In response to a news release, with accompanying videos, from the LDS Church on Utah’s alcohol control policies, City Weekly published an article claiming to “fact check” the church statement. Reading through the article, the odd thing about it is that it didn’t really contain much fact checking. Rather, it reads more like a list of complaints about how the news release didn’t say what City Weekly wanted it to say. Let’s take City Weekly’s “fact checks” in turn.
“Fact check” No. 1: “Utah laws are ‘perhaps’ the reason why there are so few alcohol problems”
In one video, the church suggested that “perhaps the most important” factor in Utah’s low alcohol-related traffic deaths per capita are the state’s alcohol control laws. Note the word “perhaps,” suggesting one possibility or communicating that this is a statement of opinion.
Most reasonable people would read or hear that and realize that it was a suggestion or statement of opinion, not a definitive or factual statement. City Weekly, on the other hand, evidently felt compelled to “fact check” this statement, which amounted to providing a dissenting opinion from another organization…which of course is not fact-checking at all since opinion is not fact, no facts are being disputed, and no facts are being offered to correct any misstatement of fact. Maybe City Weekly wanted to remind people that there are various opinions on the question of why Utah’s alcohol-related traffic deaths per capita is so exceptional. But to call that “fact-checking” would be, ironically, factually inaccurate.
“Fact check” No. 2: “Only jerks weird-shame Utah for its liquor laws”
The second complaint … sorry, “fact check” … that City Weekly wrote about was that the figure in a church video representing opposition to Utah’s alcohol laws did not have a face. The “fact check” is that “the voices calling for changes to Utah laws aren’t just faceless whiners b_____ about Utah’s liquor laws.” The article then went on to put faces, names, and/or affiliations to some of those “faceless whiners.”
Presumably, City Weekly would have the church video point out a specific person or group in its video, like City Weekly does in its “fact check.” However, this would also be a factually inaccurate representation of the “Zion Wall” opponents since it doesn’t fully represent all the voices opposing the policy. So this “fact check” is less about getting the facts straight than it is about complaining about how the video was done. Once again, not really fact-checking at all.