From Invasion of the Fact-Checkers by Jacob Siegel at Tablet:
By putting an official stamp on obvious manipulations of language, the fact-checkers license false and misleading coverage by outlets that playact the quaint 20th-century practice of objective news reporting—calling balls and strikes—while also batting for Team Democrat. The convergence of fact-checking and Democratic Party priorities is not a matter of speculation. The Democratic National Committee calls for establishing a “political misinformation policy” and repeatedly cites the International Fact-Checking Network’s partnerships with tech companies as a model for the party’s national censorship policy.
Another driving force behind the growth of the fact-checking complex is the necessity of enforcing loyalty to progressive ideas that can’t survive on their own. Stripped of their specialized language and social and bureaucratic context, key articles of Progressive Church faith are repulsive to most ordinary voters, regardless of gender or race. That is true of the racialized approach to education that was just roundly rejected by San Francisco parents in recent school board elections. It is also true of calls to defund the police, to teach transgender ideology to kindergarteners, and of approaches to addiction that appear to promote continued drug use. Policies that Biden administration officials would have boasted about in front of an audience of academics and public health administrators sound different—meaning, crazy—to people who have not been socialized to accept professional class bullshit. That’s where the fact-checkers come in with their tin badges and unearned air of authority. They can declare that a story is not merely mistaken or overwrought but dangerously defective—because we, the fact-checkers, paid by the tech giants and NGOs that are in turn funded by a seemingly endless tide of dark money from billionaires who want to be woke, or at least buy a woke insurance policy, said so.
Politics aside, fact-checkers fill a gap in the American system of government, which increasingly and for at least several decades now has looked nothing like the system described in high school civics classrooms and textbooks. Because the U.S. state now routinely exercises its power through administrative decrees, rather than through laws passed by the elected representatives of the people, it must rely on subcontracted nonofficials to enforce compliance with its dictates. This method of governance relieves policy makers of any obligation to build broad majorities that support their ideas. Maybe it really is a good idea to distribute crack pipes to addicts because it will save lives, as advocates claim. But if they believed they had the truth on their side, we might expect to see the people who champion these policies arguing for their merits and convincing a coalition of voters to support them. Instead, we see the opposite: the naked use of power and coercion to stifle arguments by people who believe they have a mandate of heaven, and the truth is whatever they say it is.
The fact-checkers have proved to be crucial compliance officers for the state, filtering out troublesome information before it reaches the public, torturing “the facts” until they conform to officially sanctioned narratives, and smearing dissenters as dangers to the public or stooges of Vladimir Putin. That’s the information ecology we are living in, and as a reporter I can tell you it stinks.