The BBC sides with Palmer Report, removes link to faulty Snopes fact check

On April 15th the BBC published an online article which incorrectly asserted that Palmer Report had “falsely suggested that President Trump profited from the US missile strikes in Syria,” which it based on a fact check Snopes. Today the BBC has informed Palmer Report that it made a mistake, and that it has now removed the incorrect claim about Palmer Report. Furthermore, the BBC has removed the link to the faulty Snopes fact check entirely.

This does not come as a surprise. On April 7th, Palmer Report correctly reported that Donald Trump owns stock in Raytheon, the company which makes Tomahawk missiles (link). We based this conclusion by combining a 2015 report from Business Insider confirming that he owned Raytheon stock at the time (link) and the fact that there’s no evidence he’s since sold the stock, as the sale of a stock leaves a paper trail and there is no such paper trail.

Snopes then published a “fact check” of our article which presented essentially no new evidence of its own, but nonetheless assigned us an “Unproven” rating, based on nothing more than the notion that it’s theoretically possible Trump may have sold the stock and that no one knows about it. In other words, our article was correct, and Snopes invented a hypothetical technicality as an excuse to weigh in on it. We’re still confused as to what an “Unproven” rating is supposed to mean, and why a fact checking outlet would bother to weigh in on a news outlet’s reporting just to state that it doesn’t know anything.

Today the BBC wrote to Palmer Report to inform us that the link to the Snopes fact check article in question had been removed entirely. In the original version of the BBC article, the incorrect claim about Palmer Report and the Snopes link were in the fourth sentence, which you can still view on archive.org (link). In the newly revised version of the BBC article, the fourth sentence has been deleted entirely, along with a note at the bottom explaining that the sentence has been deleted (link).

We’re confused as to why this keeps happening. So far this year Snopes has published fact checks on articles from hundreds of news outlets, and some of those outlets are routinely slapped with “False” ratings. In contrast Palmer Report is a respected news outlet whose articles are regularly posted and shared by everyone from cable news hosts to members of the U.S. Congress (see our About page). Yet each time Snopes staffers conduct an interview with a reporter, they make sure the reporter ends up focusing on Palmer Report instead of on the news outlets that Snopes itself has rated as being far less accurate.

This happened when Snopes spoke to the BBC last week, and it also happened when Snopes spoke with The Atlantic in February. The author of The Atlantic article has since privately apologized to Palmer Report three different times for his own failure to follow basic journalistic guidelines, but has yet to revise his article accordingly, a matter we’re still pursuing.

Further, the interviews that Snopes is conducting with these news outlets tend to center around the “fake news” phenomenon. And yet Snopes consistently pushes Palmer Report front and center in these interviews, despite the fact that Snopes keeps its own running list of “fake news” sites and Palmer Report is not on it (link). So why would Snopes even be mentioning Palmer Report in these interviews about fake news? Why isn’t Snopes instead pushing any of the sites that it classifies as fake news?

We don’t know precisely why Snopes keeps doing this. But its overzealousness in trying to cast Palmer Report in a negative light during these interviews has been so misleading that it’s now resulted in The Atlantic privately apologizing and the BBC publicly issuing a correction. For the sake of its own reputation, we call on Snopes to stop inappropriately inserting Palmer Report into interviews about fake news. We also call on Snopes to do a better job in its fact checking and move on from publishing faulty, misleading, pointless “fact check” articles that do nothing other than cast baseless theoretical aspersions on solid reporting, backed up by nothing more than a meaningless “Unproven” rating. Meanwhile the most respected fact check outlets, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, have never once taken issue with any Palmer Report article โ€“ and we’re proud of that fact.

Bill Palmer is the founder and editor in chief of the political news outlet Palmer Report

16 Comments

  1. Claudia Groh on April 20, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Good work!!
    ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  2. Emme Rasmussen on April 20, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Is it possible that Snopes, or someone who works for Snopes is friends with someone who sees your reporting as a threat to her credibility? There are some egos on Twitter, and I can think of a few innocent posters who’ve annoyed and even angered one or two “professionals” who see themselves as THE News Leaders. The Elite.

    I think your informative tweets and links have shown more than once that these *elite* are not the only ones capable of intelligent investigation.

  3. mary milburn on April 20, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Hey I put that together too and sent it to you ! I have some interesting stuff I would like to send to you. need to friend me

  4. Marianne Kirk on April 20, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    I used to respect Snopes and direct people to them but not anymore. Something has changed there; too bad.

  5. Sandra koob on April 20, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    I’ve heard others are having Snopes problems and are not to be believed on all account. They even went so far as calling Snopes Right with fake fact checking.

  6. DM Bowman on April 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    This bothered me: so, I sent Snopes an email that told them I have stopped using their site with the http to this story.

    You know, we don’t need our fact checkers leading the conversations.

  7. Rose Meade on April 21, 2017 at 12:43 am

    I smell a rat in the Snopes. Could it be that Palmer Report has hit the nail on the head so many times that Snopes might be jealous or there is a spoiled fish inside of Snopes? Just to make you look bad and scare away all your trusted follower’s. After all the months, Palmer Report has been spot on about what’s been going on and now—-this!! Maybe WE need to start looking at Snopes and wonder if they are right on with their information. Start playing “doubting Thomas” with them, and get a different source.

  8. Charmaine Keller on April 21, 2017 at 3:00 am

    Congratulations, Bill.

  9. Justin Sayin on April 21, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Just deleted Snopes from my bmarks and will never ref the site again.

  10. John Shafer on April 21, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Is it possible the Russian hackers have found a way to take over/influence Snopes with fake news leads ?

    • Bill Palmer on April 22, 2017 at 12:48 am

      There’s no evidence of that. I don’t want to start casting unfounded aspersions on Snopes, just because they keep casting unfounded aspersions on me.

    • Dianne Needles on April 23, 2017 at 2:11 am

      That thought just crossed my mind, too. Weird stuff going on in social media and internet.

  11. Melanie Lee on April 21, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I enjoy your articles and re-post them continuously. Then they get re-posted and re-posted!. Last week I had a FB ‘friend’, (now a former friend) claim yours was fake news, not only did I come down on him, but quite a few on my friends did too.He was run out on the ‘virtual rail’!

  12. Wendy on April 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Good job getting the correction. I do know that Snopes attempts to verify stories that people send it as potentially false. If you are repeatedly showing up on their radar, then there’s a good possibility that a Trump supporter (or ally) is sending them links they want “verified”. I do know that “unproven” merely means “unable to verify”. In other words, Trump hasn’t said he owns the Raytheon stock and Wall Street insiders haven’t com forward to say it’s still in his portfolio. But, the BBC’s integrity dropped considerably if they took “unproven” to mean “untrue”.

    • Bill Palmer on April 22, 2017 at 12:42 am

      “Unproven” means that there is no reason for a “fact check” to be published. It’s an attempt at falsely casting generic doubt on the validity of the original reporting, in order to invent phony controversy and generate page views out of it. There’s a reason you don’t see any other major fact checking sites publishing nonsensical “Unproven” ratings; they’re not chasing cheap and easy page views.

  13. Lucy Rodriguez on April 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    You do a great job, and are more informative than the main stream media outlets. Your integrity and honor shine through your writing. I think envy is a foot, as they should be, because you haven’t been wrong yet, and are always miles ahead of the rest. Just keeping doing what you do best, and thank you!

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