OPINION | Taylor Swift doesn't owe you her political opinions on Trump
Pro-Hillary Clinton news site fills a media need, but misses the mark
The notion that all published and broadcast news is real, unbiased and thoroughly verified seems like a no-brainer. Many of us spent the early part of our lives taking such authentication for granted.
Didn't we all assume that we were ahead of the game by keeping ourselves informed? We learned to respect the seriousness of journalism as we watched our parents warm up the black and white TV minutes before tuning in nightly to David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner.
When Cronkite ended each news broadcast with "And that's the way it is" we knew that, indeed, what he'd just told us was the way it, in fact, was. We never had reason or cause to question it.
The launch of a left-leaning media company that promotes itself as citing only verified news is a mixed bag. While there is a desperate need for verified news to be easily recognized and trusted, it needs to be an across-the-board non-partisan project in order to be taken seriously as a trusted, oft-cited brand.
If the problem is "fake news" then the solution is verified news. All news.
It appears Verrit.com is more of a resource for news operations than an actual news site itself, which means it has enormous value and utility. Verrit is supposed to "collect and contextualize noteworthy quotes, stats, and facts for politically engaged citizens." You can visit the site and see social-media friendly cards with facts or quotes with a verification code for each item. In time, that code can become a trusted seal of approval if it is consistent and mistake-free.
Unlike the myriad of fact-checking sites, it provides the goodies up front, rather than finding the mistakes, lies and fake news after the fact. Verrit.com Founder and CEO Peter Daou, a former advisor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign understood the critical need to offer up something that credibly fights fake news. It's a smart idea. A valuable public service, even. But it only gets the job half-done if it only works to help clarify what's real or fake on the left and mostly for the left and to benefit the left.
"Introducing Verrit: Media for the 65.8 million" makes it pretty clear the target audience is Hillary Clinton voters, and journalists needing accessible information. The other side seems to be stuck with Breitbart, InfoWars and Hannity.
Candidate Donald Trump proudly proclaimed that he loved the "poorly-educated" and embraced them as his own. He understood his advantage in feeding misinformation and fake news to those he was confident didn't know any better. While a significant portion of his fan base doesn't care to be better informed, wouldn't it make sense to peel off enough of them with a degree of intellectual curiosity to elevate our political discourse?
More than mere fact-checking, Daou is pushing the good stuff out there to be used - the quotes, the highlights, the reach back historical references. I suspect a lot of political speeches, letters, press releases and college term papers will be highly dependent on Verrit.com.
I've no doubt the verification and citations available on Verrit.com will become trusted by many. But for greater credibility and the greater good, not to mention greater success, it needs to be the go-to source for anyone and everyone looking to get it right.
Perhaps it's not exactly a realistic expectation that a Democrat operative with a great idea would want to focus on more than helping his own party - at least initially. I think a cogent argument can be made that everyone benefits from getting it right, and that "country before party" can, and should, include doing what's necessary to swiftly eradicate the relevancy of the term "fake news" from our vocabulary like the polio vaccine did a couple of generations ago. Verrit.com just may be able to make some inroads.
"And that's the way it is" will stick whether we like the information or not. And that's a good thing.
Cheri Jacobus is a former congressional staffer, RNC spokesperson and political consultant. Follow her on Twitter @CheriJacobus.
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