CNN host Brian Stelter asked a big question on his Sunday show. “What’s the future of fact-checking now that Trump is out of office?” He proclaimed it was “fraught with complexity, and allegations of bias and shouts of false equivalence.”
This is not complex. In 2016, a Rasmussen poll found that only 29 percent of the public trusted the media’s “fact-checking” of presidential candidates. There’s not just “allegations” of bias but easy and daily confirmation of bias.
Stelter tried to insist — on behalf of his network — that the fact-checking focus is now on President Joe Biden. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale explained, “(I)t’s basically more like a smattering of falsehood than the daily avalanche we got from Trump, but he’s not perfect.” Dale has tried to demonstrate that he’s checking Biden, issuing an online report on 40 of Biden’s statements from his first month in office.
But there’s a catch. Dale’s becoming less visible. Mediaite noted on Feb. 20 that this CNN fact-checker was featured on air or mentioned by name on average more than once every other day since June 2019. But exposure dipped noticeably after the election, and “since President Joe Biden’s inauguration … Dale has only appeared on the network once. And that appearance, last Friday, was to fact-check Donald Trump’s lawyers.” Dale showed up with Stelter just three days after the Mediaite piece was published.
Stelter also interviewed PolitiFact editor-in-chief Angie Drobnic Holan. Is PolitiFact obsessed with fact-checking Biden? No.
In the first four weeks after Biden took the oath, PolitiFact issued two Biden fact-checks — two! Last week, it fact-checked three of Biden’s statements from the CNN town hall, since that was apparently a little too prominent to ignore. It added one more on Feb. 22. That’s six fact-checks of the president so far.
Let’s compare that to fact-checks defending Biden. In the same time frame, PolitiFact issued 19 fact-checks of Biden’s critics, and all but one of them were proclaimed “Mostly False,” “False” or “Pants on Fire.” (There was one “Half True”). There’s apparently no such thing as a “True” Biden critique.