Self-appointed “fact checkers” seem to be all the rage these days, judging from my Facebook feed. Indeed, one would think that last week, Tampa was raided by members of that mythical “Always Lies” tribe from logic puzzles. Now I’ve talked about this phenomenon before, but as Matt Welch notes at Reason, this week’s DNC (Slogan: “You’re better off than you were four years ago — and also, it’s Bush’s fault!”) should offer an interesting study in press behavior:
As the Republican National Convention gives way to the Democrats this week, the political press is still aglow with its newfound #presspushback role. Which allows the rest of us a rare opportunity to judge the media by its own new, vigorous standard of calling out political lies in real time. How will they fact-check a president and party who are already in power?
A preliminary answer: By worrying out loud that Americans aren’t ready to accept the “facts” of President Obama’s success, from the stimulus to Obamacare.
And Walsh further notes:
It’s a delicate proposition, warning voters that they might be too stupid and/or venal to understand a politician’s brilliance. We don’t know yet how that strategy will pay off in the voting booth, but if the president and his party get the kid-gloves treatment from the media this week after the RNC festival of overheated fact-checking, then the institution of political journalism may creep into still more unchartered [sic] territory: taking sides in the very polarization it usually claims to abhor.
It’s worth a read.