How did The Daily Caller become a Facebook fact-checker?

An open letter to Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network

Nandini Jammi
4 min readOct 30, 2019

Hi Ms. Cristina Tardàguila and Mr. Baybars Örsek,

I’m trying to get to the bottom of something.

Last week when Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress, AOC asked him how The Daily Caller, a publication with ties to white supremacists, passed FB’s “rigorous standards” for fact-checking.

Zuckerberg responded that those weren’t Facebook’s “rigorous standards” — they are yours.

In response, you claimed that Zuckerberg got his facts wrong: that the Daily Caller is not an approved fact-checker, but their subsidiary called Check Your Fact is.

Your response suggested that there is a meaningful difference between the two. It didn’t pass the smell test for me.

So I’d like some additional clarification:

How did a white supremacist-owned “fact-checking” unit become a IFCN verified signatory and receive the green-light to become a FB fact-checker?

Let’s look at the facts.

Check Your Fact & The Daily Caller Are Both Owned by Tucker Carlson

Check Your Fact doesn’t just have ties to white supremacists. It’s owned by a white supremacist. The same one who owns The Daily Caller.

Tucker Carlson’s white supremacist views are so toxic that 70 advertisers have fled his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, in the past year.

Like most white supremacists, Carlson has a loose relationship with facts and reality. Over the past year, he’s made claims like:

  • Immigrants are making our country “poorer” and “dirtier”
  • White supremacy is a “hoax” and a “conspiracy theory”
  • Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country”

While advertisers left, his views were heartily endorsed by former Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke and neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer.

I’m wondering how a fact-checking unit owned by a dangerous white nationalist did not raise red flags at your organization.

Did your assessor Lucas Graves look into this?

Check Your Fact & The Daily Caller Have The Same Editor-In-Chief

Geoffrey Ingersoll is The Daily Caller’s Editor-in-Chief.

In this capacity, he has has invited several notorious white supremacists like Jason Kessler (Unite the Right), Scott Greer and Peter Brimelow (VDare) to write for The Daily Caller.

Ingersoll is the same Editor-in-Chief who greenlighted the doxxing of my partner at Sleeping Giants, Matt Rivitz, which resulted in him receiving anti-Semitic attacks and death threats.

Ingersoll also manages Check Your Fact.

I’m wondering how a fact-checking unit led by a person running stories like these did not raise red flags at your organization.

Did your assessor Lucas Graves look into this?

Check Your Fact & The Daily Caller Have The Same Editorial Staff

In 2016, The Daily Caller played a “key role” in “creating and disseminating stories” that promoted deep “anti-Muslim sentiment” and “employed anti-immigrant narratives that echoed sentiments from the alt-right and white nationalists but without the explicitly racist and pro-segregation language.”

This is according to a Harvard report on partisan disinformation.

The same staff that write for The Daily Caller also serve as fact-checkers for Check Your Fact.

How did an outlet promoting false and inflammatory rhetoric manage to successfully pass off the same Daily Caller staff as “non-partisan and transparent” fact-checkers to the IFCN?

Something is not right at the IFCN

You are both currently traveling the world to tout IFCN’s Code of Principles and your commitment to non-partisan & transparent fact-checking:

“We believe nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful instrument of accountability journalism.” — IFCN website

Therefore, I’m extremely concerned that neither the IFCN nor your assessor was able to screen out a white supremacist-owned fact-checking organization.

The Daily Caller, The Daily Caller News Foundation and Check Your Fact are owned, operated and funded by exactly the same people. They only operate as different legal entities. A corporate veil, in the most classic sense.

3 legal entities. 1 Christmas party.

You have made it clear that your role is “limited to certifying” fact-check organizations.

But that role is a critical one: IFCN has enabled them to clear the path for The Daily Caller to both create misinformation and fact-check for the biggest, most influential social media platform in the world.

From what I can see, your certification process is merely a box-ticking exercise.

It’s difficult to see how the IFCN’s assessor could have possibly been provided with enough information to make an informed assessment about compliance with IFCN policies.

As a result, you’ve given an entity controlled by Tucker Carlson the cover to claim that they are non-partisan and transparent fact-checkers.

In doing so, you have set a dangerous precedent that undermines your mission at IFCN and that of other legitimate fact-checking orgs that now share a designation with them.

As we enter the 2020 election season, misinformation will once again be our biggest threat. As leaders of IFCN and as a de facto resource to Facebook, you have a responsibility to use your authority carefully.

Based on this outcome, I’m not sure you are.

Again, my question is:

How did a white supremacist-owned “fact-checking” unit become a IFCN verified signatory? Who made the final decision to allow a white-supremacist owned organization into IFCN’s network?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Nandini Jammi // Sleeping Giants

@nandoodles / @slpng_giants