Fact Checking the Fact Checkers

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

The final and absolute loss of objectivity by the media became apparent with biased and unchecked  “fact checkers” starting with social media and now infiltrating other aspects of corporate and media life.

In 2019, I was the prime sponsor of a bill, HB1890 concerning fetal remains.  The outcry over the bill was almost spontaneous despite its bipartisan passage with a vote of 123-76.  The articles were inaccurate, and the lobbyist groups characterizations were misleading at best or perhaps just false.

The reporting was irrreesponsible and subjected my staff to threats, gross recriminations, and my family to danger without so much as a whisper from those who falsely reported.

One such article was written without soliciting any input from me or the Health Committee staff.  After another reporter friend of mine called me and asked if I would entertain a call from the “offending” reporter, I met with the reporter and our Committee executive director.  The article was “adjusted” somewhat the next day but only after the damage was done.

What the reporter and others did not know was that I responded to virtually every negative attack with a comment and a copy of the three page bill.  We received many wonderful comments from those initially negative to the bill saying that the bill was humane and just.

The following were some of the attacks that went unchecked by the media:

  1. The bill requires a death certificate for all fetal remains.

From the bill:  No death certificate is required.

  1. The bill is mandatory for the mother.

From the bill:  The bill is completely at the discretion of the parent.

  1. The bill requires additional costs to the health care facility.

From the bill:  Any burial costs of a parent wishing to receive their child’s remains is the responsibility of the parent.

Not once did any “fact checker” question the accuracy of the report even after questioning.

Yet, in late 2020, a press release on the irregularities and inconsistencies in the most recent general election were met almost immediately with claims of error in fact.  The “fact checkers” checked only that which they wanted to check.

The press release stated the following:

“We were already concerned with the actions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Executive branch, and election officials in certain counties contravening and undermining the Pennsylvania Election Code by eliminating signature verification, postmarks, and due dates while allowing the proliferation of drop boxes with questionable security measures and the unauthorized curing of ballots, as well as the questionable treatment of poll watchers, all of which created wholesale opportunities for irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.”

“However, we are now seeing discrepancies on the retail level which raise even more troubling questions regarding irregularities in the election returns. These findings call into question the accuracy of the SURE system, consistency in the application of the Pennsylvania Election Code from county to county, and the competency of those charged with oversight of elections in our Commonwealth.

“These numbers just don’t add up, and the alleged certification of Pennsylvania’s presidential election results was absolutely premature, unconfirmed, and in error.”

Yet, a year earlier in December 2019, the Auditor General of Pennsylvania, stated the following:

“DOS’ denial of access to critical documents and excessive redaction of documentation resulted in DAG being unable to fully achieve three of the eight audit objectives. Specifically, DAG was unable to accomplish the following: (1) Objective 1, the accuracy of the records maintained in SURE; (2) Objective 3, the review of security protocols of the SURE system; and (3) Objective 6, review of the external… Accordingly, DAG was unable to establish with any degree of reasonable assurance that the SURE system is secure and that Pennsylvania voter registration records are complete, accurate, and in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and related guidelines.”

Additionally, the report indicated:

“We are very discouraged by management’s response to our draft findings. We were quite surprised that DOS’ response indicates that it strongly disagrees with many of our findings and mischaracterizes information that was provided, or not provided to us in many instances, during the course of our audit.  …We are concerned that DOS, and therefore the counties, will not utilize the information provided to them in the audit because it is assuming that the data in the SURE system is accurate. Our data analysis strongly suggests otherwise. Also, while DOS requested this audit, management does not seem to grasp that we cannot properly conclude and satisfy the audit objectives in accordance with generally accepted Government Auditing Standards without obtaining sufficient appropriate evidence, which they refused to provide to us.”

Source – Pages 2-4, Executive Summary, Performance Audit Report of the Department of State, Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE), prepared by the Department of the Auditor General, dated December 13, 2019

The fact that the “fact checkers” ignored these ominous reports is sheer negligence of the media and but the Auditor General report helped fuel the concerns that we had about the election results.

Fact checking is dangerous!   It disenfranchises minority groups!  It is the antithesis of a constitutional republic!

The media must be held accountable and forced to stop the censoring of thoughts for which they do not agree.  If this is not done, we will find ourselves in an untenable situation where either social media becomes regulated, “fact checkers” become licensed by the government the sheer thought of which is nauseating, or citizens will lose all confidence in all our forms of checks and balances.

Political rhetoric for almost 10 years prior to the 2016 election vilified conservatives. Obama’s comments about Trump supporters clinging to their guns and religion reverberated throughout middle America. His comments in 2015 picked at the scab of the wound inflicted by Obama on the nation’s heartland when he said it in 2008.

In 2018, elections in many Democratic primaries pushed their candidates further to the left embracing socialism just as Republicans and conservatives were embracing free markets.

Finally, the Senate spectacle relating to the confirmation hearings with the three Trump nominated Justices perhaps exemplifies most the divide now splitting our nation.  It may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

The bigotry towards conservatives has been playing out for over a decade and is culminating in the charade they call “fact checking”.

The character of a nation and its core values determine whether or not a nation will survive.   Diversity of thought, critical thinking, and logical debate strengthen our nation.  Fact checking and censorship are personifications of a tyrannical society.

Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives.  He is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel, a CPA and specializes in corporate restructuring.  He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations.  He can be reached at [email protected].