Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Checking Factcheck.org Facts

USANow previously covered factcheck.org, and their slight bias towards the left which came to light during the last presidential campaign. In my efforts to understand the timeline around Hurricane Katrina rescue efforts, I turned to factcheck.org. Although the Factcheck's timeline is the most comprehensive I've seen, the text reveals their bias against Bush and his administration.

Take a quick look at their timeline. Notice three key points:

  • Factcheck seems obsessed with counting George Bush's words when he speaks, comparing the number of words dedicated to discussing Iraq vs. the number of words used to discuss Katrina. This comparison may have some relevance, but factcheck provided a wordcount comparison of a Bush speech made the day before Katrina made landfall. Do these "analysts" really think Bush should spend more time talking about an offshore storm than the new Iraqi constitution?
  • At approximately 11:00 a.m. on Monday, August 29th, Mike Brown referred to the storm as a "near catastrophic event". Factcheck underlined the word "near", as if to imply that Brown was clueless about the storm's magnitude. Of course, they are ignoring their own reporting which showed that the New Orleans levees failed about the same time Brown made that statement. Everyone who followed the storm would agree that as of Monday a.m., the sentiment was that our nation had dodged a bullet, and the worse case scenario had not transpired. Factcheck uses the benefit of hindsight to imply Brown was out of touch.
  • During Brown's 11:00 a.m. remarks, he also stated that he hoped to "convey a positive image of disaster operations to government officials". Clearly, Brown wanted to help instill a sense of confidence in his organization, which is the hope of any leader. His comments do not imply an emphasis of image over action. Rather, he wants FEMA to be an active and visible part of the relief operations. Factcheck chose to underline the word "image", hoping to give the false impression that Brown preferred image over action.

    Granted, these may seem like minor details within an excellent summary. But my understanding is that factcheck should be providing facts, not opinions. By counting the words of the president, and emphasizing certain words of Mike Brown, Factcheck is hoping to spread the opinion that Bush and Brown were not overly concerned in providing disaster relief to the victims of Katrina.
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