The whole thing about “fact-checking” is that it isn’t supposed to be easy.
When you see a fact-check from a major outlet like Reuters, for instance, you assume there was a team of researchers diligently working behind the scenes, making sure the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted.
You’d be wrong — at least on Thursday, anyway, when Reuters saw fit to publish this: “Fact Check — Claims that ‘Biden is not president’ because of footage with blurred presidential sign are false.”
The claim in question had to do with videos posted to Twitter by Vice President Kamala Harris and the Democratic National Committee after the infrastructure bill was signed by President Joe Biden on Monday.
We got it done.pic.twitter.com/xh84Sy4GgD
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 16, 2021
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is now law. pic.twitter.com/cPCVrdoDsF
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) November 16, 2021
As you can see, the presidential seal is blurred. You’d think there was a deluge of QAnon types flooding Twitter with claims that this meant Biden wasn’t the legitimate president, the way Reuters made it sound.
“A video of U.S. President Joe Biden signing a bipartisan infrastructure bill generated speculation online: some users pointing to the blurred presidential seal on the podium, claiming this was evidence that he is not ‘the real president,'” the outlet reported. “These claims are false.”
“’The presidential seal is blurred because Joe Biden isn’t really the president,’ a Twitter user wrote. ‘Why did they blur the seal, and how did that lady’s hand go through his head? Is this video fake?’ a text superimposed in a Facebook iteration reads.”
According to Reuters, the seal was blurred out because a federal law prohibits using the presidential seal in a way that might make it seem like a stamp of approval.
“The statute makes it illegal to display the seal or other likeness of it in advertisements, public meetings or telecasts, or any other media that may create a ‘false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof,'” Reuters reported.
As you may have noticed, however, the outlet cited only two misleading examples of its debunked claim upfront.
One, which implied the video of Biden signing the bill was all CGI, is from a Facebook video that appears to no longer exist. The other — the one trumpeted in the headline — should have been examined more closely.
the presidential seal is blurred because Joe Biden isn’t really the president https://t.co/zRPUHdJuFK
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) November 17, 2021
The author is Siraj Hashmi, a blue checkmark journo and podcaster. Hashmi is no conspiracy theorist. He is, however, unfailingly sarcastic. You don’t need to be familiar with his work to realize this — although it wouldn’t hurt to do some research if you’re, I don’t know, conducting a fact-check.
Here’s part of his Twitter bio: “BLM | All Lives Matter | ACAB | Blue Lives Matter | Smash Capitalism | Defeat Communism.”
If one were to look at his actual Twitter account, one would notice that Hashmi is also the brains behind “The List” — a compendium of tweeted detritus, usually from the left. A timely example: a deleted tweet bemoaning the loss of the “three black lives” Kyle Rittenhouse took. (It was only two, and they were white.)
deleted, but the List comes for all, @rusmclaughlin.
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) November 20, 2021
Given the context, Hashmi’s claim that Biden “isn’t really the president” is clearly a joke, and anyone who had taken even a quick glance at his Twitter profile would realize this.
That Reuters only included two social media posts — one of them facetious — in the first few paragraphs speaks volumes about the work that went into this malodorous “fact-check.”
Later in the article, Reuters again “fact-checked” tweets about whether or not the video was created using CGI. The only major account included was, yet again, a journalist known for his humor: Stephen L. Miller.
Blurred Seal Twitter is pretty hilarious but not as hilarious as no one noticing CGI Biden suddenly moving in front of clapping woman. ? https://t.co/3RT9qwaWAy
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) November 17, 2021
And it wasn’t just Reuters.
The Associated Press did a similar “fact-check” and cited just two tweets, neither of which were linked. One I couldn’t locate. The other “claim” — “The Presidential Seal is blurred out because Trump owns the copyright” — came from an obvious joke account with the moniker “Comrade Stump.” In his bio, Stump identifies himself as a “Sr. Fellow at Center for Libtard Studies.”
The Presidential Seal is blurred out because Trump owns the copyright. https://t.co/zvrqrXeqyF
— Comrade Stump (@GranTorinoDSA) November 16, 2021
The AP published this “fact-check” on Wednesday. I seem to remember some other pressing stuff going on that day, pressing enough that the AP didn’t have to inform America that “Comrade Stump” was wrong about former President Donald Trump owning the copyright to the presidential seal.
Plenty of people had fun with Reuters’ ridiculous “fact-check” on Twitter:
Does Reuters not have any editors?
— AG (@AGHamilton29) November 20, 2021
WARNING: The following contains graphic language that some readers will find offensive.
Holy shit they did it. They actually did it. pic.twitter.com/F9mX0hcf7D
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) November 20, 2021
don’t cry for me. i’m already dead. https://t.co/6thp1nBiTa
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) November 20, 2021
The whole logic behind these “fact-checks” — which proliferated after the 2016 election, when our overlords in the legacy media decided social media users were reading too much “fake news” — is that they’re supposed to come from a credible source.
“Don’t worry,” Reuters is saying. “The adults are in the room. We’re here to check whether or not a blurred-out presidential seal means Biden isn’t really the president. We knew that otherwise you might have believed it.”
All they’ve done is erode our trust in them even further by proving that their “fact-checking” didn’t involve actually looking into who was behind the “facts” being “checked.” Nice work.
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