Snopes

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All sources have a bias, and all make mistakes. I don't care that Snopes was created by California couple Barbara and David Mikkelson, who decided to covert alt.folklore.urban newsgroup into a website. Despite a cabal of liberal editors, most of Snopes isn't that bad. But mostly fair, isn't completely fair -- and they have plenty of bias, un-corrected errors, and unfair interpretations. Each article deserves separate scrutiny/skepticism, with many falling far below journalistic standards. So despite their voracity supported by partisans and rubes, Snopes is far from the paragon of objectivity that some pretend. This article offers a small sampling of errors and bias.

Examples

Here are a few examples of their mistakes: 15 items

  • 2019.01.20 Covington Catholic High School - 💩The New York Times published an article “Boys in ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats Mob Native American Elder at Indigenous People’s March,” and many other outlets (CNN, WaPo, etc), piled on without verifying. OrangeMan is so bad, that just wearing his hat makes you a racist. Only, the details leaked out that it was the Catholic teens minding their own business (on a class trip) when the Native American demonstrator/activist (Nathan Phillips: not a Vietnam War Veteran as WaPo and other claimed) marched up, beat drums, push into center of student group, call teens names, and then accused the kids of surrounding him and saying racist things, all false.
  • 2018.12.06 Voted out of Congress - A viral claimed “Everyone with an X has since been voted out of Congress.”, but a few members with an X were never in Congress. Snopes still claimed that the “general idea” of the meme was “correct.”
  • 2018.04.25 Bible Ban - You can have religious liberty, or a Democrat controlled government, but as California Assembly Bill 2943 shows, rarely both. Basically, it says no church or individual can practice "conversion therapy", or "pray the gay away". While I don't think those are useful, in a country with religious liberty, you don't outlaw stupid things just because you don't agree. And Fact Checkers like Snopes/FactCheck do their jobs and report the facts, instead of doing mental gymnastics to defend Democrats from themselves.
  • 2017.04.11 Spicer: Hitler didn't use chemical weapons - Sean Spicer (WhiteHouse Press Secretary) while talking about Assad (Syria) use of chemical weapons, misspoke (said something completely true but inartfully worded) and corrected himself (clarified that "as a tool of war" and not talking about gassing civilians) and apologized all in the same news-conference. Far left outfits like CNN, CBS, MSNBC, Snopes, Politifact, all ignored the correction/clarification and used the gaff as a way to attack Spicer and Trump, and spin a non-story into evidence of why they were a bad administration. They also ignored many cases where others on the left had said the same truth. Lies of omission, and sensationalism, are evidence of propaganda/FakeNews.
  • 2017.03.05 Rasmea Odeh - The March 8th "Day Without A Woman" protest was created by Rasmea: a Palestinian anti-semite terrorist, guilty of a 1969 bombing and murder of 2 in Israel. Snopes took the far left BDS/Palestinian position of using false and debunked excuses for her behavior.
  • 2017.02.28 Sitting for Seal Widow - This is a famous case where the Democrats were remaining seated during Trump's first address to congress in 2017, in protest of his very existence. As Ben Shapiro wrote, the Democrats unfortuitously decided to keep their asses planted for the 2nd standing ovation for a Navy Seal who gave his life (and his widow), and PolitiFact, FactCheck and Snopes misrepresented their stories to not make the Democrats look as bad as their contemptuous partisan behavior had been for the whole night, or to make it look like Ben Shapiro had misrepresented things that he had not.
  • 2017.01.20 Scrubbed Climate Change and LGBT - ZOMG: Minutes in, and Trump is purging the Government (White House Website) of LGBT and Climate Change info: OrangeMan Bad! Only, this normal operating procedure to archive the old White House pages and start fresh (it happened under Clinton->Bush and Bush->Obama). No retractions, corrections or apologies given.
  • 2016.07.26 Flags at DNC - Conservative media outlets (like DC) noted that the American flag was conspicuously physically absent on the set of the Democratic National Convention on its first day. Left-of-center Politifact admitted it too. But liberal media went into full-spin mode. Snopes shifted from unbiased fact checker to DNC operative. They "debunked" straw-men: (a) they were on stage in digital form or in the audience on day-2 (no one said they weren't) (b) they showed the flags on stage Day-2 and misattributed to Day-1. Then changed the claim to "on stage at all. Rephrasing the question until the answer is correct, is not fact checking assholes.
  • 2016.07.07 Omar Mateen a Democrat - After the left tried to paint Orlando nightclub shooter (Omar Mateen) as a conservative anti-Gay person, a few places pointed out he was registered to vote as a Democrat (and was a Muslim that didn't appear to know/care it was a gay nightclub). Snopes jumped in to defend their allies on the left, and did logic-yoga to conclude that while Omar might have registered as a Democrat, he might have changed his mind between registration and hit mass-murder.
  • 2016.05.06 Birth of Birthers - Fact checkers (CNN, Politifact, Snopes, FactCheck) answered whether Hillary originated the Birther movement, and exonerated her. It was only her top strategists plan and her campaign staffers, but not her personally -- so they pretended that Trump was lying to imply she had anything to do with creating these rumors that her campaign gleefully twisted and spread. So dishonest.
  • 2016.05.02 Hillary and the Rapist - One complaint was against Hillary for laughing about getting a child rapist off when she was a defense lawyer. This was true. Even lefty-FactCheck admitted it was true. But Snopes, WaPo and Politifact parsed words, inferred intent (It was just a nervous laugh), and went beyond fact checking into water-carrier status.
  • 2015.07.21 Holistic Doctors - Erin Elizabeth of HealthNutNews complains about how snopes wronged her, with getting lots of little factoids wrong, on her conspiratorial article about 5 Holistic Doctors found dead (later the number grew to 60). Not sure who I believe in this one, but Erin definitely went full vendetta on many mistakes she found not only in misrepresenting her article, but in others. And at least a few of her complaints seem legit.
  • 2013.04.27 Good enough - While it is a little stale (2013) and things changed after a few more liberal editors and the 2016 election, Snopes does do a reasonably good enough job at debunking the easy and non-political stuff. Even if they miss on a few, or are slow to correct others. At least for the skeptical libertarian.
  • 2002.10.12 Up-the-butt Bob - There was a famous Newlywed gameshow story, where a female contestant was asked "what's the strangest place you made whoopee" and she replied, "that'd be up the butt, Bob". The problem isn't that Snopes is wrong today, they found the clip and the article has a lot of backstory. The problem is that they were famously wrong on the story for years. Once they got around to correcting it, they omitted that it was a correction, and seem to have made some effort to scrub the mistake.
  • 2001.03.01 T.R.O.L.L. - Snopes had a whole section for spreading disinformation called "The Repository of Lost Legends" or T.R.O.L.L. While it was intended to teach skepticism, by telling things that weren't true, and seeing if people would figure it out -- it was just condescending misinformation and hurt their brand of being a trustworthy source. So while they were the purveyors of FakeNews, it is more notable lore and a statement on their questionable judgment, rather than their bias/dishonesty.


Biased Editors

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Snopes’ main political fact-checker is an "openly liberal" writer named Kim Lacapria, who wrote for the FakeNews site the Inquisitr, and has a blogger history of calling Bill Clinton the greatest president ever, and being anti-Bush, anti-Tea party, and anti-Conservative. Many of her articles on Snopes are obviously biased and partisan like: spinning Jimmy Carter's Iranian ban as nothing like Trump's more moderate one. Or implied that when Hillary claimed "we didn't lose a single person (in Libya)", she had only meant in the invasion. Or Omar Mateen wasn't a democrat linked above. Or that Facebook Censorship of conservatives, admitted to by Facebook workers, wasn't real.

But Lacapria is hardly alone in her bias. There seems to be many of her political ilk.

Snopes financial issues

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While I'd far rather Snopes was doing the service they did earlier on, and not hiring biased editors to write partisan fact checks, and losing money doing it. They picked their path. And they seem to be suffering the consequences of CNN, NYT and others -- which is alienate half your uses, and you cut down on your revenues. Maybe more true when those users might were the ones with money (or willing to spend it).

I'd hope they'd get back to their purpose (unbiased fact checking, and leaving the fake news to NYT, CNN and WaPo to spin). But I've seen few media companies that could learn from the mistake of being too left, and pull out of their death spiral. Especially then their echo-chamber tells them, it's not their fault.

Conclusion

The point isn't that snopes is untrustworthy, or partisan (they kind of are, but no worse than most). I'm sure with work, I could find dozens more examples showing where they made mistakes the other way. Overall, I think they're fairly objective, most of the time, and most articles are pretty well written and pretty objective and they do a pretty good job of researching facts. There are some blatant exceptions to that, and when they behave badly, they don't always fix things in above board ways that would fit good journalistic standards.

So I use them quite a bit, and don't mind others than do so. But the many fair articles don't make the completely hacky and unfair ones any more legitimate. So skepticism is still required. They're no authority, they have made plenty of mistakes, and have plenty of examples of crap-articles -- and most of those mistakes seem to align in ways that wouldn't be surprising for California-based company, with liberal editors and left-coast contributors.

A little added scrutiny and dubiousness from those center or right of center, is more than warranted. And certainly, those linking to Snopes worst articles, and trying to use "appeal to authority" (or popularity) fallacies are no less wrong for doing so, just because most of Snopes articles aren't complete crap.

Thus as long as someone isn't trying an appeal to authority fallacy, we're fine -- and if they can see or admit the blatant bias in what they are, that's fine too. But if someone links to one of their bad articles and pretends that closes the subject on anything, they deserve the schooling that this article offers.

Worst of all is that as their standards have dropped, their responsibilities and impact have increased. Google, Facebook and others, are using them to filter junk news from the real news, or effect rankings -- and Snopes just doesn't have or deserve the chops for that kind of stuff. While I'm fine with them as a casual fact check site, I'm terrified of them as the thought-police for the Internet. And with the partisan lefties on their staff, I assume they're going to decay over time.

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