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Snopes Exposed? Snopes Got 'Snoped'? Not So Much

Netlore Archive: Biased sources want you to believe Snopes.com is biased



Viral text alleges that the urban legend debunking site Snopes.com is 'owned by a flaming liberal' who is 'in the tank for Obama' and can't be trusted to provide unbiased information.

Description: Viral text / Email rumor
Circulating since: Oct. 2008
Status: Unsubstantiated (see details below)

See also: The Obama / Kagan / Snopes Connection

Rumor example:
Email text contributed by Elliott F., Oct. 20, 2008:

Subject: Snopes under fire


Snopes under fire

I have suspected some problems with Snopes for some time now, but I have only caught them in half-truths. If there is any subjectivity they do an immediate full left rudder.

Truth or fiction.com <http://truthorfiction.com/> is the better source for verification, in my opinion.

I have recently discovered that Snopes.com is owned by a flaming liberal and this man is in the tank for Obama. There are many things they have listed on their site as a hoax and yet you can go to Youtube yourself and find the video of Obama actually saying these things. So you see, you cannot and should not trust Snopes.com.... ever for anything that remotely resembles truth! I don't even trust them to tell me if email chains are hoaxes anymore.

A few conservative speakers on Myspace told me about snopes.com <http://snopes.com/> a few months ago and I took it upon myself to do a little research to find out if it was true. Well, I found out for myself that it is true. This website is backing Obama and is covering up for him. They will say anything that makes him look bad is a hoax and they also tell lies on the other side about McCain and Palin.

Anyway just FYI please don't use Snopes.com anymore for fact checking and make your friends aware of their political leanings as well. Many people still think Snopes.com is neutral and they can be trusted as factual. We need to make sure everyone is aware that that is a hoax in itself.

Analysis: It apparently never occurred to this anonymous emailer to cite even one actual instance of Snopes.com promulgating "half-truths" or "lies" under the guise of providing reliable information. So much for credibility (the emailer's, I mean).

(UPDATE: See debunked examples of alleged Snopes.com bias in the "Bud Gregg incident" discussed later in this article, and in Snopes' handling of rumors claiming that Elena Kagan represented Obama in cases challenging his Constitutional legitimacy before she was appointed to the Supreme Court.)

It's doubly ironic that an attack like this should be mounted against the oldest and most respected fact-checking site on the Internet at the denouement of an election year (2008) marked from beginning to end by unrestrained smear-mongering, much of which it fell to Snopes.com to debunk.

Let's examine the accusations.

  • CLAIM: Snopes.com is owned by 'a flaming liberal' with a partisan bias.

    First off, it's clear that whoever wrote this piece made it up as they went along. Anyone who has spent even a few minutes browsing Snopes.com knows that the website is owned by two people, not one, husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson of southern California. This is stated on the website and has been common knowledge since the website's inception.

    Second, the charge of partisanship is laid without evidence. At no time have the Mikkelsons publicly stated a political preference or affiliation, or expressed support for any particular party or candidate.

    Moreover, Barbara Mikkelson is a Canadian citizen, and as such cannot vote in U.S. elections or contribute to political campaigns. In a statement provided to FactCheck.org, David Mikkelson said his "sole involvement in politics" is voting on election day. In 2000 he registered as a Republican, documents provided to FactCheck.org show, and in 2008 Mikkelson didn't declare a party affiliation at all. Says Mikkelson: "I've never joined a party, worked for a campaign, or donated money to a candidate" (source: FactCheck.org).

    Anyone who claims proof to the contrary needs to come out with it.

  • A NOTE ON GEORGE SOROS: A later variant of this rumor alleges, without evidence, that Snopes.com is owned and/or financed by liberal philanthropist and hedge fund tycoon George Soros. This is false. Snopes.com is entirely self-supporting through advertising sales.

    Each time I've been confronted with this claim I've asked for evidence of any kind demonstrating a financial connection between Snopes and Soros. No one has ever provided it, much less a coherent argument as to why we should even suppose such a connection exists.

  • CLAIM: Snopes.com is 'in the tank for Obama' and 'tells lies' about Republicans.

    You'd think it would be easy for someone so blithely asserting that the owners of Snopes.com are "flaming liberals" to offer evidence that they're "in the tank" for Obama and "covering up" for him. None is provided.

    As of this writing dozens of viral texts about Obama and his running mate have been analyzed on Snopes.com, each meticulously researched with copious references cited. I've perused them all, not to mention the dozens of rumors they've covered about Obama's Republican counterparts, and found no discernible pattern of bias or deception, nor any evidence of advocacy for or against any particular party or political persuasion. To the contrary, I see a consistent effort to provide even-handed analyses of texts which more often than not are themselves dripping with bias and acrimony.

    That's my assessment as a longtime competitor of Snopes.com who has been called upon to investigate many of these same rumors and can boast a better-than-average familiarity with the subject matter. I invite you to make your own.

  • CLAIM: TruthorFiction.com is less biased more reliable than Snopes.

    Ironically, TruthorFiction.com has refuted these attacks against Snopes.com and, in point of fact, lauds the site as an "excellent" and "authoritative" resource.

    A further irony is that when you compare the contents of the two sites their findings rarely diverge in any substantive way. Shouldn't we therefore conclude that TruthorFiction.com is just as biased as Snopes?

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