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The Founders and de Tocqueville Knew the First Amendment Bests ‘Fact Checkers’


You don’t need “fact-checkers” to know what’s what. Indeed, be aware: the more self-laudatory the fact-checker, the more likely you’re getting sophisticated spin. And often not even sophisticated.

Today’s “fact-checkers” more often than not are simply advancing their own worldviews, pretending it’s gospel truth. That’s deception, a sin as old as sin comes.

As Jarrett Stepman at the Daily Signal reminds us, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited America nearly 200 years ago, the first newspaper he read had an over-the-top report accusing President Andrew Jackson of being a “heartless despot, solely occupied with the preservation of his own authority” and a “gamester” who ruled by corruption. The hyperbole wasn’t unusual.

Could fact checkers have fixed that problem? Nope. How about an official government clearinghouse for “real news?” Nope.

Instead, the Founders and de Tocqueville knew a robust First Amendment and its protections against censorship and government control is the solution. They agreed the free-market of ideas is the best chance for people to learn the truth, rather than being spoon-fed artificial “truth” by elite know-it-alls.

Those who want to put “truth” in the hands of “unbiased” all-knowing seers want something unachievable in a fallen world where even the most upright seek to advance their own preferences, and many of lesser integrity eagerly desire to impose their lies by fiat.

Propaganda and distortion of the news were common in de Tocqueville’s day, as in ours. Americans today are at least as capable of sifting fact from fallacy, truth from falsehood as were our ancestors. You’re not stupid. And if you are that stupid, the last thing you should want is some propagandist elevated to the Ministry of Truth.

Some good advice was written a couple thousand years ago, and it’s even applicable to politics and current affairs: there are false prophets in the world, deceivers and liars. Test what they say. You’re up to the challenge.


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