the massive federal bailout program. Representative Donna Shalala, who was appointed to the bailout oversight commission, was revealed to have made more than 500 stock trades after taking office and didn’t follow the rules in reporting it.3 There’s no way she can fairly and effectively oversee the bailout when she engages in this behavior

    Steve Martin

    The True Believe
  • Yesterday, Donald Trump said this about how people in Minnesota and throughout America are reacting to the death of George Floyd:

    “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

    Trump, of course, did not come up with the “looting … shooting” phrase himself. It was used by southern white police officials and politicians during the Civil Rights era, including infamous segregationist and presidential candidate George Wallace.

    Trump later claimed he wasn’t familiar with the history of the phrase. Given his overall lack of knowledge about most things, that may be true.

    But it hardly matters.

    The president of the United States was advocating that American citizens be shot on sight for activity perhaps no more severe than breaking windows or stealing toaster ovens

    Ken Loggins

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