Fact Checking is for Suckers

We continue our seemingly never ending series on gullible politics.

Fact Checking is for Suckers
I don't know, man, I think this photo is real.

Let's play the Facebook game again. And then I promise to give it up for, well, next Lent. I have a friend, a former journalist, and a good one, who is now retired from the profession. This person worked for me many moons ago, and though this reporter was a bit more conservative, and I a bit more liberal, we got along very well. Frankly, that's how it should be in any profession, but especially in journalism. And, incidentally, we have remained friends to this day.

This retired reporter has moved more and more right, and to be fair, I have headed a bit more leftward, though I was always an old hippie at heart. This reporter posted what I'm sure was considered a shocking photo on Facebook, to the great approval of fellow MAGAns.

May be an image of 2 people

Yeah, it's Kamala all buddy, buddy with the old perv himself, who did/didn't (you choose) off himself in jail. Pretty shocking, eh? And the MAGAtinous comments started rolling in. There is one problem here.

It's fake.

I pointed this out to my friend with the story from FactCheck.org.

Posts Use Transposed Mugshot of Epstein to Target Kamala Harris - FactCheck.org
A federal judge has ordered the release of documents that will identify scores of accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s associates. The order has led many social media users to share a digitally manipulated image that purports to show Vice President Kamala Harris posing with Epstein. The original photo showed Harris with her husband, Douglas Emhoff.

The response was interesting, and in line with my column a couple of weeks back about people refusing to accept facts.

"Roger Gray Get one or two conservative sources and I’ll take it down. factcheck.org ain’t it. The conservatives have been so gaslighted by the liberal media that I wouldn’t believe them if they said it’s hot in Texas in the summertime."

Actually, one Google search of "Epstein Kamala" produces a long list of fact checking sites that pointed out the photoshop fakery involved. This is a google search this person could, and should have done first. The old, shopworn mantra of journalism expressed by my first News Director 54 years ago at KTRH was "If your mama says she loves you, get a second source."

And we've all made the mistake, hopefully as rookies. When some public official, with political motives, gives you some dirt on someone that is the scoop of all scoops, it's hard not to rush to press or on air with it. As you mature, and frankly get more cynical, you learn to check and check again. I plead guilty to having been there and learned to regret it.

This person was, as I mentioned, a damned good reporter and knows better than to go with some half-baked charge in a news story. But it seems that once you've stepped through the looking glass, all prior training and experience goes out the window. You just follow the White Rabbit to the Mad Developer's tea party.

Honestly, just an excuse to look at Grace Slick again.

And the irony is, the FactCheck.Org site is run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center funded by the late Walter Annenberg, who was a millionaire publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and TV Guide. He was one of the biggest philanthropists of his generation and generally leaned Republican. He was Nixon's Ambassador to the UK, and was a great pal of the Reagans. He introduced Ronald Reagan to Margaret Thatcher, for crying out loud. He should be considered a MAGAntastic source.

I tried to answer the challenge.

"I love you (buddy), but this is silly. Reuters, Newsweek, USA Today, AFP, Politifact all concur. What is a conservative fact-check site? I'll check it. The Annenberg Center that runs Factcheck is named for Walter Annenberg, a millionaire investor named by Richard Nixon as Ambassador to the UK. But, whatever."

Yeah, not real proud of the Seinfeldian ending there, but when you hit a brick wall, well, you hit a brick wall. And I did look for some kind of conservative fact-check site among the several that are out there. I found none that labeled themselves either left or right. That's why the word "fact" is in almost all of their names.

This is the new angle in the denial game. When someone checks your statements, deny the validity of the source. And in today's world where even fast food is political, it's easy to say all of them hate you. In a country that voted in Ike, Nixon, Reagan and both Bushes, not to mention Putin's cabana boy, it's hard to say the world is stacked against the GOP, but that is what is selling in the political marketplace today.

And I know I've trod this ground before, but I neglected to point out that if you deny the truthfulness of the truth checker, then you're left with whatever version of the truth you prefer. And my friend prefers Kamala schmoozing with Jeffrey Epstein. I guess I could have posted this for her...

To be fair though, this party with way too much bad dancing and what Billy Crystal called "white man's overbite," happened years before we knew what old Jeff was really up to. But, again to be fair, Democrats he hung with probably were in the same boat. But come on, who wants to be fair these days?

And for my reporter friend, it has happened to Trump as well, and has been busted by fact-checkers...

AI-Generated Images of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein Viral Amid Unsealing of Court Documents

No doubt, my more liberal friends would love to believe Trump flew to the old reprobate's teeny bopper island, but there's no evidence he did. If one of those friends posts one of these, I'll call them on it, too.

Look, I've made my feelings about the former guy's character and fitness for any office clear. I've also talked about my doubts about the wisdom of Joe Biden taking another feeble swing at the job. Age catches up to us all. But you don't need to lie to make your point. In the classic John Ford film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a reporter says “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” That's where we are today.

Now, we throw caution, and evidence, to the wind and post rubbish like this and even start congressional hearings based on corruption rumors that are easily proven false. Yeah, but they are just so damned juicy, we can't resist, right?

Yeah, well, you trim this stuff in the middle of July.

Well, please resist. For my sake if no other. I was going to write about the overabundance of landscaping on the couple of acres for this old house we bought, and how my sweaty Texas Saturdays are spent weeding and clearing it. But, no, you people couldn't let me reveal my bucolic side, could you?

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.