Snopes: The Fake Fact Checker? OPEN THREAD

The well-known myth-busting website has for some time, in the opinion of this writer, appeared to have taken on a decidedly partisan hue. Time and again I have gone to Snopes to see if they had covered common myths propagated by Democrats/liberals—to no avail, but they appeared to be working overtime to catch every single falsehood repeated by the Right. I naturally wondered whether they were simply stocked with liberals who are eager want to dispel conservative falsehoods over liberal ones. I also wondered what standards, if any, were in place to minimize the bias that, perhaps, might be unavoidable from anybody with strong political opinions. My observations were of course non-scientific, and there’s no doubt that Snopes has debunked some liberal falsehoods. That said, while I was able to find several exposés of liberal falsehoods on other fact-checking websites, they were starkly missing on Snopes.

It appears that my friends and I weren’t the only ones wondering about such things. Back in December, The Daily Mail reported:

David Mikkelson [co-founder of Snopes] told the Dailymail.com that Snopes does not have a ‘standardized procedure’ for fact-checking ‘since the nature of this material can vary widely.’ He said the process ‘involves multiple stages of editorial oversight, so no output is the result of a single person’s discretion.’

He also said the company has no set requirements for fact-checkers because the variety of the work ‘would be difficult to encompass in any single blanket set of standards.’

‘Accordingly, our editorial staff is drawn from diverse backgrounds; some of them have degrees and/or professional experience in journalism, and some of them don’t,’ he added.

The Daily Mail’s report led Kalev Leetaru, a contributor to Forbes, to contact David Mikkelson about the allegations. Given the lack of corroborating reports and the silence of other news outlets, Leetaru was inclined to wonder whether this was another example of fake news. He writes:

On the surface this looked like a classic case of fake news – a scandalous and highly shareable story, incorporating official-looking materials and sourcing, yet with no other mainstream outlet even mentioning the story. I myself told my colleague I simply did not know what to think. Was this a complete fabrication by a disgruntled target of Snopes or was this really an explosive expose pulling back the curtain on one of the world’s most respected and famous fact checking brands?

Leetaru’s interaction with Mikkelson yielded several items of highly disturbing information. Snopes does not prohibit somebody who has run for or has held political office to serve as a fact-checker. This of course raises serious questions on how such a person could objectively analyze material that is hostile to his or her beliefs. How is an organization’s credibility advanced when there appears to be no standard in place to prevent partisanship? Moreover,

When I asked for comment on the specific detailed criteria Snopes uses to screen its applicants and decide who to hire as a fact checker, surprisingly David demurred, saying only that the site looks for applicants across all fields and skills. He specifically did not provide any detail of any kind regarding the screening process and how Snopes evaluates potential hires. David also did not respond to further emails asking whether, as part of the screening process, Snopes has applicants fact check a set of articles to evaluate their reasoning and research skills and to gain insight into their thinking process.

This was highly unexpected, as I had assumed that a fact checking site as reputable as Snopes would have a detailed written formal evaluation process for new fact checkers that would include having them perform a set of fact checks and include a lengthy set of interview questions designed to assess their ability to identify potential or perceived conflicts of interest and work through potential biases.

One of Snopes’ authors is Kim Lacapria. Writing for Inquisitr, she states:

The scandal envy suggestion seems, at least to many on the left, as a plausible explanation for why a series of allegations seem to be so damning to some and so head-scratching to others. (To put it delicately, diffusion of coverage on … certain news outlets … may also be in part to blame.) And as an openly left-leaning individual myself, I share the befuddlement many liberal pundits and newsmen and women seem to express in working out, even now, how Obama may have “ignored” Benghazi or why we are supposed to be so angry that four Americans were tragically killed in an attack on a diplomatic entity in a dangerous zone — a circumstance that is tragic, but not a surprise.

Lacapria describes the Benghazi issue as “scandal envy,” and wonders what all the fuss is about. She is certainly entitled to be “openly left-leaning,” and she is certainly entitled to her opinions, but when she’s fact-checking political stories, that’s another matter. Would liberals enjoy reading a Snopes piece written by Rush Limbaugh about Clinton’s email scandal? Would they not question Limbaugh’s objectivity? Since Snopes is apparently comfortable with a left-winger fact-checking Republicans, I think it is fair to ask whether any right-wingers are on the Snopes’ payroll fact-checking Democrats. Can a highly partisan person be objective with the facts? I think so, but without standardized procedures to curb bias (see below), readers might feel obligated to do their own investigating—in which case, why go to Snopes?

Snopes not only has a front-end problem, but Mikkelson was allegedly silent on his organization’s quality assessment procedures:

This raises exceptionally grave concerns about the internal workings of Snopes and why it is not more forthcoming about its assessment process. Arguing that because multiple fact checkers might work on an article, reliability is not a concern, is a false argument that shows a concerning lack of understanding about reliability and accuracy. Imagine a team of 50 staunch climate deniers all working collaboratively to debunk a new scientific study showing a clear link between industrial pollution and climate change. The very large team size does not make up for the lack of diversity of opinion. Yet, David provided no comment on how Snopes does or does not explicitly force diversity of opinion in its ad-hoc fact checking teams.

A robust human rating workflow must regularly assess the accuracy and reproducibility of the scores generated by its human raters, even when they work collaboratively together. Typically this means that on a regular basis each fact checker or fact checker team is given the same article to fact check and the results compared across the groups. If one person or group regularly generates different results from the others, this is then evaluated to understand why. Similarly, an individual or group is also periodically given the same or nearly identical story from months prior to see if they give it the same rating as last time – this assesses whether they are consistent in their scoring.

In addition, Mikkelson apparently did not respond to a question on why his staff rarely ever reaches out to the authors of pieces being fact-checked in order to get their side of the story. Leetaru states that it is standard journalistic procedure to reach out to a person you are writing negatively about in order to give that person a chance to respond.

Mikkelson allegedly did not reply to Leetaru’s question on why Snopes doesn’t have a dedicated appeals page for those who contest the accuracy of their conclusions or whether they have any formal written appeals process. Readers are encouraged to read Leetaru’s entire piece. Greater transparency is definitely needed before we place our trust in an organization which claims to be an arbiter of truth.

One might of course argue that their lack of transparency notwithstanding, their reports are nonetheless accurate. Where is the evidence that they’ve been biased? What stories have they gotten wrong? The website yournewswire lists their coverage of Hillary Rodham’s defense of a child rapist, “racist brownies,” and the Democratic Party’s removal of the U.S. Flag on the first day of their last convention as examples of extremely questionable fact-checking by the alleged arbiter of truth. The flag issue is particularly interesting because Snopes couched the issue as a claim that the American flag was banned from the convention. However, Snopes focused on The Daily Caller’s (DC) reporting of the event, to which DC replied that Snopes was clearly lying. Particularly troublesome is the DC’s screenshot of one of Snopes’ pictures allegedly showing flags on Day 1. However, that picture was from a C-SPAN grab of a Day 2 event. Snopes apparently removed that image without explanation, perhaps because DC called them on it.

Until Snopes can provide greater transparency, it appears that we’ll need to fact-check Snopes…or simply ignore it.

The Alternate Reality of the Political Left
Weekend Caption Contest™ Winners February 17, 2017
  • pennywit

    Hmph. I have two issues with the Snopes criticism you cite:

    1) In the first incident he cites (Clinton laughing), Baxter Dmitry takes Snopes to task over analysis and opinion, not facts. “Clinton laughed about the case” is an opinion drawn from the evidence, as opposed to “Clinton laughed,” which is a fact.

    2) Dmitry’s critique is itself replete with opinion and partisan signaling (note, for example, the use of the term “social justice warriors.”) This calls into question his own biases.

    If you’re going to rebutt a fact-checking cite, you need to be dispassionate and unopinionated as you do so. Otherwise, your own critique lacks credibility. Or perhaps the critique is written only to confirm the views of a partisan audience.

    • Retired military

      ” Or perhaps the critique is written only to confirm the views of a partisan audience.”
      You mean like snopes political articles.
      Got it.

    • I grade your response as mostly in error.

    • jim_m

      Or perhaps you overlooked the multiple examples of partisanship on the part of Snopes in the article, probably for partisan political reasons.

    • Brett Buck

      In limited dealing with the Mikkelsons (before Snopes became, er, proclaimed itself a “fact checker” and before it was a website), it was clear that they treated the USENET group as their personal hangout, and engaged in the same sort of snarky condescending BS that is hallmark of leftist wit. And that if you did not toe the left-wing line, they and their followers would attempt to drive you off with it. Didn’t bother me too much, because I am more than capable of defending myself, but they would set upon the unsuspecting who wandered in like a pack of wolves.

      Barb in particular is a real pain in the ass, at least on-line. They told someone once that they deserved the endless abuse because “you came into my living room ” or something very similar. Of course, since it was USENET, it wasn’t so much their living room as it was a bus station at 3 in the morning.

      This alone hardly proves their bias, but it does give you some insight into their thought processes.

      • pennywit

        Holy hell, Brett. I thought I was the only one who remembered Usenet!! Do you have any links to an archive of the Usenet group? I’d love to take a look at this myself.

        Regarding this:

        it was clear that they treated the USENET group as their personal hangout, and engaged in the same sort of snarky condescending BS that is hallmark of leftist wit.

        Did you see recent coverage of right-wing folk dumping their Nordstrom accounts over its decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s clothing line? I saw a LOT of snarky left-wing social-media commentary about the people in the videos. Stuff along the lines of “They look like that can’t afford Nordstrom’s!!” and several invocations of Wal-Mart and K-Mart.

        A very close friend of mine voiced similar opinions. I tried to tell her that commentary like that is exactly what turns conservatives (especially rural and exurb conservatives) against folks in the cities and suburbs. But I don’t think my comment sunk in.

        • Brett Buck

          No, you are not the only one. In several groups, USENET really hung in there for a long time, despite the influx of spam. It was a very good medium for a long time, you could easily follow threads, and comments didn’t drop of the first page and thus become invisible like it does on the internet. alt.folklore.urban can still be searched, I think, using what ever abomination that Google Groups turned it in to.

          On the other, I have no idea what you mean. Honestly, who *doesn’t* love condescending smart-ass comments from people hiding behind keyboards, or with the time on a weekday afternoon to appear is smart-alec videos? It’s quite endearing.

          I am sure that the people doing this don’t care one whit about your concern. Of course it makes them seem like arrogant condescending jackasses, and pisses people off, but I am sure they would be quite delighted with that. It’s a minor manifestation of a much larger problem where many people aren’t even interested in debating in a point, just in “winning” these trivial interactions. These are the people who made Jon Stewart, for example, a nationals *news* source.

          • pennywit

            I am sure that the people doing this don’t care one whit about your concern.

            It was very disconcerting to hear it from somebody very close to me.

            I just find it very rich that left-wingers in general will get up in arms about racial or sexual stereotypes, but don’t recognize when they’re playing the same game with economic stereotypes.

          • Brett Buck

            Or racial or ethnic stereotypes, either. They will jump down someone else’s throat for it, but when they do it, it’s as funny as an Amos n’ Andy gag.

          • pennywit

            I think I said it on an earlier open thread here, but this is why I think entertainment media need to retire the
            “idiot hillbilly” stock character.

          • pennywit

            despite the influx of spam.

            Ah, yes, the green card spam. I remember that one.

            If I’m ever in a jury for an antispam case, I’ll be in the front row with a little model electric chair.

        • Some of us also remember GEnie and CompuServe…

        • jim_m

          Big mistake to assume that people who dress down have no money. I know some really well off people that when they aren’t working dress pretty casual. Years ago when I worked a summer in auto sales I saw some pretty shabby people come in and shell out 90k for a car. Cash. I know more than one who has never owned a luxury car, not because they can’t afford it but because they don’t need it (they get a company car and they spend the $$ for the Mercedes for their wife).

          The left is all about superficial appearances. Their obsession with race is a demonstration of that.

    • Scalia

      In the first incident he cites (Clinton laughing), Baxter Dmitry takes Snopes to task over analysis and opinion, not facts. “Clinton laughed about the case” is an opinion drawn from the evidence, as opposed to “Clinton laughed,” which is a fact.

      The transcript shows that Clinton laughed while discussing the case, so it is entirely accurate to say that she laughed about the case.

      Dmitry’s critique is itself replete with opinion and partisan signaling (note, for example, the use of the term “social justice warriors.”) This calls into question his own biases.

      I don’t disagree that Dmitry has his biases, but what has that got to do with his factual analysis of Snopes? For Snopes to label the Clinton story as “MOSTLY FALSE” when the claim (“Hillary Clinton successfully defended an accused child rapist and later laughed about the case”) is entirely true.

      What Snopes should have done is say that some were reporting the case in a misleading manner. Instead of doing that, they went into the pro-Clinton spin zone.

      • pennywit

        I don’t disagree that Dmitry has his biases, but what has that got to do with his factual analysis of Snopes?

        The problem is that his own biases and the tone of the article call into question the validity of his analysis.

        • Scalia

          But the validity may be crosschecked with Snopes. Snopes’ clearly states what the claim is and clearly labels it as mostly false. One can plainly see that the claim is entirely true.

  • pennywit

    Looks like a new immigration order is in the works. If ABC is accurate, the new order will be more legally defensible than the previous order.

    • pennywit

      I should say more legally defensible and more politically defensible.

  • Hank_M

    Ignore Snopes. LaCapria is a leftist hack who bends over backwards to protect those on her side. A June Daily Caller article demonstrates this in detail.

    One small example. She tries to debunk the claim that “Hillary Clinton purchased a $12,000 Giorgio Armani jacket to deliver a speech about income inequality.”, rating it as mostly false.

    She then goes on to explain the jacket had a list price of $12,495 but later had a reduced retail price.

    To further bolster her claim, she argues about the speech Hillary gave claiming the words
    “income equality” don’t appear in the speech while acknowledging that the speech did talk about that.

    Then she finishes with this: “After the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July 2016, Hillary Clinton’s infamous Armani jacket was again negatively compared to the dress worn at the convention by GOP nominee Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka, an item of clothing (from Ivanka’s own label) that retails for $158. Trump’s wife Melania, however, opted for a pricier Margot dress by Roksanda, which retails for $2,190”.

    Like that is relevant.

    Snopes is like almost all of the so-called fact-checking sites out there – biased and not worth being read.

    As Instapundit oftens says, “WHO WILL FACT-CHECK THE FACT-CHECKERS?”

  • Retired military

    Snopes is fine if you are checking on an internet scam about Nigerian princes but if politics is involved they are definitely left wing.

  • jim_m

    Yes, when it comes to politics Snopes is highly biased and they have published outright lies on multiple occasions. Snopes was useful when it was talking about celebrities and scams. On any issue with even slight political overtones Snopes becomes highly suspect as like most left wing organs they abandon objectivity in favor of advancing an agenda.

    Once again we see that the left has fully adopted the Alinsky rule that the only unethical use of a means is the non use of a means. The lefties at Snopes will abuse their position in order to cover for their allies and advance their agenda.

  • yetanotherjohn

    You know, the idea of rigorous objectivity in reporting is now such an old idea that it might be profitable again. The problem for the left is that if a news organization was truly objective, they left would have to denounce it as right wing racist, etc because it wasn’t hewing the lefts political line. Further, the right would require experience, not just words, before they could truly trust such an organization. The experience requires time which in turn would raise the cost of starting up such a news service

    So the left has gutted news so thoroughly that it may be impossible to start up a new and truly objective news service. Unfortunately, this is at a time when the need for one is greater than ever.

  • Scalia

    East Naples teacher reassigned after Facebook post about immigrants:

    A teacher at Parkside Elementary School in East Naples was transferred to administrative duties Thursday after making a social media post supporting mass deportation.

    The Facebook post referred to “A Day Without Immigrants,” a demonstration that called for immigrants to stay home from school and work Thursday to show the contributions they make to the U.S. economy and culture.

    The teacher, Veronica Fleming, shared a Chicago Tribune article about the protest and posted:

    “The funny part about immigrants staying home is the rest of us who pay for them are here at work like we’ve always been. Looks like less mouths to feed today. Have fun while you still can. So glad to hear about massive deportation. Let’s make America great again. Thanks Donald Trump!!”

    Fleming was an instructional resource teacher who ran a computer lab at the school and taught students about technology, said Greg Turchetta, a spokesman for Collier County Public Schools.

    Parkside Elementary is in the Naples Manor community, and 96 percent of the students are minorities.

    “This is a very tight-knit neighborhood school that stands for inclusion,” Turchetta said. “The teachers have nothing but love for these students. Anything else is not a reflection of the school.”

    Fleming has been reassigned to the district’s administrative offices, pending an investigation. Turchetta said the district thinks she made the post during school hours, but that was being investigated.

    Attempts to reach Fleming were unsuccessful Thursday.

    […]

    “What hurts is that Ms. Fleming works at an elementary school. These are little kids. What is she teaching them? How was she treating them just because they’re Latinos?”

    Marquez said she would not want to keep her children enrolled at the school if Fleming were allowed to return.

    An online petition created by parents on change.org calls for Fleming to be fired.

    “We understand that as a private citizen Mrs. Fleming should be allowed to express herself, however, as an educator at a school composed of predominantly Hispanic, Haitian, and students of other minorities, one should always be professional and behave as an impartial authority figure that is held to higher standards,” the petition states.

    Oh, that’s rich. As a private citizen, she “should be allowed to express herself,” but she should be fired from her job for exercising her rights.

    • pennywit

      Honest question … can she still discharge her duties, and can parents trust her to be impartial toward their children after these comments?

      • jim_m

        Can you trust anyone to do their job because the other person has private political beliefs that differ from you?

        The left(and apparently you) would answer “No”.

        The rational world would say that in civil society we treat each other with respect regardless of political viewpoint.

        That’s called tolerance. Something the left raves on and on about, but does not understand in the least.

      • Brett Buck

        There’s no evidence that she cannot discharge her duties just as well as ever. The fact that she holds a mainstream political position certainly doesn’t impact that – certainly, if you surveyed teachers as a group, you would find a large liberal bias, and that should be much more disqualifying than calling criminals what they are, and pointing out the fact that mass deportations of criminals would ease the burden on the rest of us.

        The only fault I can see is that she uses the word “immigrants” in the same way the press always uses it, but it is clear from the context that she meant “illegal immigrants”. If you examined transcript of the average elementary school teacher for a day, this wouldn’t even make the top 10 of imprecise statements.

        Of course, in her environment of the foaming-at-the-mouth leftist education industry, she is being hounded out of her profession for not holding the same personal political views as everyone else.

        • pennywit

          I sort of rolled the question around in my head. What if a school teacher made a similar comment about whites on social media? If that teacher were grading my kids’ work, you can bet that I’d be at the principal’s office to demand that teacher’s head on a platter.

          • jim_m

            Perhaps a better approach would be to assess whether or not the teacher was being unfair to your children before making an unsubstantiated accusation about the teacher’s conduct.

            Private conduct is just that, private. When did the left give up on the idea that people should be allowed a right to privacy? After all, right to privacy is how the left established the legality of their sacrament, abortion.

            It would be different if the teacher were expressing private political opinions and forcing them on the class. This was the teacher expressing themselves on Facebook. There is a difference.

          • Hawk_TX

            She referred to immigrants which is a category that includes whites. From her remark about deportations it is clear that she was referring to illegal immigrants. Why are you interjecting race into her comment when she did not mention race at all?

            Why do you consider it controversial for a teacher to speak out against lawbreakers?

          • pennywit

            Why are you interjecting race into her comment when she did not mention race at all?

            Because my race was the first category that came to mind when I was trying to figure out how I’d feel if I were on the receiving end of those comments.

          • jim_m

            Sometimes racism is what you bring to the conversation and not what others have in their hearts. If race is the first thing you think of you just might be a racist.

          • To paraphrase Raylan Givens:

            If the first person you run into in the morning is a racist asshole, that just means they are a racist asshole. If all you run into all day long are racists assholes, you may be the racist…

          • Olsoljer

            ….of course you would, You are a liberal racist.

          • WHO’S THE BUSTER

            “My family has the spectrum of inter racial relationships covered (except oriental maybe).”

            If you are going to accuse people of racism, a word of advice.

            There are no Oriental people. Rugs? Yes, but people? No.

          • jim_m

            I’ve got news for you: Assuming someone is racist because they use a term, which until not much more than a decade ago was in common use, is foolish and ignorant. The constant changing of terms for minorities is idiotic and if we are going to start claiming that such usage is racist I sure as hell hope you have expunged all records of your past life because once “Asian” and “African American” go out of style in the next five year you are going to be the world’s biggest bigot.

          • And just who around here (other than brucehemorrhoid) would ask your opinion about racism and charges thereof?

      • Scalia

        I would like to know what her record was previous to her Facebook post. If there are no complaints, then I don’t see why she couldn’t effectively discharge her duties. Besides, what connection is there between a stated opposition to illegal immigration and teaching minority students? Are all of those students here illegally? Are their parents here illegally? Why is it racist to be opposed to illegal immigration?

        From what we know thus far, this appears to be a huge overreaction.

        • pennywit

          I would like to know what her record was previous to her Facebook post.

          Certainly one that needs to be explored.

          Besides, what connection is there between a stated opposition to illegal immigration and teaching minority students?

          I think there’s a legitimate question here. Was she referring to illegal immigration? Or all immigration? I’m not sure we can read “illegal immigrant” into her commentary.

          • Scalia

            Was she referring to illegal immigration? Or all immigration? I’m not sure we can read “illegal immigrant” into her commentary.

            I think we can. She specifically cited Trump who has repeatedly said that he is opposed to illegal immigration.

    • Hank_M

      “Let’s make America great again. Thanks Donald Trump!!”

      That’s why they want her fired.
      We’re seeing this everywhere after the election.

    • Vagabond661

      Would she have gotten reassigned praising Obama?

  • pennywit

    Anybody else wonder what the heck this college student is talking about?

    One of my professors, for example, constantly perpetuated these systems of oppression in class. He is a white man from the suburbs. And as the only black student in the class, I was already fearing the possibility of getting mad over something stupid that he was going to say. But I gave him a chance.

    Unfortunately, he proved my suspicions to be true. There were countless times that his lack of acknowledgment of his privilege led to some of the trauma that I experienced in class. He would show images of slaves on plantations and even allow students to say ignorant comments in class.

    What were the “images of slaves on plantations” and what was the context? What were the “ignorant statements” uttered by other students? Without those details, the writer lacks credibility.

    • jim_m

      This student is obsessed with white people “acknowledge their privilege” which sounds suspiciously like the inquisition demanding that people confess their sins. This is racism straight up and this poor idiot student believes that his prejudice against white people is entirely justified. Sadly, it sounds like the basis for his prejudice is largely imagined offenses and not real ones.

      It matters little what the context is for the “images of slaves”, etc. If it was a US history class then the student needs to toughen up a little. If it was a mathematics class he may have a point.

      But the demand that white people “acknowledge their privilege” is a demand for people to self incriminate themselves for crimes that either never happened or they did not commit. It is a totalitarian demand made to force a class of people to accept guilt that they are in no way responsible for. Such demands are odious and should always be refused.

    • Retired military

      When the writer said

      “:There were countless times that his lack of acknowledgment of his privilege led to some of the trauma that I experienced in class.


      It should have been your first clue that the writer had no credibility at all.

  • Scalia

    Is grammar racist? According to the University of Washington Writing Center, Tacoma Campus:

    The writing center works from several important beliefs that are crucial to helping writers write and succeed in a racist society. The racist conditions of our society are not simply a matter of bias or prejudice that some people hold. In fact, most racism, for instance, is not accomplished through intent. Racism is the normal condition of things. Racism is pervasive. It is in the systems, structures, rules, languages, expectations, and guidelines that make up our classes, school, and society. For example, linguistic and writing research has shown clearly for many decades that there is no inherent “standard” of English. Language is constantly changing. These two facts make it very difficult to justify placing people in hierarchies or restricting opportunities and privileges because of the way people communicate in particular versions of English.

    Because we all live, work, learn, and communicate within such racist systems, the consultants in the writing center assume that a big part of our job is to help students become more critical of these unjust language structures as they affect students’ writing and the judgment of that writing. In particular, being aware of racism as structural offers students the best chances to develop as writers and succeed on their own terms in an inherently racist society.

    Furthermore, by acknowledging and critiquing the systemic racism that forms parts of UWT and the languages and literacies expected in it, students and writing center consultants can cultivate a more socially just future for everyone. Just avoiding racism is not enough because it means we are doing nothing to stop racism at large, and it amounts to allowing racism to continue.

    […]

    The writing center consultants and staff promise to listen and look carefully and compassionately for ways that we may unintentionally perpetuate racism or social injustice, actively engaging in antiracist practices. For instance, we promise to:

    be sensitive to our language practices (what we say or allow to be said) and other microaggressions that may make some people feel uncomfortable or feel in some way inferior;
    openly discuss social justice issues as they pertain to the writing at hand;
    emphasize the importance of rhetorical situations over grammatical “correctness” in the production of texts;
    be reflective and critical of the practices we engage in;
    provide students ways to be more aware of grammar as a rhetorical set of choices with various consequences;
    discuss racism and social justice issues openly in productive ways;
    advocate for the things that will make our Center safe, welcoming, productive, proactive;
    challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations;
    conduct on-going assessments of the work of the writing center, looking specifically for patterns or potential inequalities or oppressive practices that may be occurring in the Center.

    • jim_m

      In order to declare grammar racist you first have to declare that blacks are incapable of learning proper grammar. That is a racist proposition in itself. But then we have seen here that the left believes that blacks are inferior and that we cannot have the expectation that they behave in a civilized manner or that they should be capable of doing simple tasks that white people have no trouble with such as acquiring a photo ID, knowing where government offices are (except for welfare and SNAP, etc).

    • jim_m

      WHy do I get the impression that “discussing racism and social justice issues” will require white people to “Acknowledge their privilege” and other methods of demeaning white people and imputing racial guilt upon them for actions they or their ancestors may have had no involvement in?

    • Hank_M

      Racism. The more we defeat it the bigger it gets.

      As for the loons at the Writing Center, once you actually use the terms “microagressions” and “social justice” you are not to be taken seriously about anything.

    • pennywit

      Four thoughts:

      1) If you’re debating somebody, slamming that person’s grammar or other linguistic tics can came across as condescending and prejudiced … and not just because of race.

      2) If you work in a university writing center, you should be aware that your clients come to you specifically because they have trouble writing. Being kind to them is basic professionalism.

      3) This policy is excessively wordy.

      4) If your job in the real world calls for you to write, your boss doesn’t care if you came from an underprivileged background (whether because of race, nationality, economics, or whatever). He just cares about whether you write well in the appropriate language.

      • jim_m

        1) This was not about debate, this was about classwork submissions.

        2) being kind would be helping them write with appropriate grammar. Allowing them to continue in ignorance is only limiting their opportunities for success. Gee, it’s almost like the left wants blacks to fail. (what do I mean almost, of course they do, their whole political existence depends on blacks continuing to fail)

        4) precisely why grammar matters.

      • Four responses.

        1) If you are engaged in textual debate with someone with poor grammar skills or worse spelling, it can be difficult to accurately parse what they have written for meaning. Asking for clarification is all to frequently received as condescending or “mean.” Futhermore, a is is not prejudice to evaluate someone based on their communication skills, which skills do indeed reflect on the individual’s level of education.

        2) If you work in a university writing center with students who cannot write a concise essay or compose a grammatically correct sentance, your university is admitting unqualified students. The degree to which a university has to host remedial courses in writing or mathematics directly reflects upon the competence of the admissions process.

        3) Most administrivia has unwonted tendency to the verbose.

        4) Agreed.

        • Walter_Cronanty

          I would add that a person attempting to impart information loses his audience when he communicates in an unclear manner. When a reader must stop reading in order to decipher what has been written, the reader will lose interest. If a writer doesn’t care enough about his audience to write clearly, why should his audience care enough to read what he’s written?
          Someone used to comment on this blog, I think from the extreme and/or conspiratorial right, who consistently wrote in lengthy, run-on sentences and refused to use paragraphs. It was tiresome work trying to slog through his comments and figure out his point. I finally stopped.

        • WHO’S THE BUSTER

          You might be surprised that many people in the sciences do not possess writing skills that would be defined as satisfactory.

          Additionally, in the modern world they are not really penalized for their ineptitude.

          • jim_m

            And you might be surprised that minorities are underrepresented in the sciences. So clearly the university is not concerned about racism there.

            However, you might be surprised to learn that while their prose may be lacking, people in STEM fields still have the ability to construct a sentence and correctly spell words. While they may not be skilled at creative writing, ask them to produce a technical document and they will shine.

          • Actually, in modern academia they are not really penalized for their [communications] inability, which is a damning observation about the modern academy.

    • WHO’S THE BUSTER

      I thought I better reply to your statement from another thread so as not to be accused of committing a Wizbang crime. I will post it here since the other thread is beyond its sell-by date.

      “If you have the slightest amount of integrity, you would call for reform
      which would include voter ID, proof of citizenship, and removing dead
      people from voter rolls.”

      That is absolutely fine, but only if it is coupled with more comprehensive voter reform.

      As Bruce Henry mentioned, changes under the guise of voter reform are often coupled with requirements that make it harder for some citizens to cast their vote.

      So along with your adjustments, I propose other improvements that should help almost everyone; either an election holiday or voting on Saturday. I would suggest we either do away with or change the date of President’s Day to coincide with a day set aside for elections. Everyone would get either a full or half day off to cast a vote. Additionally, make it easier to vote early (and according to you guys, often) and increase the number of polling places and extend the hours. There is no reason why people in some areas have to stand in line for hours to cast a vote. It may sound crazy, but it almost seems as if some regions are doing it on purpose.

      If we make the process easier we get a more representative government and I would assume anyone with an ounce of integrity would want that, right?

      • jim_m

        Claims that minorities cannot get ID’s are based solely in racism and nothing else. People who maintain such scurrilous fictions should be ashamed of themselves.

        But I agree that voting on the second Tuesday in November is an obsolete tradition. Originally, in a largely agrarian society it made sense to hold elections after the fall harvest and to allow a day of travel (after Sunday when people would be going to church) so they could be at the polling place on Tuesday. This is not necessary.

        Elections should be held on a weekend and should be help earlier in the year for better weather. Extended voting is an open invitation for fraud and should be eliminated as it would no longer be so necessary with an election occurring over a weekend. Electronic voting which is subject to manipulation and where the votes can be modified easily should be eliminated in favor of paper ballots that will permanently memorialize the votes cast (no punch cards thank you).

        • Federal Elections should be held on the first Saturday after the filing deadline for Federal Taxes.

      • Scalia

        I’m all for legal votes, so if weekend voting will help, count me in. Extended hours? No. Weekend voting should enable everybody who wants to vote to participate.

        Arguing that extended hours will increase minority voting assumes that minorities are incapable of voting like everybody else. Your passive racism is emerging, Buster. Again, weekend voting should solve those problems.

        • pennywit

          I don’t want extended hours for minority voting. I want extended hours so I can vote more easily. I don’t know about you, but I have a 45-minute commute. I’ve managed to vote most years (sometimes by taking a day or half-day off), but it’d be easier if the polls were open longer.

          Weekend voting also useful.

      • pennywit

        A fairly recent study indicates strict voter ID laws have a disparate impact on minority voters. Also worth noting: The Fourth Circuit recently ruled unconstitutional a state law that, among other things, instated a photo ID requirement and curtailed early voting. In doing so, the court noted that the North Carolina law targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision.”

        • jim_m

          Seriously? A baseline from the obama 2008 election is what we should expect for minority turn out? Voter ID suppresses Hispanic vote? Probably because it suppresses non-citizen voting, which I suppose is the point of the left in the first place.

        • Scalia

          I’m going with Jim on this one. To use the 2008 & 2012 models when black voters turned out at a higher rate than whites in both years. In fact, they appear to have made the difference in 2012.

          To jump in and compare those ratios with post-ID laws is rather problematic, wouldn’t you say?

          Moreover, their analysis (apparently 16 elections from 2008 to 2012) seems full of post hoc reasoning. I could have missed it, but I didn’t see any hard numbers showing that non-participation was due to the ID laws in question. In other words, correlation is not causation. Did voters say that they didn’t vote because of the ID laws? The authors appears to have exercised their due diligence with getting the numbers right, excepting the most important number—non-voters who avoided the polls because they couldn’t figure out how to get a photo ID.

          If all the activists who are bellyaching about ID laws spent half as much time getting minorities to obtain photo ID’s the question would be academic, wouldn’t it? It’s not hard to get a photo ID, as sane people know.

          • pennywit

            Did you read the Atlantic article, or did you click through to the study?

          • Scalia

            I read the study.

          • Scalia

            I direct you to this telling admission on page 24 of the study:

            Despite all of these tests, we readily admit that our analysis cannot definitively show a causal connection between voter ID laws and turnout (Erikson and Minnite 2009). States that pass voter ID laws are likely to be different from states that don’t pass these laws on any number of different dimensions. We have, however, tried to incorporate all of the key differences in our analysis and we are confident in our findings.

            Of course they cannot show a causal connection because they didn’t look for one. They restricted their analysis to voter turnout which only gives us a post hoc dinner.

  • Scalia

    Milo Yiannopoulos Resigns from Breitbart:

    “Breitbart News has stood by me when others caved,” said Yiannopoulos. “They have allowed me to carry conservative and libertarian ideas to communities that would otherwise never have heard them. They have been a significant factor in my success. I’m grateful for that freedom and for the friendships I forged there.”

    Milo continued: “I would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effective immediately. This decision is mine alone.”

    Yiannopoulos added: “When your friends have done right by you, you do right by them. For me, now, that means stepping aside so my colleagues at Breitbart can get back to the great work they do.”

    A Breitbart News company statement released after the press conference stated:

    “Milo Yiannopoulos’s bold voice has sparked much-needed debate on important cultural topics confronting universities, the LGBTQ community, the press, and the tech industry.

    “Milo notified us this morning of his decision to resign as editor of Breitbart Tech and we accepted his resignation.”

  • yetanotherjohn

    Open thread question

    You know who I am not hearing much about? VP Pence.
    Is that because I can’t hear about him over the hyperventalating of the MSM or has he really dropped off the map since the march of life?

  • Captain Sum Ting Wong

    I figured this out three years ago when I caught them in blatant lies.

  • Snopes is attacked by the political right when the site doesn’t confirm false claims coming from the political right. Snopes is attacked by the political left when the site doesn’t confirm false claims coming from the political left.

    Now, a lack of information from David Mikkelson is being interpreted as something sinister.

    Snopes has been more correct than the site’s critics will admit.

    • Scalia

      You again need another correction, David. It’s not so much that they’ve been silent; it’s their continued silence once they’re asked.

      Snopes has been given ample opportunity to disclose its methodology, and given the business it engages in, one would think that they’d relish the opportunity to show the world that they adhere to the highest professional standards.

      One would think that professional standards would be important to a writer like you. Oops! My apologies. You wouldn’t know what professional standards are. My bad.

    • David Robertson emerges from hibernation when a shibboleth of the left comes under criticism…

  • Retired military

    Liberals have a site that is an alternate reality version of where Hillary won.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/20/fake-news-site-gives-liberals-alternate-reality-where-hillary-is-president/

    These people are fucking delusional and have no grasp on reality.

    • Scalia

      And these people say that Trump is crazy?

  • In the spirit of the open thread:

    SNOWFALLS ARE NOW JUST A THING OF THE PAST:

    Shot:

    California Braces for Unending Drought

    —The New York Times, May 10, 2016.

    Chaser:

    S.F. rainfall has now exceeded normal for a full season: Here are the numbers.

    —The San Francisco Chronicle, today.

    As the Wattsupwiththat.com eco-blog noted last week:

    Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. When will the Left learn that doomster lies do not work?

    We’re only a month into her administration, but I’m sure President Hillary will help her fellow leftists dial the doomsday talk back a bit.

    (Classical reference in headline.)

    Ed Driscoll writing at Instapundit

  • Retired military

    Per Reuters Mexico said that it will not accept our new immigration policies.
    1. Stop all traffic going across the border to Mexico
    2. Stop all mail going to Mexico
    3. Stop all foreign aid to Mexico
    4. stop all monetary transactions with Mexican banks.
    Give it a week and mexico will be begging to take their citizens back.

  • Jennifer Swarthout

    Your article makes me want to apply for a job at Snopes. I also write for the Inquisitr, but unlike the author you make mention of, I am a conservative (and I voted for Trump). That being said, I have written several political articles that have no bias at all. I have received praise for my ability to walk the line down the middle when writing, clearly expressing both sides while ignoring my own views completely. I think a fact-checking job might be fun.

    • Scalia

      Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for your post. I certainly agree that a partisan can write objectively. Regrettably, Snopes has failed in that regard.