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. identicon
    Michael Lockyear, 16 May 2011 @ 11:30am

    It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is

    Tax-payer funded agencies / departments always end up being controlled by the politicians! This would be no different. And herein "lies" the problem.

    Bill Clinton demonstrated with his "not sex", oral sex, sex scandal that truth, for politicians, is a matter of definition. (It was Bill Clinton after all who famously said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is").

    A more scary example:
    During the Bush regime, the definition of torture was adjusted so that that it required “serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death,” ... punching someone in the stomach or asphyxiating them with a wet sack was okay provided that the victim didn't die or suffer permanent damage.

    In others words, torture was not torture because the US government said so... how would a US government fact checking agency deal with such "facts"? How would a US government fact checking agency deal with conveniently classified facts?

    If the US wants a fact-checking agency they should just send a donation to Wikileaks and the people of the world can decided for themselves.

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