Bill Clinton Thinks The Internet Needs A Taxpayer Funded Ministry Of Truth

from the politifact-not-good-enough-for-you? dept

Now, it's certainly true that the so-called "fourth estate" -- the press -- often isn't very good at fact checking. They're especially bad at fact checking politicians, and the popular "view from nowhere" often means that rather than pointing out where a politician has lied, they feel that as long as they give "the other side" equal time, they've done their job. However, do we really need a federal fact checking agency? That appears to be the opinion of former President Bill Clinton who suggested such an agency would be a good use of taxpayer money:
"Let's say the U.S. did it, it would have to be an independent federal agency that no president could countermand or anything else because people wouldn't think you were just censoring the news and giving a different falsehood out," Clinton said.

"That is, it would be like, I don't know, National Public Radio or BBC or something like that, except it would have to be really independent and they would not express opinions, and their mandate would be narrowly confined to identifying relevant factual errors" he said. "And also, they would also have to have citations so that they could be checked in case they made a mistake. Somebody needs to be doing it, and maybe it's a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money."
But why would that be a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money, when others are already trying to do that? We have operations like FactCheck.org and Politifact, both run by respected operations, and both of which have done pretty well from what I've seen. Of course, this sort of thing could also already be considered part of the GAO's mandate, as it's pretty well respected for not falling for political spin in its reports, but for digging in and getting things right. Of course, that hasn't stopped much of the government from ignoring the GAO's position on things.

Filed Under: bill clinton, fact checking, ministry of truth, taxpayers


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  1. icon
    Hulser (profile), 16 May 2011 @ 10:58am

    Info as an alternative to new laws

    While I don't think that we need a federally funded agency dedicated to fact checking the Internet, I don't see a problem with the governement publishing and promoting the distribution of useful information, part of which could be debunking misnformation. In fact, it might even be a better solution than the default behavior of politicians faced with the latest issue "threatening" the public today, which is to create some stupid new law.

    What if there was a new tool in their toolbox to allow for addressing these issues without a new law? I personally wouldn't have a problem with a government agency that proactively tried to publish the results of the research that the government already pays for. For example, would you rather have a new law that bans texting while driving or some government agency buying some web and TV ads explaining the associated dangers? And yes, any organization can be politicized, but even a biased message is better than a ban.

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