Greg Marx of CJR has posted a lengthy defense of FactCheck.org and Glenn Kessler, but he gives it away (h/t commenter hilts):
Admittedly, that picture is murky.
It it’s murky, then why start people calling liars when their interpretation of said murk differs from yours? I don’t like this whole so-called fact-checking thing anyway, for the reasons that Jim Newell describes here. Maybe there is a place for a guy who writes “Sarah Palin says that ACA will cost the country $50 trillion dollars, which is false, since professional estimates are that it will save up to $1 trillion or cost up to $1 trillion” (or whatever the estimates are, I think that’s about right). Maybe there is even a place for someone who takes on more subjective stuff, when it’s patently absurd, and still calls himself a fact-checker.
But there’s not a place for “fact-checkers” who become surrogates for presidential campaigns on matters that are admittedly murky. The desire to tell people what you think about something complicated (that you probably don’t understand) and demand that they respect your authoritah as a FACT CHECKER, BITCH…it’s a sickness, maybe a personality disorder.
Henry Blodgett writes simply of Romney “If he was CEO, Chair, and Pres, he’s still responsible”. How is that not a reasonable claim? Sure, Kessler can say “well, I don’t think he was that involved in day-to-day”, but the truth is…Kessler doesn’t know. He’s making a judgement call.
When it comes to refereeing things, I’m a Burkean minimalist. Sometimes the right call is “no call”. Let me geek out on you about basketball for a minute. There were a ton of charges called during this year’s play-offs. Too many. The way the rule is written is tricky: “On a drive to the basket, the defender must get to his position before the shooter starts his upward shooting motion” (in order for the shooter to be called for a charging foul) and “If he (the defender) does not get into a legal defensive position and contact occurs, it is a blocking foul.”
What does it mean to start an “upward shooting motion”? It happens in that split second between when the shooter plants to take-off and when he actually takes off. In situations where it’s just not clear if the upward shooting motion began before the defender was set, it’s better, I think, if the refs call neither a block nor a charge. Let them play.
Likewise — even moreso — if you’re going to call yourself a fact-checker, stick to facts and stay away from adjudicating disputes where things are admittedly murky. You don’t have to weigh in on everything. Sometimes it’s better to just shut the fuck up.