Political fact checkers — useful as pet rocks

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The current spate of new political fact-checking outfits is symptomatic of the steep decline of quality journalism in Australia, writes Ross Jones.

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PUBLISHING FOR BUCKS is a pressure caper where the overarching need is to feed the monster.  And when it comes to political fact checking companies, the monster is the contract to supply under resourced newsrooms with easy copy. 800 words of kick-arse analysis backed up by a graphic that was dragged, wires and all, from the dashboard of your grandad’s EH.

Mainly true. Sort of true. Pants on fire! An easy optic grab for people who can’t read. The motive being profit.

I’m over pandering to idiots and this new parasitic breed do just that. Their supposed deep analysis of every step, or misstep, taken by those who seek the imprint of your ink-stained finger is ‒ in the scheme of things ‒ too little, too late and too facile.

And it’s kind of grubby.

The whole phenomena has sort of snuck its way into the death-throes of a dying parliament; an electronic ibis feeding on the almost-carrion of those in the headlights. Or, given its U.S. origins — buzzard.

Run this one through the WTF-O-Meter

Where were these self-styled paragons of political righteousness when we needed them? No, where are they where we need them? Brough, Sinodinos, Pyne? There’s a few pants on fire right there. Arthur’s apparent forgetfulness, particularly. And his mates.

Instead, we get franchised ideas and reactive analysis. No questions, no confrontation — just meek, desk-bound retrospective ersatz analysis. Nit-picking. One per cent or two? Ummm … mainly wrong!

Really, if you don’t know politicians lie and distort the truth then voting is not for you. And if you need a badly-drawn fuel gauge to assist your democratic decision making, well …

In this election, particularly, we are stepping up to the plate. OFFence and DEEfence. Rudd State V Abbott U. The Truth-O-Meter sounds like a pre-WW1 Coney Island amusement, the kind of idea that was transplanted to Luna Park with such spectacular success.

And history might repeat.

Fairfax took the bait and did a deal with a Florida-based outfit. It now happily runs naff graphics and a web link instead of copy.

Here’s a quiz — name a Fairfax journo you believe. Okay, Jessica Wright and Jonathan Swan, maybe — but Kate McClymont? Peter Hartcher? I don’t think so.

It’s not apparent the Murdoch media has ever given a fig for the truth — apart from the detail of a rape or murder or other human tragedy.

Like nature, American enterprise abhors a vacuum. When it sees one, it moves straight in.

Drive-Thru truth is a market waiting to be had.

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