The Associated Press (AP) Fact Check wire service began partnering with Facebook as a fact-checker in 2016. As a massive news organization, it sometimes publishes multiple fact-checks every day giving it wide latitude for bias. Those AP fact-checks are frequently biased against former President Donald Trump or provide cover for liberal politicians and policies.
For example, the AP tweeted an anti-Trump fact-check in May 2019, writing: “The reality behind President Trump's false accusation that abortion doctors execute babies.” The article then cited two pro-abortion medical professionals to attack Trump’s accurate characterization of the job of abortionists and Democratic goals regarding abortion as “maliciously false.” Newsbusters rated AP’s fact check as “Deeply Distorted.”
Social psychologist Jose Duarte researched AP Fact Check in 2018, and found that between Nov. 1, 2017, and Jan. 18, 2019, “94 percent of the time AP targets a conservative or Republican claim (almost always Trump)” in its standalone articles. Furthermore, he noted that “AP always argues against” the conservative claim and its fact-checks often turn into “hostile” op-eds instead of fact-checks.
AP Fact Check has also been caught fact-checking predictions, contradicting its own reporting, nitpicking tweets, and leaving out sources despite the transparency requirements for members of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network (IFCN).
- Forecasts, predictions and prognostications aren’t facts and therefore shouldn’t be eligible for fact-checking. Yet, AP insisted on it when former President Trump predicted shutting down the economy to contain the coronavirus could lead to more suicides. AP claimed his prediction was “baseless” despite past examples of economic hardship increasing suicides. NewsBusters rating of AP’s fact check: “Fully Fake.”
- Despite 2019 rumors that AP would end its Facebook partnership, it expanded and launched fact-checking efforts in Spanish. “As part of their work to review potentially false content on Facebook, AP will be doubling down in two new areas this year: Spanish-language content and video-based misinformation,” Meredith Carden, head of news integrity partnerships at Facebook, said in a press release.
- After an AP Fact Check went viral for assigning blame for the government shutdown in early 2019, The Week exposed problems with fact-checking at large. "My sense," political science professor Morgan Marietta told The Week, "is that the current real-time fact-checking framework is flawed at a deep epistemological level, with no known fix."
- In December 2018, AP fact-checkers accused Trump of “recycling familiar fictions” about the Iran deal, after Trump tweeted a fact proven on camera by an AP reporter two years earlier.
The AP was fact-checking long before partnering with Facebook and other tech companies. In fact, conservative journalist Mark Hemingway called out AP in a 2012 interview with NPR. Speaking of comparisons people were making about presidential handling of disasters, Hemingway said, “But it's not necessarily the news organization's job to come in and say, oh, well, you know, if people are talking about this, they shouldn't talk about it … .”