Looking Over the Fact-Checkers' Framing Fix Regarding Ketanji Brown Jackson

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

On the cusp of her confirmation vote, let’s look over how the fact-checkers rigged the coverage of Ketanji Brown Jackson.

In my daily Townhall column where I cover the media malpractice, I noted a number of ways the press was all-in with their support of President Biden’s SCOTUS replacement, Ketanji Brown Jackson. The entirety of their focus was in lockstep support of the White House messaging during the confirmation process.


It began with the uniform coverage of Senator Josh Hawley revealing KBJ’s judicial history of leniency towards sex offenders, with a long record of depleted sentences for offenders found guilty. I listed off numerous examples of news outlets all running the same analysis, calling his findings “misleading,” like a flock of media Mina Birds. The very next day, the White House fed the line that the Republicans were pandering to a Qanon base with their allegedly abusive questions, and the press corps followed right along, repeating the very same message.

(Related: I did a takedown of the outlets desperately adhering to this Qanon charge on a recent Lie-Able Sources podcast.)

One other way the press took a position of support for KBJ was with their fact-checking adjunct. In very revealing detail, when looking over the approach to the hearings by these journalistic truth detectors you see a blatant pattern emerge. The various outlets all engaged in the same methodology; the GOP was uniformly addressed by these experts, and Jackson was not the focus of their stated job description.

Beginning with the Associated Press, the syndicate took out three fact-checks during the hearings. Here are the headlines from the three AP fact-checks on the confirmation: 

Republicans Skew Jackson’s Record

Republicans Twist Jackson’s Judicial Record

Senators Misrepresent Jackson On Abortion

Next, we look over at FactCheck.org, and they too gave a trio of corrections, all directed at the items brought up by the GOP senators. She was excused from Hawley’s findings on child porn sentencing, cleared of involvement with Critical Race Theory and sentencing, and on the matter of her representing Gitmo detainees, all this outlet manages to do is repeat what was spoken in the hearing and give some historical details absent any judgment. It closed with Patrick Leahy praising Brown, and then a lengthy passage of her response.


On the Gitmo issue, however, CNN’s Daniel Dale did make a judgment, and it was as daft as one might expect. In representing the detainees, Jackson charged numerous rights violations took place, holding the government culpable. Dale’s contention is that Lindsey Graham was wrong to state that she characterized George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld as war criminals. This, despite the fact I showed that in her filed amicus brief she directly states war crimes took place — and both Bush and Rumsfeld were the named respondents. 

In this photo taken on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, sculptor Tuck Langland stands behind his work during the installation of a bronze Ernie Pyle statute outside Franklin Hall at Indiana Univ

Next, over at PolitiFact, they have a dozen fact checks on KBJ, and ALL of them are addressing either questions from Republicans or accusations about the justice found on social media. None of those concern comments made by Jackson. All range from Mostly False, to False, to Pants on Fire. In one case, they bickered over a FaceBook post that declared — accurately, mind you — that the KBJ hearing was not featured on the news networks live like Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing had been. The lone exception on their list is assessing the war crimes issue, giving the accurate statement a Half True rating.

Snopes merely gave a brief overview of the hearing, where it asserted the Republicans “interrogated” Jackson, “accused” her of things, “labeled” her, and “attempted to frame her.” Snopes also trotted the approved assessment of the questioning from the GOP.

The attention on Jackson’s rulings in child pornography cases …may have also winked at members of a particular strain within the Republican Party with QAnon-adjacent beliefs.   


Snopes has also lamely addressed a key issue in her confirmation – Did she appear in a drama with actor Matt Damon, while they both attended Harvard?! This is not only deeply irrelevant, it also is not a fact-check; the site has this showing with an inconclusive Work In Progress rating. But hey, I bet that entry on a hot topic with a Hollywood star in the headline roped in a few clickbait suckers.

Great work, you dedicated seekers of the truth, you really got to the bottom of the mysteries of this SCOTUS hearing – just how mean are those Republicans???


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