But to be fair, what do outlets do when they have thousands of pieces of information to verify? The best approach: maybe just avoidance.
So this brings us to the President of the U.S. who, we know, shoots from the hip, which his supporters love. (For some reason, he doesn’t have any content/copy editors or fact-checkers, like the rest of us.)
Trump's tally for false or misleading claims, per The Washington Post, is 10,111 since he assumed office. The Toronto Star has other data, pegging his specious remarks at 8,158.
According to a three-week survey, Media Matters of America examined more than 2,000 tweets posted between January 26 and February 15 from Twitter accounts of major U.S. print, online and broadcast news outlets.
Looking at 32 major news outlets Twitter feeds, it found 65% of the time those news organizations failed to fact-checked Trump. Inaccurate or false information was broadcast without context.
Beyond just the tweets, fact-checking timing can be a tricky thing, given the platforms. It wasn’t only tweets that were analyzed, but live Trump speeches, press conferences and interviews.
Who came out on top in handling all this? NPR, and, drum roll, Fox News Channel. But their approaches were not what you may think.
NPR’s main Twitter account published just 20 tweets about Trump comments in that three-week period. Four of the tweets referenced false claims made by Trump and fact-checked by NPR, which disputed all of them.
Fox News? According to the study, it did not tweet anything in reference to comments from Trump directly in the three weeks during which the study was conducted.
Is this a case of “What I don’t know, won’t hurt me” or “I don’t know if I can trust this source?”
Now, many would say avoidance is the wrong approach. News organizations need to keep those in power -- of all stripes -- accountable. That means checking on the information they get before airing or publishing.
Journalists have regular sources of information -- on the record and off the record. But over certain periods, those sources can, at times, become unreliable. When that happens, journalists give them little or no presence.
Bottom line for such sources: Don’t listen to what they say, just watch -- and report -- what they do.