Fact-Checking the “Fact-Checkers”: Snopes & Politifact Said I’m a Big Fat Liar, But Let’s Look at THEIR “Facts”
by Daisy Luther
Last weekend when I wrote about the new bills that were turned into law in California by a mercifully-departing Governor Jerry Brown, I never expected a hub-bub. I did my research, came to some conclusions, and titled my article, “Now It’s Illegal to Have a Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day.” That’s the link if you want to read it first. Fact-checkers Snopes and Politifact said I was a big fat liar, but let’s take a look at their “facts,” shall we?
Contrary to popular belief, no kittens were sacrificed to the devil in the writing of that article. I just sat down, did a little research, and came to some conclusions that in my eyes were (and still are) entirely reasonable. However, Snopes and Politifact disagreed rather vehemently. (About the conclusions, not the kittens. The kittens actually were a figment of my imagination, unlike anything in the article they “debunked.”)
Now, before I get into fact-checking these so-called fact-checkers, let me tell you a quick personal story. Writing controversial content can be a wee bit stressful sometimes.
When the mainstream picks up on what you’ve written, you can expect a lot of hate mail. Most of it is of the generic, “you’re an idiot” style but there are always a few overachievers.
I’d like to send out my very best wishes to the guy who hopes that my daughters and I get locked in a basement and die of thirst. You’re a stellar human being. Almost as nice as the guy who believes it would be my just desserts if I were to drown in all the water I want to waste. I guess he missed my best-selling book that has an entire freaking chapter on water conservation. And to the woman who told me that I work for the Russians and probably, in fact, actually LIVE in Russia, please, if you know them, could you let them know I have not yet received my payment? Thanks. You’re a peach.
Anyhow, I digress. Back to the so-called fact-checkers.
Ah, Snopes. The weapon of the uninformed who proudly post a link as a rebuttal and give it the same weight they would if the Good Lord himself had dipped his pen in golden ink and written the piece for Snopes himself.
Well, I won’t even get into the fact that it is actually not the Good Lord who writes for Snopes. It’s pretty easy to research the divorced couple who does the so-called “debunking.” Let’s just talk about their “fact check.”
The first thing I’d like to point out is that the so-called fact-checkers credited the story to Zero Hedge, who republished my article, accurately giving credit to my website. Somehow, they missed the very first line which linked to their source. Huh. Good work, fact checkers.
Let’s also note they described Zero Hedge as a “conspiratorial website.” That isn’t biased at all, right? Snopes is clearly a beacon of the impartial truth. They cited a response from the creators of the bills:
Jim Metropulos, legislative director for California State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) who authored 1668, told us the legislation sets water efficiency goals for water districts and municipalities on the territorial level, but it does not regulate what individual Californians or businesses can and can’t do: “There is nothing in this bill to target households or companies. Water use objectives are on territory-level of a water agency. There is nothing regulating the time a person may shower or when they may or may not do laundry.” (The “penalty of up to $1,000 per day” for excessive water use referenced in many alarmist articles on this subject applies to “urban retail water suppliers,” not to individual customers.)
Okay – I will grant them that it does not specifically say that people can’t shower and do laundry on the same day. But it does limit the water usage to 55 gallons per person per day, which according to my calculations will exceed the allotment if one should take an 8-minute shower and use anything other than a brand new high-efficiency washing machine. As for the fines, the thousand dollar amount is the minimum listed in the bill and the suppliers are the ones billed. But if you think for one moment that they’re just going to eat that thousand bucks when people go over their limit, I propose that you are delusional.
In no way did their debunkery debunk anything except for the fact that I drew a well-researched conclusion based on the wording of the bill.
Anyway, then Snopes asks you to donate to them to help pay for the battle against misinformation. Maybe if you did, they could hire someone literate.
I had higher hopes for Politifact, spurred on by the fact that they actually figured out where the article originated and contacted me for a comment.
Dear Ms. Luther,
My name is Bill McCarthy and I am a staff writer for PolitiFact. I am writing a fact-check on a quick deadline this afternoon about the claim that new California water management laws have made it illegal to shower and do laundry on the same day. On your website, The Organic Prepper, you wrote an article with the following headline:
“Now It’s Against the Law in California to Shower and Do Laundry on the Same Day.”
I am researching this claim independently but wanted to reach out to you for comment. Is there any evidence to support your claim that is not listed in your story? Also, can you tell me where you got your numbers for water usage during an average shower and laundry load?
If you would like to comment, please respond by 3 p.m., as I will be finishing my report by then.
Thank you for your consideration.
I responded promptly.
Hi, Bill – thanks for contacting me. I check your website often when working on an article so that I can get a thorough picture of different sides of a wide variety of issues.
I’m happy to explain where I came up with my numbers.
I used the following links:
Water for doing laundry with an older washer: https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/clothes-washer
Water to take a shower for 8 minutes: https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/showers
Water to run the dishwasher: https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/dishwasher
Water for a bathtub: https://structuretech1.com/is-your-water-heater-large-enough-for-your-bathtub/
Clearly, people can find ways to use more or less water, but these were averages that seemed to be consistent throughout the different places I searched.
Then, I just did a calculation. If one is allotted 55 gallons of water, and a shower takes 17 gallons of water and a load of laundry takes 40 gallons, you’ve used 57 gallons and exceeded your daily allowance of water. I try to make things applicable to my readers instead of vague concepts and was quite surprised when the comparison took off in the media the way it did.
I hope this is helpful. Thank you again for reaching out, and please feel free to do so any time.
Then I went about my day, feeling a brief – very brief – glow of vindication. Because, I had shown them my calculations, my sources for the calculations, and had been quite professional. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ll bet you know where this is going.
The only way they could have given me a lower rating would be if they’d said my pants were on fire on the Truth-o-meter, which is, in fact, one of their ratings. So, I mean, there’s that.
They pointed out that Facebook, with whom they partner, had flagged my article as “part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on Facebook’s News Feed.” And speaking of Facebook, they posted this message over the Zero Hedge republication of my article when someone tried to share it:
Politifact pointed out all the websites which had cited, republished, or referred to the premise in my article, including U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes.
Politifact concluded that residents won’t be penalized at all for exceeding their rations.
Under the new legislation, Californians will not actually be penalized on an individual basis for excessive water use.
In reality, the bills stipulate that cities, water districts and large agricultural water districts must come up with budgetary targets for water use by 2022. They will then need to meet their targets across their ratepayer bases, with failure to do so resulting in a fine of $1,000 per day or $10,000 per day during drought emergencies.
George Kostyrko, director of the office of public affairs for the State Water Resources Control Board, told us the water districts will be guided in their target-setting by three standards, one of which is the allowance of 55 gallons per capita per day for indoor residential water use — a number that will drop to 50 gallons by 2030. The other standards, both yet to be determined, will place similar caps on outdoor residential water use and water loss due to system leaks.
And again, I call BS on their conclusion that the water districts and cities will not pass on these fines to the consumers. Oh, wait, they alluded to the slim possibility that the cost would be passed on.
Fines based on consumption will actually be administered to the water agencies that fail to meet their targets, rather than individuals who use too much water on a given day. And while a water district could theoretically let those costs shift to individual water bills, any increase in costs assumed by ratepayers would be closer to a few bucks than $1,000.
Then they leap to some conclusions of their own.
For the record, it is also worth noting that washing machines are more efficient than they used to be, which calls into question some of the water-use estimates mentioned in the false reports…
…But most people now own high-efficiency laundry machines that use between 15 and 30 gallons per wash, according to Home Water Works. And since it is the average water use per capita that matters, one person’s reliance on an older machine would likely be offset by other residents who are not using so much water.
Most people? That seems kind of shady for a fact-checker. I read the page they cited half a dozen times and could not find that assertion.
Even if it was true in other parts of the country, I’d still say, not “most” people in California. No one can afford diddly in California because the bills are insanely high, you’re taxed to death, and the government there fees and fines you into poverty. I lived there for 5 years in a series of rentals and never once had a high-efficiency machine provided. I contacted 5 friends who live there still and one of the 5 had a high-efficiency machine. I realize that this is not exactly an official survey but it’s just as official as Politifact’s assumption that “most” folks have those types of machines.
To sum it up, Politifact used a variety of sources to rebut the article and belittled the sources with whom they didn’t agree. Congressman Nunes, Breitbart, The Federalist Papers, Fox News, and of course my own site, were said to be publishing “false reports” while other sources such as the offices of members of the California Congress who wrote the bills were deemed more credible for no other reason than their authorship. Which, let’s face it, is going to be biased.
Their “facts” are no more “factual” than mine. It’s merely an interpretation of information that they purport carries more weight because they call themselves “fact-checkers.”
The good thing that came out of this.
I’ve been pretty vocal about the entire situation when speaking with friends of mine who aren’t as into current events. They’ve found it interesting to watch the circus from my perspective, and a couple of friends made comments that made the whole thing worthwhile:
I didn’t used to believe there was such a slant with the news before Trump started talking about “fake news” (a term I despise, by the way.) But there is most definitely an agenda. It becomes more clear each day. I only hope that by you fighting back with truth, a few will start to notice there is more common ground than they previously believed. We can hope, can’t we?
Now you see how media manipulates things, like really, like this… how easily it can be twisted, how you can make it look like anyone said or did anything…. yeah
It’s pretty awesome that some folks are seeing the Orwellian way that the mainstream media works. Hopefully, quite a few more people will start to see the whole picture as well.
The inmates are running the asylum. The people who claim to be “fact-checkers” are certainly not better researchers than me or my fellow bloggers at Zero Hedge, The Federalist Papers, SHTFplan, and The Economic Collapse Blog. We’re all human beings who look at the world from our own unique perspectives. The problem is, they’re given more credibility and people aren’t truly given accurate information from which they can glean the truth.
Less discerning readers are being spoonfed an opinion which is flavored as fact, but most of us know that the truth is never quite that simple. They are being told what to believe and what not to believe and the people who lean on those sites or already have a preconceived bias don’t see this fact-checking baloney as the propaganda tool that it is.
It’s wildly Orwellian in that we have an actual Ministry of Truth that is anything but truthful. While there’s still “freedom of speech” in America, we have people literally telling us what to believe and the propaganda machine runs roughshod over anyone who dares voice dissent.
Well, see ya, Politifact and Snopes. I’ll just be over here in my House of Lies, You know where to reach me if you need further comments to ignore and ridicule.
About the Author
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menagerie. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.