Fact Check Fail or Deliberate Lie? Snopes Gets It Wrong On Story About Warrantless Searches

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Snopes.com has made its name as the truthful source that debunks crazy conspiracy theories and “fake news” on the internet, but its response to a story on legislation allowing warrantless searches is in need of its own fact check.

As Snopes correctly noted, the story in question was published by The Free Thought Project on Aug. 24, and is on the subject of House Joint Resolution 76. What Snopes does not mention is that up until TFTP reported on the legislation, it received virtually no media coverage, aside from criticism from Congressman Justin Amash on social media.

As the original story noted, House Joint Resolution 76 creates the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, which looks harmless on the surface. The bill claims that its purpose is “Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.”

In its “Fact Check” of the story, Snopes made the claim thatThe legislation does not allow authorities all over the U.S. to conduct warrantless searches, as claimed by a number of disreputable web sites.” 

This is 100% true. The legislation does not allow this, at all.SnopesSnopesHowever, The Free Thought Project never made that claim. Here’s what our original report noted about how warrantless searches could result from the creation of this safety commission:

The major red flag that comes from this bill can be found in the list of powers that are given to the safety commission, when it comes to its authority over the properties around surround the metro rail system. As the text of the bill notes:

“In performing its duties, the Commission, through its Board or designated employees or agents, may: Enter upon the WMATA Rail System and, upon reasonable notice and a finding by the chief executive officer that a need exists, upon any lands, waters, and premises adjacent to the WMATA Rail System, including, without limitation, property owned or occupied by the federal government, for the purpose of making inspections, investigations, examinations, and testing as the Commission may deem necessary to carry out the purposes of this MSC Compact, and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass.”

The problem with this legislation is that even if the commission gives advanced notice that it will be entering a private property, that advanced notice is not a search warrant. Under the Fourth Amendment, a search warrant can only be obtained with the consent of a judge, and it must have probable cause laid out by law enforcement.

The bill received unanimous approval in the Senate, and Justin Amash was one of just five members who voted against it in the House. As he noted on Twitter, the bill gives the government the authority to enter and search private property in parts of Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland without a warrant.

Responding to critics on Twitter, Amash wrote, “This bill does authorize a ‪#4thAmendment violation. Congress has a duty not to pass such broad language even if Constitution nullifies it.”

As Amash also noted, the language of the bill is entirely too broad. “‘Safety’ presumably includes preventing criminal/terrorist activities near WMATA. Bill doesn’t contemplate potential abuse of MSC authority,” he wrote.

When a Twitter user insisted that the bill only applies to “federally owned property,” Amash replied, Read carefully. It applies to *any* property ‘adjacent to the WMATA Rail System.’ You ignored the phrase ‘including, without limitation.’”

While Snopes does acknowledge that Amash considers the legislation to be “too broad and potentially unconstitutional,” its entire article is based on the premise that “The legislation does not allow authorities all over the U.S. to conduct warrantless searches, as claimed by a number of disreputable web sites.”

Although Snopes does not list any of these “disreputable web sites,” the only website it does reference is The Free Thought Project, which it describes as a website that mostly posts stories geared towards stoking fear that the government is on the verge of becoming an authoritarian police state.”

However, the article Snopes was attempting to debunk was based entirely on the facts surrounding the bill—its text, who voted for and against it, and how it was interpreted by elected officials who were charged with the power of determining whether it becomes law. Never once did the story claim this bill would affect the entire United States, or that it would completely put an end to the Fourth Amendment.

As for Snopes’ definition of TFTP’s reputation, an outlet that mostly posts stories geared towards stoking fear” sounds a lot like the description of the many mainstream media outlets The Free Thought Project debunks on a regular basis. As for warning that “the government is on the verge of becoming an authoritarian police state,” in many ways that is essentially what the government already is—an authoritarian state that uses violence and intimidation to enforce its laws.

The Free Thought Project is dedicated to exposing stories of government corruption and police misconduct based on facts and evidence, while also fostering the creation and expansion of liberty-minded solutions to modern day tyrannical oppression. If we were solely focused on brainwashed fear-mongering, we would be no better than the mainstream media.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/snopes-wrong-story-warrantless-searches/

They Are NOT Broke—Snopes’ GoFundMe Is a Scam To Fund a Dirty Divorce

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Snopes is in trouble. According to a self-launched fund raiser, the ostensible fact-checking website, founded in 1994, is on the financial ropes and needs your support to stay open. A GoFundMe for the supposed hoax-debunking site has since been setup and is going viral. If it continues raising money at this current rate, it will easily surpass its goal of $500,000 by the end of the day.

While Twitter followers flock en masse to throw money at David Mikkelson, one of the controlling partners in the Snopes business, they’d do well to understand why it is he has no money.

Snopes, as a business — is not broke. David Mikkelson — who’s been accused of defrauding the website to pay for prostitution — is broke.

Snopes’ estimated value is in the tens of millions, with a daily revenue intake around five figures — a day. They are currently ranked in the top 2,600 websites globally as well as being in the top 700 domestically. The behemoth ‘fact-checker’ is nowhere near being broke.

However, thanks to a dirty divorce between David Mikkelson and his ex-wife Barbara Mikkelson, the company has turned into a glorious shit show.

If you read their GoFundMe page, David alleges the site is being “held hostage” by a “vendor” it contracted with in 2015 and ended its ties with this spring. He claims that the Snopes site and this “vendor” are engaged in a legal battle that could eliminate their “financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.”

However, as the Nieman Lab at Harvard University reports, that legal battle seems to be an argument between Snopes co-founder David Mikkelson and his ex-wife, Barbara Mikkelson, over control of the company.

The “vendor” mentioned in the GoFundMe is Proper Media, Barbara’s side of the Snopes business venture she began after the divorce in 2015.

Essentially, David Mikkelson is begging for money to fight his ex-wife for control over their fact-checking empire. He even notes this on the GoFundMe page, “(not to mention covering our legal fees).”

As Nieman Lab notes, Snopes parent company Bardav, Inc. and the vendor, Proper Media, filed complaints against each other over issues stemming from that contract termination. Snopes alleges that Proper Media continues to control the advertising on Snopes.com, and is withholding revenue from those ads from the Snopes team. Proper Media, meanwhile, alleges that David Mikkelson “has engaged in a lengthy scheme of concealment and subterfuge to gain control of the company and to drain its profits.”

“Mikkelson was unhappy that Barbara maintained ownership of half of what he always considered to be his company after the divorce,” Proper Media’s original complaint reads. “Thus, after Proper Media’s purchase of Barbara’s share, Mikkelson sought to finally gain control of Bardav by aligning and conspiring with (Vincent) Green.”

Yes, this mudslinging conspiracy talk is actually coming from the people who claim to be the arbiters of online truth.

So, as their supports continue to throw money at the GoFundMe campaign — at the current rate of $30,000 per hour — the reality is, that their efforts are most likely in vain.

As media analyst, Thomas Baekdal pointed out Monday in a series of Tweets, people should — like Snopes tells them to do — remain skeptical.

Nieman Lab reached out to both David Mikkelson’s company and Barbara Mikkelson’s company. However, they only received a reply from Proper Media, Barbara’s venture.

“Proper Media suggests that the media conduct its own fact-check of the fundraising plea posted today on Snopes.com,” Karl Kronenberger, counsel for Proper Media, wrote in an email response. “In summary, today’s post only confirms Proper Media’s allegations that Mr. Mikkelson has drained the company’s bank accounts and is unable to operate Snopes profitably without Proper Media’s expertise and management.”

What these new revelations show us is that Snopes — a website that gained notoriety for debunking online myths — is a cluster fuck.

Fraud, embezzlement, and using company funds to pay for prostitution are just a sampling of the accusations against the CEO of the fact-checking website.

As TFTP reported last year, in November, David remarried — his new wife is a former porn actress and escort — and is now one of the site’s fact-checkers. As for these accusations, reports the Daily Mail,

“They are accusing each other of financial impropriety, with Barbara claiming her ex-husband is guilty of ‘embezzlement’ and suggesting he is attempting a ‘boondoggle’ to change tax arrangements, while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas.”

In a court document from last June, Barbara contended, “He’s been depleting the corporate account by spending monies from it on his personal expenses,” such as purchasing his ‘girlfriend’s’ ticket to Buenos Aires and $10,000 for a “personal vacation” to India.

As Claire Bernish so eloquently pointed out last year, one point incontestably underpinning the personal battle behind the scenes at the company demands an urgent question — with money as the seemingly only motivator, can the public ever be assured Snopes’ checked facts are accurate at all?

Perhaps Snopes has finally been Snoped.

Source Article from http://thefreethoughtproject.com/snopes-begs-money-gofundme/