Speaking of Fact Checkers apparently CNN and the CNN Truth Squad are a bit at odds over the whole Ayers question as reported over at DrBulldog
H/T to RealClearPolitics for highlighting this article from WSJ online:
The "fact check" is opinion journalism or criticism, masquerading as straight news. The object is not merely to report facts but to pass a judgment. The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog ends each assessment with between one and four "Pinocchios," just like movie reviewers giving out stars.
Like movie reviewing, the "fact check" is a highly subjective process. If a politician makes a statement that is flatly false, it does not need to be "fact checked." The facts themselves are sufficient. "Fact checks" end up dealing in murkier areas of context and emphasis, making it very easy for the journalist to make up standards as he goes along, applying them more rigorously to the candidate he disfavors (which usually means the Republican).
Example: USA Today has a "reality check" of a McCain ad whose script runs as follows:
Narrator: "Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are . . .
Obama: ". . . just air-raiding villages and killing civilians."
Narrator: "How dishonorable. Congressional liberals voted repeatedly to cut off funding to our active troops, increasing the risk on their lives. How dangerous. Obama and congressional liberals: too risky for America."
The USA Today headline reads "Quote From Obama Taken Out of Context." In a way this is a tautology, since a quotation by definition is taken out of its original context (and placed in a new one). But of course the phrase out of context usually connotes "used in a misleading way." Is that the case here? Here is a longer version of the Obama quote, per USA Today:
"We've got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there."
On the one hand, Obama was making a broader argument, which the McCain ad ignores: that America should send more troops to Afghanistan. On the other hand, Obama clearly did assert that America is "air-raiding villages and killing civilians" (the subsequent clause makes that undeniable), though one could argue about whether he was asserting or merely worrying that we are "just" doing so. (more)