Snopes Gets Its Own Scathing Fact-Check, Learns the Hard Way Not To Mess with Conservative Media


Snopes is a verified fact checker for Facebook, which should tell you all you need to know about the state of social media in 2018. Few news organizations tilt so far to the left as Snopes does, and it’s supposed to be the site news organizations use to find out if a story is true. Ay dios mio.

Conservative writers and websites are pretty much used to the site’s bias; in fact, to borrow a phrase from Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse in conservative media than being assailed by Snopes is not being assailed by Snopes. It’s a sign that you’ve made it. Or, at least I think so, since I’ve been the subject of what I thought was one of its more eye-rollingly iffy pieces about a ridiculous essay that tried to draw a profoundly tenuous parallel between last summer’s solar eclipse and institutional racism. (Without going into specifics of why Snopes was wrong, let me just say this: Try harder next time, guys, and get a sense of humor.)

I don’t remember receiving any inquiries from Snopes about the piece in question, however. Apparently, that’s now a thing, since Snopes is demanding to know where Breitbart got images of members of the New Black Panther Party campaigning for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a Democrat.

“Over the weekend, Breitbart News — among other media outlets — published explosive photographs of armed Black Panthers campaigning for Abrams, holding up her campaign sign while also holding up various guns,” Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reported Monday.

“In the story, Breitbart News included a quote from the campaign of her GOP opponent, Brian Kemp, calling on her to denounce the radicals campaigning for her.”

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The story went viral and got picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets. This prompted Snopes to send a series of questions to Breitbart regarding the photos it had obtained.

“On Monday, a self-identified ‘reporter’ for Snopes, Bethania Palma, reached out to Breitbart News with a series of questions about the Black Panther report,” Breitbart reported.

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“None of the questions implies anything was inaccurate about the report,” it said. “Facebook relies on Snopes as an official ‘fact checker’ to detect fake news and misinformation on the platform, along with a small group of other primarily left-wing organizations including Politifact.”

Here were some of Palma’s questions:

“The story says Breitbart ‘obtained’ images of the Black Panthers. Where did Breitbart obtain the images from?”

“Why does Breitbart quote the Kemp campaign with no obvious effort to get comment from the Abrams campaign?”

“Why did Breitbart use the term ‘lobby’ in the headline?”

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“Breitbart normally takes a pro-gun stance. Does Breitbart maintain that stance when the gun owners are black?”

“Did anyone at Breitbart make an effort to contact the New Black Panther Party for comment?”

That last one is a doozy, because if there’s anything that’s going to make this story look better, it’s a quote from the equable folks at the New Black Panther Party.

However, Breitbart noticed some interesting things about Palma.

“Just a quick glance at Palma’s Twitter account or at her history of writing for radical leftist outlet Alternet shows a hard leftist mentality, one quick to accuse Trump of being ‘racist’ (the latest is a series of tweets attacking the president’s campaign ad on the migrant caravan as such) or linking Trump to the Ku Klux Klan any way she can — a history dating back years, as Breitbart News has reported about Palma before,” the publication said.

So, Breitbart had a few questions for Palma, which thus far have gone unanswered:

“1.) Why can anyone trust Snopes to be an independent authority on fact-checking when you personally are so clearly biased in favor of leftists?

“2.) You implied in your questions to us that our story had something to do with race. The story clearly did not. What made you think that? Please be specific.

“3.) In your questions to us, you did not indicate that there was anything even close to inaccurate in our story. So, again, please be specific: what exactly are you ‘fact checking’?

“4.) Do you send similar lists of questions to outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and others on their reporting?”

I’m sure the temptation to include that emoji with the smiley-face stroking its chin was very, very tempting.

We don’t need the answer to any of these questions, mind you, nor are they important. What they do is make a point: Snopes is supposed to be about fact-checking. None of what Palma asked had to do with the facts behind the pictures. It was an attempt to smear Breitbart by questioning its sources (I don’t remember Snopes taking a hard-line stance regarding anonymous sources in the past; quite to the contrary, if my desultory reading of the website wasn’t mistaken) and implying that Breitbart was against the New Black Panther Party because of race and not because it’s a revolutionary fringe organization with a history of voter intimidation inserting itself into a campaign.

“Palma has not replied to our request for comment before publication,” Breitbart dryly noted. I wouldn’t be counting on that email, but I’m sure an article “debunking” its piece is on its way.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture