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It’s not easy being a conservative comic, especially with fact checkers around.
For starters, the usual platforms are all but closed to them. Late night television. “Saturday Night Live.” Glowing profiles in the mainstream press, the kind reserved for talents with names like Schumer, Colbert or Gaffigan.
Hollywood isn’t itching to build a network sitcom around their freedom-loving rants. Good luck snagging a Netflix comedy special, too. And social media platforms scramble for excuses to censor their material.
The newest threat to right-leaning comics, or just stand-ups eager to mock targets not named Trump or Tucker?
Fact Check Nation.
The Babylon Bee may be the most consistent victim of this faux journalistic scourge. The fake news site, openly Christian and right-leaning, has been battling so-called fact checkers for some time now.
And it’s not remotely funny. Fact checkers often align with social media giants like Facebook to dramatically reduce a post’s reach. That, in turn, can mean less revenue for the comic or company in question.
Need one cartoonishly silly example of how fact checkers torture The Bee?
The site published a story in 2018 with this headline: “CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washington Machine to Spin News Before Publication.”
Snopes.com rode to the rescue, giving this hard-hitting fake news item a serious look before declaring it fictitious. Facebook, in turn, briefly punished the Bee before backpedaling.
Mark Zuckerberg’s platform wasn’t done with the Bee, though. The site similarly got “fact checked” for other obviously satirical stories, like “Senator Hirono Demands ACB Be Weighed Against A Duck To See If She Is A Witch.” That silly story could “incite violence,” Facebook warned, which is even funnier than the actual satire.
Except, once again, the Bee worried it wouldn’t be able to use Facebook to share its stories and, by extension, keep the lights on.
It’s not just Snopes, though. Reuters fact-checked a Bee story entitled, “Pelosi Thanks Millions of Babies For Sacrificing Their Lives For Women’s Rights.”
Does The Onion suffer similar fact checks? This reporter reached out to the liberal faux news site in the past with that very question. No response.
More recently, Reuters saw fit to fact check a political meme mocking President Joe Biden, renowned for both his catastrophically low poll numbers and affinity for ice cream. The video clip featured Biden looking distracted as not a medical doctor but even more prestigious Dr. Jill Biden addressed a crowd.
Someone inserted ice cream truck music behind the clip, as if the Commander in Chief heard his favorite music and got distracted.
Enter the august news service, which made it abundantly clear the clip was altered.
Thank you, Fourth Estate.
Fact checkers now provide two distinct services. They play defense for prominent Democrats (no, Biden didn’t shake hands with an invisible person) and they do all they can to make sure those politicians aren’t the brunt of political satire.
Oh, and they also help convince even more people the mainstream press cannot be trusted.
The problem, alas, isn’t new. “SNL” proved so hands-off of President Barack Obama during his two terms that the show’s Obama impersonator, Jay Pharoah, once admitted the show “gave up on Obama.”
Yet when the show tweaked the president on those rare occasions both The Washington Post and CNN fact checked the skits. When was the last time an anti-Trump “SNL” sketch earned similar treatment?
The undeniable message? Satirists should train their comic fire in one direction: the Right. And if they don’t, our bold and brave fact checkers will seize, and pounce, to save the day.