The Washington Post‘s executive fact-checker on Monday made a number of bold assertions involving a fellow journalist. "Always great to hang out with the brilliant and talented @TaylorLorenz," Glenn Kessler wrote on Twitter, the social networking platform, "a terrific addition to the @washingtonpost staff." The tweet included a photo of the two journalists posing in pandemic-era face masks and casual business attire.
Kessler's comments are worth unpacking with an aim toward enlightening readers who rely on our expertise. As the Post‘s chief arbiter of truth, Kessler has established himself as a cultural influencer who drives the conversation both within the Beltway and beyond. His words should be taken seriously as well as literally. Anyone who practices journalism, one of America's most noble professions, carries a burden of great responsibility.
The Washington Free Beacon will never stop holding members of the media to account. A rigorous standard is necessary to ensure they don't abuse their power by peddling misinformation to vulnerable American consumers. When no one else has the courage to fact-check the fact-checker, we will. Please enjoy the following thoughtful analysis.
CLAIM #1: "Always great to hang out with … Taylor Lorenz."
VERDICT: Not credible. Because in the attached photo we are unable to see the expression on either journalist's face, a more decisive assessment is not possible at this time. The evidence we do have suggests Kessler is exaggerating at best. Lorenz is obsessed with the internet. She has a history of lying about her age and partying with teens. As several of her colleagues have observed, she says a lot of "cringey" things like "I'm the most online reporter that you can find" and "Younger people recognize the power of having their own brand." She wears a brand-name N95 mask and keeps the thermostat at 87 degrees. She might be a lizard person. Those aren't traits one typically associates with a "great" hang.
CLAIM #2: "Brilliant and talented."
VERDICT: Insufficient evidence. When making such a bold assertion in a public forum one has a moral obligation to provide supporting evidence. Kessler neglected to do so in this case, which suggests he knows the statement to be false. That's not necessarily a crime; he wasn't under oath. Nevertheless, given his role as a professional fact-checker it seems reasonable to assume a nefarious motive. Misinformation is the single greatest threat to our democracy. In this case, Kessler has misrepresented his personal opinion as a statement of objective fact. That's dangerous. Even if it were technically true—which it's not—the fact-checker's words might be seized upon by Facebook grannies and other social media users to promote their political agenda.
CLAIM #3: "A terrific addition to the Washington Post."
VERDICT: Missing crucial context. This is another example of Kessler peddling misinformation by exploiting the American's public inability to distinguish true fact from subjective opinion. He neglected to explain the metrics by which he has assessed Lorenz to be a "terrific addition" to the Post, and declined to consider the dissenting views of other journalists who despise her self-promotional approach to brand-focused influencing.
New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, for example, did not appreciate Lorenz publicly dissing the Times for failing to allow "influencer journalists" to build their brands. "Is there something going on in the world other than the desire of some folks to get more attention?" Haberman wrote in early March, referring to Russia's recently launched invasion of Ukraine. Lorenz, who worked at the Times before joining the Post earlier this year, reportedly called Haberman a "bitch" for questioning her obsessive coverage of a 15-year-old's social media posts.
FINAL RATING: 3½ CLINTONS