An independent review by an AllSides staffer in April 2020 found that FactCheck.org seems to have a disproportionate number of fact check articles focusing on President Trump and other top Republicans, indicating what may be a slight Lean Left bias. FactCheck.org's About page states that it monitors "the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players." The focus on the Trump administration could be due to the fact that FactCheck.org editors consider them to be most major political players at the moment; or it could be an indication of a slight Left bias. The site did include some fact check content on Joe Biden and other Democrats, but fact check claims focusing on Trump seem to dominate the site during 6 months of content that was reviewed.
Some FactCheck.org headlines during the first week of April 2020 included:
- Biden’s False Claim on Trump’s Response to Coronavirus
- Trump Falsely Claims He Inherited ‘Empty’ Stockpile
- Video: Trump’s Misleading Attacks on Cuomo
- Trump, Biden Spin China Travel Restrictions
At least one FactCheck.org headline AllSides found was actually a matter of opinion: "Pence Moved Slowly in Combating HIV Outbreak". In this piece, FactCheck.org notes that "an unusually high number of HIV cases in Scott County, Indiana, was first spotted by health authorities in November 2014. Pence did not declare a public health emergency and authorize a needle exchange program for the county until March 26, 2015." Whether or not this 4-month time period constitutes moving quickly or slowly is a subjective matter and would depend on an individual's perspective and bias, making the headline biased.
Accusations of FactCheck.org Left Bias
Some, including nonprofit Capital Research Center, have accused FactCheck.org of being biased to the left.
"[FactCheck.org's] parent organization, the Annenberg Public Policy Center, was established by Walter H. Annenberg, the former publisher of TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer, President Richard Nixon’s ambassador to Great Britain, and a Republican. But over time the organization moved to the left," Capital Research Center writes in an article about "Dishonest Fact Checkers."
Capital Research Center writes that Annenberg Public Policy Center’s director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, recruited Brooks Jackson to found FactCheck.org. Jamieson "has also served on the board of the Center for Public Integrity, a left-leaning investigative journalism nonprofit that receives funding from left-wing hedge fund manager George Soros."
Capital Research Center says that FactCheck.org has "not been brazenly partisan, despite being very much a creature of the mainstream media. It has taken Democrats to task on a number of fronts," but that both FactCheck.org and Politifact go "far beyond what they say they do, claiming to fact-check subjective things like political rhetoric that are not susceptible to fact-checking."
FactCheck.org bills itself as a "nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics."
According to its About page:
"We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.
FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels."