Media “fact checks” are amongst the biggest purveyors of misinformation on the internet. “Fact checks” are a fountain of misinformation because the genre primarily consists of the journalist’s opinion masquerading as fact. Additionally, Republicans always get poor grades, while Democrats invariably come through with flying colors. Readers may have seen the joke that is the national PolitiFact outlet and its inability to fact-check anything President Biden says after checking every utterance from President Trump.
Today the spotlight on “fact checks” as a journalistic fraud falls on The Cedar Rapids Gazette. The Gazette attempts to fact check the claim, “Data has long shown states with low or no income tax grow faster than states with high, punitive rates.”
A straightforward demonstration of this “fact check” bias is the description of conservative policy outlets relative to liberal policy outlets. ALEC and the Tax Foundation are referred to as “right-leaning.” A few paragraphs later, the Brookings Institute, the itinerate home for Democrat presidential appointees, receives no such qualification.
It is also fair to question the rationale and factual consistency of the piece. One paragraph states Arizona’s tax rate is 1.8%. The following paragraph says its rate isn’t much lower than Illinois’s 4.95%. If Arizona’s rate is 1.8%, as the former paragraph states, that rate is roughly 60% lower than the Illinois rate. No one outside the Gazette’s editorial board thinks those rates are not significantly different. I know tax rates can change. Arizona is cutting rates to attract population and investment…
Finally, this “fact check” stipulates states with low tax rates grow faster multiple times.
First, the Wall Street Journal piece Klimesh referenced in paragraph 2 of the “Analysis.” Then, the North American Moving Services report also supported Klimesh’s claim. The Gazette then cites the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy studies in 2017 and again in 2019, supporting his claim.
The Gazette’s own column, again and again, proves Klimesh’s point is accurate. Still, because the Gazette doesn’t like the facts, they give it a D. Is the criteria to pass a fact check absolute, uniform agreement on a policy question from every outlet in America? What a joke.
Journalists often lament the demise of local news outlets. But, perhaps the biggest problem is the one casting the gaze in the mirror. Calling this opinion piece a “fact check” only erodes the lasting remains of credibility outlets like the Gazette maintain.
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