The Associated Press is one of the largest purveyors of disinformation on Twitter. They simply repeat what Trump and other liars say, without any critical debunking of their lies. It’s not a stretch to say that the AP practices the opposite of journalism on Twitter, and last night’s “fact-check” sounded like it was written by Trump’s terrible speechwriter, Stephen Miller (side note: since it’s en vogue to critique fact-checkers now, check out our piece from September recapping how Jake Tapper, CNN and the other serious fact-checkers keep getting their “fact checks” wrong on Medicare for All by simply repeating Koch Brothers propaganda).
AP FACT CHECK: Democrats put the blame for the shutdown on Trump. But it takes two to tango. Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for his border wall is one reason for the budget impasse. The Democrats refusal to approve the money is another. https://t.co/9IWnqUgl2d— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) January 9, 2019
Instead of accepting blame for their mistake and correcting it, the AP dug in, because the seminal feature across all Very Serious Media is to never admit that you made a mistake because you're far too serious to ever screw up, and anyone who finds anything wrong with your journalistic product is a partisan hack.
Asked @AP about that much-criticized tweet promoting a fact-check on the shutdown and got this statement from a spox. https://t.co/B1ywSIWY4Dpic.twitter.com/tASfHjZW33— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 9, 2019
Both-sidesism is functionally a brain disease. Twitter had a lot to say about this patently absurd and anti-journalistic “fact-check” spat out by the AP, and here are some of the best tweets lampooning the AP's journalistic inadequacy.
Mugger: Give me $2 million.
Jogger: I don't have $2 million.
Mugger: shoots jogger
AP Fact Check: It takes two to tango.— Dave Hogg (@stareagle) January 9, 2019
AP fact check: pompeii residents too nice to volcano.— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) January 9, 2019
SOPAN FACT CHECK: I just tried it and can confirm that one can tango by oneself.— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) January 9, 2019
this isn't fact-checking, it's a weird centrist mind exercise— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) January 9, 2019
AP FACT CHECK: Leia put the blame for the destruction of Alderaan on Darth Vader. But it takes two to tango. Vader shooting a powerful superlaser at the planet is one reason it was destroyed. Leia's refusal to tell him where the Rebel base was is another. https://t.co/U1VKYr8HUF— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) January 9, 2019
This isn't a fact check. This is communicating the AP's point of view that demanding billions of dollars for an unrealistic wall and not conceding to that demand are moral equivalents, despite footage of the president saying he would take responsibility for the shutdown. https://t.co/t7v6wlfCi0— JuanPa (@jpbrammer) January 9, 2019
AP FACT CHECK: Occupants of Nakatomi Tower put the blame for the hostage situation on Hans Gruber. But it takes two to tango. Gruber's demand for $640 million bearer bonds is one reason for the standoff. John McClane's refusal to surrender is another. https://t.co/pmbVeVzi61— Randy Renstrom (@RandyRenstrom) January 9, 2019
A funny thing about the Pinocchio School of Fact-Checking is that it buys the Trumpian right wing's implicit premise that all truth is tribal. Thus, both sides are always the same, and "truth" is found only when you've balanced the amount of criticism being leveled at each party. https://t.co/FSRmzDr9ft— Jonathan M. Katz (@KatzOnEarth) January 9, 2019
"I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it … I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I'm going to shut it down for border security." — Donald Trump https://t.co/B6PKi0BY5C— Zach Carter (@zachdcarter) January 9, 2019
The bar put the blame on the fire on me. But it takes two to tango. My demand to “play some fucking good music or I burn this place down” is one reason for the fire. The bar's refusal to play Korn is another. https://t.co/IxxbZHS31X— Danny Page (@DannyPage) January 9, 2019
Fact check: FDR blames the Empire of Japan for the attack on Pearl Harbor, but it takes two to tango.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 9, 2019
FACT CHECK: Firefighters blame the arsonist for your house burning down. But it takes two to tango. The arsonist setting fire to your house is one reason for the fire. Houses being made of wood is another. https://t.co/hVqO3sMEob— netw3rk (@netw3rk) January 9, 2019
Police say John Wayne Gacy is responsible for the deaths of more than two dozen children. But it takes two to tango. Gacy's weapons are one reason for their deaths. But their choice to succumb to blunt force trauma is another. https://t.co/leCN4HKxWV— we're going to pass AVR (@SeanMcElwee) January 9, 2019
FACT CHECK: My parents put the blame for the “snakes incident” on me. But it takes two to tango. My demand for $4,000 for Chips Ahoy! and Sun Chips is one reason there are now eighteen pythons in the finished basement. My parents' refusal to approve the money is another.— Robinson Meyer (@yayitsrob) January 9, 2019
FACT CHECK: The LAPD blames retired bomb squad member Howard Payne for setting an explosive device on a bus, which will detonate if the bus goes below 50mph. But it takes two to tango. Payne wouldn't have set the bomb if his previous bomb plot hadn't been foiled by the LAPD. pic.twitter.com/iMtFXVCMgU— Lyz Lenz (@lyzl) January 9, 2019
AP FACT CHECK: Townspeople put the blame for the beach closure on the shark. But it takes two to tango. The shark's demand for 5.7 tons of human flesh is one reason for the beach impasse. The townspeople's refusal to relinquish this mortal coil is another. pic.twitter.com/Zp7RWNKkn0— Eric Allen Hatch (@ericallenhatch) January 9, 2019
hats off to the AP for creating this new experimental form of post-structuralist anti-journalism that finally, fully pushes the chronicling of human events past the boundary of cognition https://t.co/dtXg7iHVaR— Jason Linkins (@dceiver) January 9, 2019
AP FACT CHECK: The Autobots put the blame for Cybertron's destruction on Megatron. But it takes two to tango. Megatron's demand for total supremacy of the universe is one reason for the millennia-long war. Optimus Prime's refusal to die is another. https://t.co/2mbSogQhP4— (@tainkirrahe) January 9, 2019
AP FACT CHECK: The Allies put the blame for WWII on Hitler. But it takes two to tango. Hitler's demand for world domination and genocide of non-Aryans is one reason for WWII. The Allies' refusal to approve this is another. https://t.co/ftlAZOdRUY— Cas Mudde (@CasMudde) January 9, 2019
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.