“Fact-checkers” can be just as biased as opinion writers. Their coverage of former President Donald Trump’s indictment was no exception, and spread misinformation about the connection between his prosecutor and billionaire donor George Soros.
Specifically, the question of whether Soros “funded” Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who prosecuted Trump, is a subject of debate.
The Soros-Bragg Connection
That donation came less than a week after Color of Change PAC endorsed Bragg and committed to spend “over one million dollars” to help Bragg’s campaign in the Manhattan’s DA race.
Soros’s donation was the largest individual donation to Color of Change in 2021. The next largest was $50,000.
Soros said in March that he didn’t fund Bragg and doesn’t know him.
A Soros spokesperson said there was no connection between Soros’s donation and Color of Change’s commitment to Bragg, and that “As one of the largest Black-led political action committees in the country, Color of Change PAC has many funders who invest in our broad strategy to root out injustice in our criminal legal system. Independent of these funders, Color of Change PAC runs a review and interview process to endorse reform-minded district attorneys each election cycle.”
There is no evidence that Soros gave money directly to Bragg’s campaign. He did make a donation to a PAC that had donated to Bragg shortly beforehand, and in a very similar amount.
Media on Both Sides Distorts the Facts
Rather than concentrate on the obvious facts in this specific case, and answer a question for readers — that Soros didn’t fund Bragg directly, but rather funded a PAC that donated to Bragg — biased “fact-checkers” spun the story around other partisan narratives.
Washington Post Fact Check (Lean Left bias) called the claim that Soros funded Bragg “incendiary,” and said the “repeated mention of Soros plays into antisemitic conspiracy theories that Soros, a Hungarian American Holocaust survivor, is a wealthy puppet-master who works behind the scenes to manipulate elections and further his goals.”
The article contains a section titled “The Facts,” which begins by saying Soros is “a boogeyman for conservatives.”
Free Beacon Fact Check (Right bias) framed the Soros-Bragg connection as more definite and also highlighted Soros’s comments calling Trump’s indictment “serious,” suggesting that as evidence he supports Bragg and his work to prosecute Trump.
“Regardless of whatever pressure Soros did or did not place on Bragg’s investigation,” the article states, “both he and Color of Change are happy with” Trump’s indictment.
Get the Full Picture
Fact-checkers on both sides selectively used context to support different narratives on Soros’s involvement with Bragg. Whether for political reasons or because journalists are in their own filter bubbles, the result was the same: readers were set up to be misinformed and robbed of the full picture.
As for the facts of the case, no one can definitively state that the Color of Change PAC’s commitment to spend “over one million dollars” in support of Bragg, and Soros’s subsequent contribution of $1 million to the PAC within a span of one week were not connected. Doing so would constitute misinformation.
The Soros contribution could be an example of “dark money,” where the source of funds is intentionally hidden by donating to a third party that financially supports many different entities, as described by Open Secrets and Brennan Center for Justice.
The timing and amounts may suggest a hidden connection, but also note that big donors from both parties and sides do this, and that without a direct connection or commitment, there is nothing illegal about doing this.
Fact-checkers from both sides went beyond the facts of the case, asserting their own opinions, analysis and judgments that were not directly relevant to whether the allegations or fact check were true or not.
Although many hope for straightforward findings of true or false, this is an excellent example of how bias frames and drives those kinds of conclusions. This is one of the reasons why AllSides continually promotes looking at the full picture, with context and diverse perspectives, to get a better understanding of what is really happening, of reality.
Henry A. Brechter is the Editor in Chief of AllSides. He has a Center bias.
This piece was reviewed by Daily News Editor Joseph Ratliff (Lean Left bias) and CEO John Gable (Lean Right bias).