December 1st, 2022 | RYAN TYLER

When fact-checkers manipulate the truth

Our authoritative messengers of truth often fail to tell us all the facts.
We shouldn't believe the official fact-checkers any more than we should believe everything that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth. Critical thinking is something we're expected to throw aside when dealing with the mainstream, corporate fact-checkers—but we should be approaching everything with an equal amount of doubt. The mainstream fact-checkers find clever ways to contort and distort the facts they are claiming to check, but if you click past the headlines and read all the way through, you can spot their distortions.

Ignoring Certain Facts And Misrepresenting Quotes

Whether you believe Donald Trump's accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election or not, you should refrain from sharing or spreading mainstream fact-checks that twist and contort his words to further “disprove” any and all allegations of voter fraud.
Case in point, a USA Today fact-check from November 11th stating, “Fact Check: 2020 presidential election results are still legitimate, despite Trump's claim”.
First of all, who says the 2020 results are completely legitimate? Voter fraud happens, but not always on a massive scale. We know that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that misdated and undated ballots should not be counted in elections, but that their decision is not retroactive. We know several misdated and undated ballots were counted in Pennsylvania during the 2020 election, but there is “no data” on how many were counted. That tells us that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did, in fact, agree with those who argued that those ballots should not have been counted.
We also know that Pennsylvania still allows ballots with errors to be “cured”. You can read about that here.
As of this November, John Fetterman sued to have the court ruling overturned and to allow undated and misdated ballots to be counted. As of now, we don't know how many “cured” ballots have been counted and whether there were enough to tilt the senate race in his favour.
So, back to that ridiculous USA Today fact-check.
Days before the mid-term elections, Trump took to Truth Social to say, “So the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just ruled, in effect, that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, but they'll let that result stand, however, in future elections you are no longer allowed to do what was done in the 2020 election."
The USA Today fact-checker, Sudiksha Kochi, says, “But [Trump's] claim in baseless.”
Kochi then writes:

No such ruling was made in the state, according to a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State. While Pennsylvania's highest court did rule that undated or misdated ballots should not be counted in the midterms, this ruling does not apply to the 2020 race retroactively, experts say. Lawsuits Trump filed challenging ballot dates in Pennsylvania after the 2020 election all failed.

That's kind of what Trump said in his post. Rather than focus on all of Trump's post, Kochi decided to take one piece of his statement to invalidate and disprove his entire claim as baseless and to reiterate that the 2020 was totally legitimate. The court didn't necessarily rule that the 2020 election was rigged, but they did have the same opinion as Trump and the GOP that misdated and undated ballots should not be counted. In effect, as Trump said, this ruling validates the idea that such ballots should not be counted as legitimate votes—as they were in 2020 and probably again in 2022.
The headline for Kochi's fact-check is also misleading, suggesting that there are no valid questions surrounding the 2020 results.
We know the court ruled to have incorrectly dated ballots segregated, but we also know that Pennsylvania allows incorrect ballots to be cured. We know that the federal Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Agency called the 2020 election the “most secure” in history, which Kochi reiterated, but we also know that that perspective only applies to hackers and external threats to America's electronic election infrastructure—not to mail-in ballots and physical vote counting. We also know that Pennsylvania's majority Democrat-appointed Supreme Court struck down all of Trump's lawsuits on election fraud.
Like all mainstream fact-checks, Kochi's fact-check misrepresents facts, misconstrues quotes and resorts to misdirection to invalidate any claims or allegations of voter fraud in 2020. Her fact-check leaves no room for questions about Pennsylvania's election integrity and relies solely on biased court rulings, unrelated statements by federal agencies and interviews with handpicked “experts”.

Here is a summary of facts that were avoided by USA Today in their fact-check and by the Associated Press in a similar fact-check:
-The federal Cybersecurity And Infrastructure Agency mentioned in Kochi's fact-check protects America's election system from hackers, domestic and abroad. It does not prevent people from curing or counting undated and incorrectly marked physical ballots.
-Pennsylvania's Supreme Court has six sitting justices, four of whom are Democrats.
-There is no data in Pennsylvania on how many incorrect ballots were actually counted in 2020, which is suspect and partly why the Supreme Court ruled that such ballots should be separated.
-Days before the 2022 mid-term elections, John Fetterman sued to have incorrect and undated ballots counted.
-Some Pennsylvania counties are still allowing incorrect ballots to be cured.
-Trump's statement to Truth Social simply paraphrases what the Pennsylvania court ruled and contains Trump's own editorialized opinion, otherwise it is a fair statement that accurately summarizes the court ruling.
-Many unanswered questions still remain about the integrity of the 2020 election in certain states, like how many incorrect ballots were counted and why there is no data on the actual numbers.

Ignoring Inconvenient Claims Made By Experts

One of my favourite and most recent “fact-checks” involves downplaying claims that the new COVID vaccine was promoted to prevent transmission of the virus. In a fact-check from October 18th, Catalina Jaramillo was one of many writers to state, “It's not news, nor scandalous, that Pfizer trial didn't test transmission.”
Really? Because that's exactly what all the experts, doctors, politicians and media were telling us.
In July of 2021, Joe Biden publicly stated, “You're not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” Biden repeated this claim in October of the same year, saying, “We're making sure health care workers are vaccinated, because if you seek care at a health care facility, you should have the certainty that people providing that care are protected from COVID and cannot spread it to you.”
In May of 2021, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said, “Vaccinated people do not carry the virus and do not get sick.” Fortune followed up her statement with an article entitled, “It's Official: Vaccinated People Don't Transmit COVID-19”.
The biggest claim ever made was by Pfizer CEO, Albert Bourla, at the BIO conference in July 2021, when he said, “So far, with the variants that have emerged, we have tested against all those and there is no variant that escapes protection from our vaccine.”
On April 25th, 2021, the CBC published an article suggesting that “a growing body of evidence” showed that vaccines prevent transmission. In an interview, University Of Toronto health professor, Prabhat Jha, who was asked whether the vaccines prevent transmission, stated, “A growing body of evidence suggests they do and the vaccines are key to developing herd immunity.” That article can be read here and, in case of deletion, an archived version can be read here.
As of now, vaccinated people make up a majority of deaths in the U.S..
If all of that wasn't enough, we have to wonder what purpose mandatory vaccines and passports served if it was never proven that vaccines prevented transmission. Why did Justin Trudeau require a certain level of vaccination among the population in order to open the borders? In July of 2021, Trudeau made it explicitly clear that he wanted more Canadians to be vaccinated before entering the country because they can “spread the virus to others when returning home”. Trudeau's entire plan to re-open the Canada-U.S. Border was predicated on the idea that vaccines will prevent transmissions and, therefore, 75% of Canadians should be vaccinated.
Yet, in more recent fact-checks after the revelation that transmissions were never tested or proven, we are being gaslighted by mainstream experts into thinking that no one ever told us that vaccines prevent transmission.
In her October fact-check, Jaramillo writes:

The COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials were designed to study the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in preventing symptomatic disease, not transmission. But online publications now misleadingly present the fact that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was not tested for transmission as a “shocking admission” and proof that the company and the government lied.

Right, because no one was telling us that the vaccines prevented transmission and the CEO of Pfizer himself never made the bold claim that no variant can escape protection from his company's vaccine. Joe Biden never made multiple claims and not a single, reputable pharma-funded media corporation peddled the false claim that the vaccines would prevent transmission and let us “get back to normal sooner”.
Before even getting into it, Jaramillo decides to remind us that COVID-19 has killed 300,000 Americans and that the FDA is an amazing, uncorrupted and authoritative organization that can do no wrong:

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the vaccine on Dec. 11, 2020, in what the agency called a “milestone” in the fight against the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, and “a true testament to scientific innovation and public-private collaboration worldwide.”

From the start, she brushes aside any and all doubts we might have about the whole approval process and the FDA. Just like that and without ever mentioning it, we are told to forget that Pfizer was once doled the largest criminal fine in U.S. history and that the Food And Drug Administration was ever in bed with corporations and special interests.
Question nothing and feel guilty for having any doubts. This is what most fact-checks about the vaccines ask us to do before they contort, avoid and misrepresent the facts. Almost half a million Americans died before the vaccine, didn't you know? Its approval was a testament to scientific innovation and a milestone in the fight against a global pandemic, don't forget. If you ever wrongly thought the vaccine prevented transmission, you must be one of those anti-vax weirdos that consumes misinformation from Russian agents.
Any and all questions about the vaccine come from fringe conspiracy nuts. You're not a conspiracy nut, are you?

Here is a summary of facts that have been left out by most fact-checkers:
-Several authorities and doctors are on record stating that the vaccines prevent transmission.
-In 2009, Pfizer paid the largest criminal fine in history for unlawful promotion of prescription drugs.
-Like many other regulators in other countries, the FDA has been accused, multiple times throughout its history, of having conflicts of interest and for caving to pressure from corporate lobbyists.
-The FDA is partly funded by the companies it regulates, through “user fees”.
-China has undue influence over the World Health Organization and has successfully barred Taiwan from participating.
-The pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest sponsors of the corporate news industry. Watch CNN or MSNBC for an hour and count their advertisements.

Before relying on fact-checkers, make sure to check your own facts. They aren't difficult to find.
December 2022


november 2022