Media Research Center President Brent Bozell, along with fellow members of the Free Speech Alliance and 10 other conservative leaders, are demanding the International Fact-Checking Network remove PolitiFact as a fact-checker for violating IFCN’s Code of Principles.
In all, more than 40 conservative leaders have signed on to the open letter led by the Free Speech Alliance and MRC’s Bozell. The open letter can be read in full below:
Director Baybars Örsek
International Fact-Checking Network
Dear Mr. Örsek:
We are writing to challenge the actions of one of the members of the International Fact-Checking Network. In its role as a “fact-checker,” PolitiFact has crossed a bright line, deliberately stifling free speech online and pursuing a blatant, anti-conservative political agenda. Those actions have ominous repercussions and clearly violate IFCN’s Code of Principles.
Most recently, PolitiFact falsely fact-checked a graphic, posted by the Media Research Center (MRC) showing the COVID-19 hospitalization rate in the United States. The graphic was a copy from the CDC, to which MRC gave clear attribution. In the post containing the graphic, MRC also linked to a blog, which included more information regarding the current threat of COVID-19 in the United States. The blog we linked to provided full context for the information provided in the graphic. PolitiFact flagged the graphic as “partly-false,” and put a “FALSE” stamp over the graphic. Then in its own piece, it said context was missing. Those are three different — and incorrect — allegations all in one piece. This is an egregious, unmerited and overtly biased action against a viewpoint the liberal PolitiFact disagrees with.
But what makes this so dangerous is that this reflects a consistent pattern of politicized censorship.
PolitiFact is approved by the IFCN to act as a “fact-checker.” Operationally, that means PolitiFact has enormous influence on the content that users and organizations are allowed to post on Facebook. PolitiFact is, at its core, a partisan operation. It is deliberately attempting to manipulate the online public conversation by quashing conservative viewpoints on social media.
We the undersigned therefore demand the IFCN immediately remove PolitiFact from its list of approved fact-checkers. We further demand Facebook immediately remove PolitiFact from its list of approved Third-Party Fact-Checkers. We demand this regardless of the actions of the IFCN.
Given PolitiFact’s history of abusing its power as a fact-checker, this is long overdue. Consider PolitiFact’s recent instances of unjustly censoring conservatives:
- In July of 2021, PolitiFact tagged as FALSE that: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris “distrusted COVID-19 vaccines” in 2020. PolitiFact’s aggressive defense of Biden and Harris was exposed recently when PolitiFact tagged as “False” a Tik-Tok video that “Says Joe Biden and Kamala Harris distrusted COVID-19 vaccines.” In fact, both President Biden and Vice President Harris did voice their distrust of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- PolitiFact has failed to create a page for Jen Psaki, Joe Biden’s press secretary. It blatantly refuses to fact-check her, even when she outrageously suggested that her political opponents favored defunding the police.
- PolitiFact dealt a “Pants on Fire” determination for Tucker Carlson for a guest interview in September stating that COVID-19 came from a Wuhan lab and was released with malicious intent. It retracted this designation in May 2021, long after the election.
- PolitiFact gave former Georgia Senator David Perdue a “Pants on Fire” rating for characterizing Jon Ossoff as a “socialist,” but failed to give a “Pants on Fire” to President Biden for labeling voting integrity laws “Jim Crow.”
- PolitiFact gave Josh Holmes, the former chief of staff for Sen. Mitch McConnell, a “Mostly False” label when he correctly stated that ‘A Georgia law has not ‘criminalized giving people bottles of water.’ It pertains to political organizations.”
- In March, PolitiFact stated that former Vice President Mike Pence was “False” concerning two statements on election integrity, but at that point had not evaluated current Vice President Kamala Harris’s statements since September.
And all of these examples are but the tip of the iceberg. PolitiFact is, and has long been, a bad actor intent on aggressively quashing the free speech of conservatives online. The MRC has written critically about PolitiFact more than 50 times since 2019.
By any standard, it is not an unbiased legitimate fact-checker. Especially, according to IFCN’s “Code of Principles.” Those five principles fact-checkers must adhere to include:
- A commitment to nonpartisanship and fairness
- A commitment to transparency of sources
- A commitment to transparency of funding & organization
- A commitment to transparency of methodology
- A commitment to open & honest corrections
At the very least, PolitiFact has violated Principles one and five.
PolitiFact’s crusade against conservatives is especially troubling given the ubiquitous censorship of conservatives on social media. The backdrop of this controversy is a huge push by the federal government to censor online content. The White House disturbingly announced that it was colluding with social media companies to censor so-called “disinformation” regarding COVID-19. This coordination has overwhelmingly harmed conservatives who are naturally more skeptical of Big Government mandates.
This Orwellian behavior on the part of the federal government is, in its own right, potentially fatal to the health of a free society and fascistic. But together with the behavior of organizations like PolitiFact and the censorship of conservatives by Big Tech, the current situation poses an existential threat to our free and open society.
If dissenting viewpoints are dropped down the memory hole, if only those voices that are acceptable to the state and Big Tech are allowed, our civil and political society are in jeopardy.
Organizations such as PolitiFact have an obligation to be neutral arbiters of content. They must be held accountable when they abandon your principles. By your own rules, PolitiFact is no longer qualified to serve as a fact-checker..
We look forward to your response.
L. Brent Bozell III
Founder and President
Media Research Center
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
60 Plus Association
Guillermo J. Aragon
Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer
The Radiance Foundation
Brian S. Brown
International Organization for the Family
Campaign for the American Future
Sen. Jim DeMint
Conservative Partnership Institute
Center for Military Readiness
The Catholic League
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
WND.com, WND Books, WND Films
Lady Brigitte Gabriel
Founder & Chairman
ACT For America
Eagle Forum of Alabama
Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation
Kay Coles James
Vice President and Managing Editor
Long Business Advisors, LLC
Christina Murphy Lusk
The Martin Foundation
Americans for Limited Government
James L. Martin
60 Plus Association
Rod D. Martin
Founder and CEO
The Martin Organization, Inc.
Jenny Beth Martin
Tea Party Patriots Action
Club for Growth
Raven Strategies LLC
Louisiana Family Forum
Congressman Pete Sessions
17th District of Texas
American Principles Project
Director of Policy and Government Affairs
American Principles Project
President and CEO
First Liberty Institute
Reagan biographer and presidential historian
Founder and Chairman
Gov. Scott Walker
Young America’s Foundation
CoFounder and Editor in Chief