America’s corporate fact-checkers are out of control.
Long gone are the days of Snopes assuring readers there isn’t a million dollars waiting in a Nigerian bank account for them. Distant are the happier times when fact-checks assured us there was no hook-handed hitchhiker killing our grandparents on the local highway.
Instead today, we see an alliance between corporate media and corporate tech titansto squelch debate, silence conservatives, and literally censor regular Americans, dissenting scientists, newspaper competitors, and even the president of the United States. No longer even content with simply nitpicking and undermining debate, the fact checks on the United States’ COVID vaccine timeline expose how outlets like NBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are willing to attack American dreams and aspirations to score political points.
“Trump’s inaccurate coronavirus vaccine timeline,” read a Washington Post headline that has since been updated to replace “inaccurate” with “accelerated.”
“Trump appears to be expediting the vaccine development process, misrepresenting how fast a vaccine will be available to the public in fighting the novel coronavirus,” the article claimed, citing leftist media’s unassailable hero, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“As the United States and the rest of the world prepare for the novel coronavirus to continue spreading,” they continued, “it’s important to share factual information about the virus and methods to combat it.”
“Fact check: Coronavirus vaccine could come this year, Trump says,” reads an NBC headline. “Experts say he needs a ‘miracle’ to be right.”
When the president said he expected companies to develop a vaccine “relatively soon,” The New York Times “fact-checkers”called it “misleading.”
Were newspapers wrong to ask questions about Operation Warp Speed, to push for transparency, and to ask experts in the field what they thought? Certainly not, but “fact-checks” are rarely journalism these days, when outlets like USA Today hire college internsto earn money from Facebook by censoring media they dislike.
More to the point, the above three articles aren’t even checks on facts — they’re checks on hopeful goals, they’re checks on our national aspirations in the face of immense challenges, they’re checks on what the corporate media and their expert friends think America is capable of achieving. They’re checks on our future.
“This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal,” one American president said in a 1961 address to a joint session of Congress: “before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
That president was John F. Kennedy, and just eight years later President Richard Nixon joined the country in watching the Apollo 11 land safely on the moon.
Was Kennedy’s challenge visionary? Was it aspirational? Was it an American dream? Yes on all three, yet you will find nary a 1961 New York Times fact-check calling his statement misleading because we might not succeed on the timeline he’d set.
Outside of even fact checks, imagine for a moment the newspaper headlines he would have generated if his speech were given today by a Republican when the left was banking an election on his failure?
“President Kennedy says moon landing will be coming by the end of the decade, despite contrary evidence,” CNBC1961 might have written.
“Moon Landing in 10 Years? Experts Urge Reality Check,” Bloomberg1961 could have reported.
“Kennedy promises moon landing by 1970, but scientists doubt it,” a 1961 Washington Postmight have chimed in.
If those just slightly altered headlines sound absurd, it’s because they are framed around how foolish the paper thinks the president is as opposed to the more realistic and honest take that our nation had embarked on a great but also very difficult mission. As actual 59-year-old headlines read, the latter was still the norm in 1961.
“Kennedy Asks For 1.8 Billion This Year To Accelerate Space Exploration, Add Foreign Aid, Bolster Defense: Moon Trip Urged,” the real New York Times headline readon May 26, 1961. “He Assures Congress Nation Is Ready To Take On Burden.”
“We stand for freedom and must be willing to pay the price that stand implies,” another Times article that day began. “… After four months of stocktaking, the President has now put forth, in low key but nonetheless effectively (sic), a detailed blueprint of the New Frontier’s policy to meet the historic challenges we face.”
“JFK Shoots For Moon: He Asks Funds For Bold, New Effort,” The Miami News echoed
“JFK: We Must Be 1st In Space & Here Too,” The New York Daily News reported.
Much has changed in politics and in media since those days, and it’s difficult to compare them on many aspects. Still, the differences here illustrate what many Americans have already come to believe about our corporate media: They hate President Donald Trump so much they were willing to undermine our country and our dreams to defeat him.
Sadly, they might have won on this front, but fortunately, they were caught. And unless Americans see real, substantive, and unlikely change, half of us will never trust them again.