The journalistic argument
The idea of a real-time verification is a mirage. Fact-checking is not going to dig up a number on Google and tell a statement whether it is true or false. Even with more resources (in 2018, at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, the PolitiFact site dreamed of an application that would instantly alert errors as soon as they are made), we cannot connect with the truth. Figures always vary depending on the sources and indicators.
The ethical argument
Fact-checking is often a way of clearing customs after having organized touting political debates or having allowed information to circulate. fake news on the Web. Thus, after the 2016 American elections, Facebook, accused of having been a vector for the propagation of false information, joined forces with around forty media outlets for a fact-checking device. But, above all, whenever a politician says anything, fact-checking offers a space of expression for his ideas.
The relativistic argument
It’s not facts that make people change their minds, but people who are like them. Fact-checking does not make it possible to fight against the dissemination of fake news, because it is only addressed to those who are convinced who come to consolidate themselves in what they already believed. Each camp thus chooses its “experts”. Lobbies and political parties are now circulating their figures in the form of scientific fact-checking.
The journalistic counter-argument
In a culture where journalism is sometimes confused with commentary, fact-checking sections have allowed a return to the fundamentals of the profession. So much the better if the new generations of journalists go through this school of fact-checking. The goal of fact-checking is to do pedagogy and to take an interest in sources. This can be an opportunity to popularize subjects, such as tax loopholes, social assistance or other questions that would not have been studied otherwise.
The ethical counter-argument
You can’t hand the microphone to people without confronting them with the truth. What do we prefer: that Eric Zemmour is only contradicted on only part of his remarks (the figures for immigration and exiles, but not his xenophobia) or that he is allowed to speak out his untruths without no reminder of the facts? We can’t just let it say anything. We must name the lies. It is not because the format is sometimes deviated that we should abandon the exercise.
The relativistic counter-argument
The Covid-19 epidemic has proven that many misconceptions are circulating. We cannot give up countering them on the pretext that the most convinced are desperate to find information that proves them right. Fact-checking will not change the mind of the flyer or the passionate activist, but it can give their loved ones arguments for debate. If no one sticks to this thankless exercise, no data will be available to someone who, in good faith, seeks to know what is going on.