USA Today’s Fact Check is one of Facebook’s newer fact-checking partners. It joined in March 2020. But it has already earned major conservative criticism over fact checks about immigration and racism.
Breitbart blasted USA Today Fact Check in June 2020 for labeling one of its Instagram posts “partly false.” At issue was use of the word “amnesty” while reporting on the proposed HEROES Act. The same month, an intern with the fact-checker wrote “Fact check: House bill does not grant amnesty to immigrants illegally in U.S.” The intern insisted the word amnesty could only refer to a permanent pardon.
Breitbart disputed this and argued that media far and wide have used the word in immigration reporting and commentary for years to mean either temporary or permanent relief for illegal immigrants. “This is not fact-checking,” Breitbart News’ editor-in-chief Alex Marlow said. “This is policing language to make life difficult for political adversaries. It is literally Orwellian.”
The Media Research Center exposed other biased fact-checking by the USA Today Fact Check team. NewsBusters noted, USA Today Fact Check rated the claim that “The Democratic Party started the Civil War to preserve slavery and later the KKK” as “false.” The fact-check headline shielded Democrats from their racist past, even as the article admitted the Confederacy and the KKK were run by Democrats.
The NewsBusters post debunking the fact-check was also labeled “false information” and limited by Facebook, until USA Today removed the false rating against NewsBusters. This demonstrated the tremendous power of fact-checkers to suppress information and their lack of accountability.
- Conservative commentator Candace Owens filed suit against Facebook fact-checkers Lead Stories and USA Today Fact Check in November 2020. Owens said when she announced the lawsuit, “I am doing this for all of us. Once we establish precedent, when Facebook comes and they fact-check you, you will have something to come behind. This cannot be allowed in this country.”
- NewsBusters caught USA Today Fact Check downplaying historic racism of Democrats in June and July 2020. In one case, it protected the left by denying Democrats started the Civil War and founded the KKK. In the other, it criticized memes about the longest filibuster in history (when Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act filibustered).
- Breitbart complained that a USA Today intern falsely fact-checked its use of the term “amnesty.” USA Today also denied Breitbart’s appeal even though Breitbart supplied proof that media including NPR, The New York Times, HuffPost and The Atlantic all used the word the same way it had.
- USA Today joined Facebook’s fact-checking program on March 12, 2020. Just like all other program members, it was certified by the liberal International Fact-Checking Network run by the liberal Poynter Institute. “As a media organization with unparalleled local-to-national reach, we take our commitment to providing people with truthful information very seriously, and fact-checking is integral to the journalism being done by USA TODAY and in Gannett newsrooms across the country,” said publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth. She called the partnership a “natural step” for them.
Contact USA Today Fact Check: 1-800-872-7073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.