Each week, AllSides will deliver a brief summary of notable fact checks and adjacent coverage across the media spectrum.
From the Left
"Did Putin Ban 5G in Russia Due to Health Concerns?"
A fact check from Snopes this week highlighted a claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin banned 5G cellular service within Russia due to health concerns.
The claim originally came from an article on Bangladeshi news website dainikbidyaloy.com, which AllSides does not rate and Snopes says “is not, in fact, a credible source of information” and “belongs to a network of junk news websites tied to the prolific and self-described ‘satire’ sites.”
The article claimed Putin’s actions were taken due to the deaths of schoolchildren near St. Petersburg, and that when a prominent telecommunications executive in Russia expressed dissent, he was immediately shot to death at Putin’s command.
Snopes highlighted a widely circulated tweet from a former British parliamentary candidate of the Brexit Party who shared the satirical article as factual news.
Snopes added context, referencing a speech from Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin in which he stated the Kremlin’s current ambitions to speed up the transition to 5G service. Mishustin says it will help Russia achieve “technological sovereignty” in light of the withdrawal of many Western service providers from 2022.
Snopes said the claim “originated as satire.”
From the Center
"Did Joe Biden Indict Donald Trump Over Jan. 6? What to Know"
An article from Newsweek Fact Check highlighted Republican claims that President Biden played a role in the indictment of Former President Donald Trump.
The article notes the charges stem from an investigation led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, and says “there are several layers of independence baked into Special Counsel Smith's investigation and the process surrounding the indictment that ensures its autonomy from the president.” For instance, a UCLA law professor told Newsweek that Smith was “protected by regulation from daily supervision by the attorney general, and thus by the White House,” adding, “He is not removable at will by or accountable to the president.”
Newsweek also discussed Biden’s influence over the “wider” Department of Justice, as well as his selection of Attorney General Merrick Garland. It includes a previously reported perspective from former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton explaining the attorney general position as subordinate to the president, but “operat(ing) with a greater degree of independence” by “long-standing tradition.” Charlton added, “But a president may not direct specific cases, investigations or prosecutions.”
From the Right
"How fact-checkers first reported on Biden's family business"
Last week, Hunter Biden’s former business partner Devon Archer reportedly told Congress that then-Vice President Biden spoke on the phone with businessmen across the globe at least 20 times.
An opinion from Washington Examiner criticizes “fact checkers,” particularly Washington Post (Lean Left bias), for their 2019 attempts to debunk claims about President Biden’s purported ties to foreign business.
The Examiner writer critiques a September 2019 fact check from the Post that defended the Biden family from “Trump’s false claims” of such ties. He also focuses on how the Post article declares other claims false, like, “Biden pushed out a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son” and “Hunter Biden made a killing on a China deal”.
The Examiner writer says the White House has changed its story on the president’s business involvement with his son Hunter. It says the Post “embarrassingly claimed it was ‘false’ that the president misled people by saying he “never” talked business with his son.”
However, the writer’s statement appears to need additional context; while the Post’s mid-article header says it’s “false” that “Biden lied about talking to his son,” the full argument focuses on Trump’s claim that Biden lied about never discussing business with his son because “he’s already said he spoke to his son.”
The Post argues, however, that Joe Biden himself never said he spoke to Hunter — only Hunter did. The argument relies on the assumption that Trump was referring to a brief interaction described by Hunter in The New Yorker (Left bias), which the Post says was really “not much of a discussion.”
The Biden Administration currently claims the President has never “been in business” with Hunter.
More Fact Check News
On August 1, the nonprofit Poynter Institute (Center bias), which owns and operates the fact-checker PolitiFact (Lean Left bias), opened applications for its Global Fact Check Fund. The fund will provide funding to fact-checking media worldwide via a $13.2 million grant from Google (Google News is rated Lean Left) and YouTube.
Poynter said the fund’s mission is “to strengthen and develop the operational, production and engagement capacities of local and regional media organizations to increase the quality, volume, frequency and expansion of fact-checking abilities and activities,” and that it hopes to provide funding to “135 organizations in 65 countries across 80 languages.”
Why We’re Watching the Fact Checkers
Whether the product of a carefully coordinated propaganda campaign or an innocent mistake by a journalist or social media user, misinformation is inevitable. Because of this, many “fact checkers” have popped up as their own entities, like Snopes, or as part of an existing outlet, like National Review (Right bias).
These fact checkers aim to get to the bottom of claims that may or may not be true. But sometimes, they themselves become part of the problem, such as by only fact checking one side, drawing subjective conclusions about what the facts mean, or showing bias by downplaying or playing up certain facts.
At AllSides, we’ve highlighted the types of bias fact checkers are most prone to, and developed a Fact Check Bias Chart™ so readers can easily identify bias and similarities in fact checking coverage.
Andy Gorel is a News Curator at AllSides. He has a Center bias.
This piece was reviewed by Henry A. Brechter, Editor-in-chief (Center bias), Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right bias), and Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Editor (Lean Left bias).