Capitulating to Conservatives Is What Got Us Here

Bill Adair, the progenitor of PolitiFact, has written a piece for the Columbia Journalism Review in which he details why he believes it's "time to move beyond" the site's iconic Truth-O-Meter.

And his reasoning is profoundly disturbing.
I have come to realize that in our polarized environment, the meter I invented is not reaching everyone, and not reaching conservatives in particular.

Studies show a sharp partisan divide over our unique form of journalism. A 2016 study by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler found Republicans have less favorable views of fact-checking than Democrats. A 2017 Duke Reporters' Lab study that I co-authored with Rebecca Iannucci found a similar split: Liberal publications were likely to cite fact-checking favorably and use positive descriptions like "nonpartisan" and "watchdogs" while conservative outlets tended to be critical and use terms such as "left-leaning" and "biased." We found conservatives often put the phrase in snarky quotes — "fact-checking" — to suggest it is not legitimate.

...I suspect conservative readers' concern about ratings is magnified by their long-held suspicion of the news media. The political fact-checking movement was born in the 1990s and picked up steam over the past decade when conservatives became increasingly distrustful of the mainstream media, a group they often reduced to an abbreviated snarl, "the MSM." In the eyes of many conservatives, fact-checkers are no longer just lefties providing the news, they're now self-proclaimed authorities deciding who is lying.

Needless to say, fact-checkers can't afford to alienate conservatives — our nation can't have a healthy political discourse if the two sides can't agree on facts.
But the problem isn't that fact-checkers are alienating conservatives. The problem is that conservatives have learned, precisely because of shit like this, that by rejecting facts, truth, and reality — and then accuse anyone who respects them of bias — they can bully the press and politicians into abandoning the expectation that we all agree on what is demonstrably factual, as well as the calculation that anyone who refuses is alienating themselves.

Conservatives never have to own any of the responsibility for rejecting facts and being fucking assholes to everyone else using mendacious justifications rooted in hatred and fear, not in reality.

I'm so tired of the entire world have to shift to accommodate a movement of spoiled, entitled, hateful, destructive brats.

And the fact that we are all in a worse place because of that relentless shifting is manifestly evident. I cannot begin to imagine why anyone would argue that it is worth doing even more of at this point. For fuck's sake.

[H/T to Eastsidekate.]

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