Accuracy in Media


A Democratic political operative who posted a meme about health care admitted he had gotten much of his tweet wrong and deleted it, but that still wasn’t enough to convince Snopes – a left-leaning fact-checking site – to back off claims the information in the meme was accurate.

Nicholas Kitchel, whose Twitter bio says he works in digital at the Hub Project, created a tweet last month that read, “This is the photo taken at the White House right after @HouseGOP voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year. Everyone with an X has since been voted out of Congress.”

But many of those marked with the red Xs had not been voted out. Jodey Arrington, Ron Estes, Liz Cheney, Michael Burgess, Patrick McHenry, Jason Smith, Bradley Byrne, Markwayne Mullin, Paul Mitchell, Glenn Grothman, Doug Lamborn and Tim Walberg all were in the picture with Xs through their heads despite having won re-election, Jake Sherman of Playbook wrote.

In addition, Ron DeSantis was not re-elected to Congress because he instead ran for and won the governorship of Florida. Tom Price went into the Cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Steve Pearce of New Mexico didn’t run for the House. “This is quite literally insane fake news,” Sherman tweeted.

Joe Perticone, a politics reporter for Business Insider, reported that there was an X over the face of Seema Verma. Verma is the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and has never served in Congress.

When the errors were exposed, Kitchel admitted his mistake and deleted the tweet.

But Snopes evaluated the claim and published a story headlined, “Did 33 Republicans Who Voted to Repeal Obamacare Lose Their Congressional Seats?”

Under “Claim:”, it wrote: “The congressional seats of almost three dozen Republicans who vote to repeal Obamacare were lost to Democrats in 2018.” Under “Rating:”, it put “True.”

But that was not the claim made in the original meme. The claim was that everyone with an X “has since been voted out of Congress.” It did not suggest anything about numbers. It pointed specifically to those individuals as having lost congressional elections.

Snopes’ Bethania Palma wrote that a “meme circulated a claim on social media that a number of Republican legislators had been voted out of office after having supported a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. In the meme, red “X” marks were drawn through the faces of 33 lawmakers who purportedly were rejected by voters” in the midterms.

“Although memes are frequently grossly inaccurate, this one got the general idea and numbers correct (even if the persons actually pictured in the accompanying photograph are difficult or impossible to identify),” Palma wrote. “By our count, at least 34 Republican legislators who voted to repeal or partially repeal Obamacare will not be returning to Congress when the new session begins in January 2019.”

“Not all of the non-returning legislators who cast votes against the ACA were ‘voted out’ in a literal sense, as some “retired” (i.e., didn’t run for re-election) and saw their seats go to Democrats.”

The discrepancy arises because “some commentators who went through the photograph used in the meme in microscopic detail to try to discern the identities behind the tiny faces obscured with red X’s noted that they didn’t all correspond to the (unnamed) members of Congress whose seats were lost after they voted to repeal the ACA.”

In short, they found the errors because they fact-checked the meme.

Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson told the Daily Caller the fact check was correct. “The overall point offered by the meme in question is that some 33 Republican members of Congress who voted to repeal the ACA lost their seats. And as our fact-check documents, that point is correct.

“Our audience is intelligent enough to understand the difference between a literal representation and a symbolic one.”




Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.

Comments

Comments are turned off for this article.