Free Speech

Michigan Legislators Seek to Require Registration, Bonding of Fact Checkers

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That's in Michigan House Bill No. 4813, introduced by Reps. Maddock, Outman, Eisen, Roth, Martin, Griffin, Bezotte, Damoose and Carra:

Sec. 3(a) "Fact checker" means a person that meets all of the following:
(i) Is paid or compensated by an organization affiliated with a national or international fact-checking organization or network that holds itself out as a fact-checking organization or network.
(ii) Is a member of the International Fact Check Network.
(iii) Publishes material physically or digitally in this state.
(iv) Holds itself out to the public as a fact checker.

Sec. 5. A fact checker shall register with the secretary of state.

Sec. 7. At the time of registration, a registrant shall file with the secretary of state proof of a fidelity bond in the amount of no less than $1,000,000.00.

No, the government can't require people who engage in speech with a specific sort of content (fact-checking) or who belong to a specific organization of writers (the International Fact-Checking Network) to register and provide a bond before speaking—just as the government can't require people who engage in speech with a specific sort of content to pay extra money for police protection (see Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992)). Content-neutral requirements for demonstrations on public streets at parks, with insurance aimed at dealing with potential harms unrelated to content (e.g., physical injury and property damage), may be constitutional. But not content-based requirements such as the Michigan one, which are clearly aimed at supposed harms stemming from the content of the speech.

If people really think that fact-checkers are outright libeling them, they can sue, just as they can sue whenever any other speakers (non-fact-checker journalists or non-journalists) libel them. It's true that sometimes the defendants won't have the money to pay (though ones that write for money and belong to established organizations often do have insurance). But that isn't an adequate reason to require people to register and pay for a bond before speaking on certain topics.

Thanks to my colleague Prof. John Villasenor for the pointer; see this Detroit News article (Beth LeBlanc & Craig Mauger) for more.

NEXT: "Steelmanning" and Interpretive Charity

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  1. In case you couldn’t guess, Republicans all.
    It’s the Big Lie freakshow setting up another tent….

    1. As if Trump’s war on Inspectors General wasn’t an obvious enough attack on truth.

      1. Most fact checkers left town with Trump. The few that remain specialize in ‘fact check’ those criticizing the new Admin.

        1. Journalists have a Code of Ethics. Any violation of its rule should breach the Free Press Clause that immunizes garbage with less credibility than the David Duke website.

          1. Crazy Conservative Cockatoo Cut-n’-paste!

            1. Look in the mirror, Hon, then call anyone crazy. You are delusional about the chromosome genotype in every cell of your body. You live in the upside down world of the Commie, enabled by the scumbag lawyer profession. Lawyers have supernatural beliefs.

        2. That must be why politicians are going after fact checkers. Because they criticize Biden so much. Yeah, that’s it. Hey, pass the kool aid, please.

          I do agree with the spirit that many in the press corp are sympathetic to Biden and supportive of the State.

          1. “That must be why politicians are going after fact checkers. Because they criticize Biden so much. Yeah, that’s it. Hey, pass the kool aid, please.”

            That’s a really strange understanding of what KCar wrote, that the remaining fact checkers specialize in “those criticizing the new Admin.” Not FCs criticizing Biden, FCs checking only people who criticize Biden.

        3. Most fact checkers left town with Trump.

          I’m sure you can back that up.

        4. No, the sheer volume of lies generating acres of fact-checking left town with Trump. Republicans may be obliged to abide by his dishonesty as their political philosophy, they just don’t have his range.

      2. Attack by cruise missiles, drones, or troops?

    2. There’s plenty of this crap on both sides. Democratic congressmen recently sent a letter to cable companies demanding that they justify carrying Fox News.

      And a Democratic congresman said at a hearing the other day, “It is now painfully clear that neither the market nor social pressure will force these companies to take the aggressive action they need to take to eliminate this information and extremism from their platforms… Your business model itself has become the problem, and the time for self-regulation is over.”

      1. Post here last week about the Dem DA from Baltimore seeking an FCC investigation on a local station.

        1. Bob, and TwelveInch, I’m not defending either the Congressmen who are trying to regulate Facebook, nor the Baltimore DA, whom I also think are completely out of line. However, I don’t think the cases are analogous.

          It is one thing to say that a certain, specific bad actor (Facebook, the local Baltimore station) has behaved so badly that something needs to be done about it. It’s another thing entirely to begin requiring licenses wholesale before you can speak. We can quibble over whether Facebook or the local station did in fact behave so badly as to justify state involvement; that’s just not the same as preemptively requiring permission to talk in the first place.

          1. But, it’s not requiring a “license to speak”. It’s requiring a license to be able to perform in a specific capacity. As your own argument below, the exact same speech can be made, by anybody who doesn’t meet the 4 criteria of being a fact checker, without the need for prior registration.

            I’m not sure that is as egregious as a specific bad actor behaving badly.

            1. Lol. Vinni: “The Cleveland Plain-Dealer claims to be performing in the specific capacity of plain-dealing but it actually is not honest in my opinion so regulating it seems not that bad to me (as long as a Republican proposes it I mean.”

              1. I’d say I didn’t think you could be any dumber, but that would be a lie. Stick with following Behar around like a lost puppy.

          2. “We can quibble over whether Facebook or the local station did in fact behave so badly as to justify state involvement; that’s just not the same as preemptively requiring permission to talk in the first place.”

            The Idi Amin argument? You support freedom of speech, but don’t guarantee freedom after speech?

            1. You seem all in on stripping FB and Twitter of existing protections based on their wrongs in other threads.

              1. Cite? I’m not for stripping FB and Twitter of existing protections based on their wrongs.

                1. Section 230?
                  Common carriers?

                  1. I’m not sure what you’re claiming, Sarcastro.

                    I don’t support stripping FB and Twitter of existing protections based on their wrongs in any way that has to Section 230, or common carriers.

              2. Section 230 conferred a benefit on Facebook and Twitter, supposedly in exchange for a better flow of free speech.

                I don’t think the bargain is working out as I hoped so if I put them on the same footing as the NYTimes, or my local radio station, how is that unfair?

            2. Not all speech is protected. Threats are not protected. Libel and slander are not protected. Publishing nuclear launch codes is not protected. There may not be prior restraint, but there most definitely are consequences that follow some form of speech.

              I think Facebook has contributed mightily to the toxic polity that we currently have, but I’m far from convinced that justifies state involvement. I am a big believer in the First Amendment. However, I also don’t think it’s an entirely ridiculous argument to claim that if the toxicity rises to a certain level, at some point it shouldn’t be protected, just as libel or slander are not protected.

              1. “However, I also don’t think it’s an entirely ridiculous argument to claim that if the toxicity rises to a certain level, at some point it shouldn’t be protected, just as libel or slander are not protected.”

                I don’t know if it’s completely ridiculous, but it’s not supported by any law or precedent, and contradicted by plenty of law and precedent.

              2. Other people must have a different facebook than the one I have. Mine mostly features members of our beach club posting pictures of their new grandchildren, or New York City friends posting pictures of Central Park foliage. Very soothing. (Admittedly, I unfollow anyone who posts political content.)

          3. “I don’t think the cases are analogous.”

            Of course not. One is by a GOPer, others by Dems.

            Completely different.

            1. This is pretty shoddy, Bob.

              Krychek_2 laid out his reasoning, and it’s completely different than what you just wrote.

              Engage the argument, rather than strawmanning so you can accuse someone else of being partisan.

              1. The argument is an assertion that silencing specific actors based on speech congressmen don’t like is less egregious than a very narrow regulation licensing a very narrow class of purported fact checkers.

                I don’t know how to respond to that other than to say that I think that what the Michigan legislators are doing is less egregious, but of course it’s all wildly unconstitutional.

                1. And thus, you are not Bob.
                  Low bar, but good job clearing it.

                2. That’s actually not my argument. It’s not that congressmen don’t like it; it’s that it’s been demonstrated to increase the toxicity of our current polity. I still think it’s probably unconstitutional, but I also find that less egregious than a sweeping requirement to pre-register.

              2. “rather than strawmanning”

                The “argument” is just gaslighting, a won’t go anywhere bill is not worse than the Dem examples. The GOP bill is facially neutral, the Dems are actively seeking punishment right now of their ideological foes.

                1. I’m not sure that it’s relevant whether the bill will go anywhere. If someone introduced legislation that Jews can’t vote, I rather imagine you’d be incensed about it even though (1) it wouldn’t go anywhere and (2) the courts would strike it down in a heartbeat if it did. And facially neutral it may be, but so what? You might want to re-read Yick Wo v. Hopkins.

                2. Declaring, with no support, that an argument has been made in bad faith and then flumphing off is an impressively quick way to lose an argument.

                  Facially neutral doesn’t matter. Though congrats on being the only person to come out in defense of this crap. Maybe Aktenberg will come along and you won’t be so alone.

                  You’re not digging up.

                  1. “You’re not digging up.”

                    I’m a constant disappointment to you.

                    “In case you couldn’t guess, Republicans all.”

                    That’s how this sub-thread started. People point out its really both sides and its all hand waved away by you.

                    Maybe Kirkland will come around to add his two cents to support you.

      2. The noose of the police state is a ratchet. It never loosens.

  2. The fact is the lawyer profession stinks. Do I now have to post $1 million bond? I am hiring a lawyer.

    1. You probably don’t since nothing you post here even pretends to be fact. Might want to run it by a lawyer though just to be sure.

      1. What are you saying, the lawyer profession does not stink? It is not in failure in every self stated goal of every law subject?

        1. “The lawyer profession” is a fairly sweeping generalization that takes in a lot of ground. “Every self stated goal of every law subject” is also a fairly sweeping generalization that takes in a lot of ground.

          If you want to argue that the legal system has problems, you’ll get no argument out of me. But neither is it the disaster of Titanic proportions you make it out to be.

          1. Start with crime. 15 million common law crimes, 100 million internet crimes. It is a Titanic class failure. Crush it, execute its entire hierarchy. Start over. Make it catch up to modern times.

            1. Name any subject in the law. Review its self stated goals. The failures are as gigantic as in crime.

  3. But, if you don’t meet one of Sec 3(a) i, ii, iii, or iv, then you aren’t subject to registration. So, what impact does this actually have? It doesn’t prevent anyone from checking facts or presenting fact checks, unless they purport to be super-special, totally neutral, definitely not biased fact checkers. Seems more like occupational licensing?

    1. This is how we deal with Farcebook & Twatter — much as one need to be licensed to practice law, one now needs to be licensed to practice “factchecking.”

      It *is* occupational licensing with the same public interest as lawyers — and the same exemption to the 1st Amendment.

      1. I’m not advocating for occupational licensing. I think the bar (pun intended) should be lowered for licensing of lawyers. And, in fact, I would advocate for less occupational licensing generally (especially where most of it is rent-seeking, instead of a genuine public interest, like educational requirements for doctors).

    2. And the government can’t mandate occupational licensing for journalists, book authors, filmmakers, etc., however neutral or super-special they might claim to be.

      1. Can’t they? Are there no occupations which mandate licensing similarly?

        I would argue that they shouldn’t, but I’m not sure that it’s true that they can’t.

        1. The occupations so cited involve expression in an essential way that, say, hairdressers do not.

          1. Counseling? I’m pretty sure expression is very central to that.

            1. Seems to me there’s an occupational speech case there waiting to happen, but I dunno.

              1. You may be right; I tend to think you should be. But Prof. Volokh has written, I believe, about the difference between providing professional services to a specific person and just speaking on a topic. So counseling a paying client about their psychological problems requires a license, but simply publishing general comments about psychological issues directed to the general public would not.

                (Which is not to say that licensing boards do not sometimes try to argue that they have the right to control any speech on a topic. Famous case here at Reason being the Oregon engineering board a few years ago that tried to fine a guy for analyzing traffic lights without being a licensed engineer.)

          2. Interesting. Where is the line? Interior decorators? Photographers? (We know that the government can regulate them.) Painters and sculptors? Writers? As best I can tell, most people, including the Conspirators, decide these cases based on whether they think the profession in question matches them in socioeconomic status and worldview.

        2. Occupational licensing is allowed in situations where there is a permissible governmental interest that is being regulated, with any potential burdens on expressive activity being incidental and narrowly tailored. “Fact-checkers” are engaged in pure expressive activity, which the First Amendment prohibits the government from having an interest in regulating. Therefore, even incidental burdens on such activities are not allowed. The power to license is the power to control.
          Therefore, It is indeed true that they can’t.

          1. How is “fact checking” not an occupation? How is it not at least as much an occupation as counseling? And and no more expressive?

            I really don’t see the difference here. Mind, I wouldn’t resolve the contradiction in favor of regulating both. Rather, neither.

            1. I view “fact checkers” similar to CPAs — they are attesting to the accuracy of public records.

    3. You would have to meet all of the requirements, not any of them. So the bill is simultaneously blatantly unconstitutional and trivial to evade.

      1. It’s really just a boon to the American Fact Check Network. Splitters.

      2. “blatantly unconstitutional”

        Arguably, sure. Blatantly? Bit of a stretch.

        “trivial to evade”

        Yes, precisely. If you don’t meet one of Sec 3(a), then you aren’t subject to registration.

  4. Before looking to see which party is birthing this abomination, god help us if its both, screw you.

    We shall not have government-approved arbiters of truth.

    “Have you gotten your license from the Ministry of Truth yet?”

    1. This isn’t an attempt to exclude based on viewpoint, yet.

      1. The First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.

        1. What about someone whose message to a transgender teen is “Don’t have hormone treatments or surgery”? Or someone whose message to a gay teen is “You can change your orientation”?

      2. Based on the lead sponsor’s recent comments on the topic, I think it’s very difficult to argue that this isn’t motivated by the fact-checkers viewpoint (perceived or actual).

    2. Actually though, the Ministry of Truth in this case wouldn’t be the government, it would be the “Fact Checkers”. There’s no government consideration of truth or viewpoint limiting which “Fact Checkers” can be registered. But there are many appeals to authority citing said “Fact Checkers” as proof.

      1. The contortions the Right goes into to keep their constant sense of victimhood.

        The Ministry of Truth in 1984 was part of a government apparatus that used governmental power to detain, torture and kill people.

        Today’s ‘fact checkers’ are journalists who say that politicians Vinni likes are wrong. It’s them that’s the *real Ministry of Truth,* the horror, the horror!

        1. You should just stick with copypasta trolling Behar. That’s at least sort of entertaining.

  5. As blatantly biased and partisan are, it would be a clear violation of 1A.

  6. And here I thought the People’s Republic of NJ was unique in having crappy water. Evidently not. 🙂

    A question for the lawyers. Suppose the bill passes, and becomes law. Now you have to argue for the application of this law. What is the argument you make? A valid exercise of police powers? Not a justiciable question?

    1. I don’t think there’s any argument in favor of the law that would survive a First Amendment challenge, but if I were somehow stuck defending the law, here is the (incredibly weak) argument I would make:

      This is about what you call yourself. Anyone can give a friend relationship advice, but if you want to hold yourself out as a professional therapist, you need a license. And that’s all this law does: If you are going to claim the respectability that comes from being a disinterested, honest fact checker who resolves factual disputes for a living, then you need to demonstrate that you are worthy of that esteem. And, that if you mess up and someone gets badly hurt as a result, there is insurance to compensate them.

      1. Should therapists need to be licensed? Seems like content based restriction.

      2. Ya, commercial speech doctrine too.

    2. Prof Baude challenged us to steelman arguments. The best argument I could make in defense of this law would be to pitch it as occupational licensing that’s neutrally applied to all fact-checkers (who meet the criteria) regardless of which viewpoint they are checking or expressing. Occupational licensing is generally defended as a valid exercise of police powers.

      The obvious argument against is that the “occupational licensing” is a pretext for prior restraint. Doctors – the occupation for which licensing is considered most valid – have successfully challenged laws that infringe on their ability to speak even in narrow medical contexts.

  7. I fail to see why requiring those who profess to be our Ministry of Truth ought to not be held accountable for what they peddle as “truth”. What do they have to hide as truth is an absolute defense? Also seems to me to be in the public interest to make sure that those who claim to publish the unvarnished factual truth are required to hold an instrument that will pay out any lawful judgements against them.

    And, where is the first amendment problem here? Libel and slander are not protected speech. This is akin to professional licensing.

    1. To quote Volokh above: And the government can’t mandate occupational licensing for journalists

      But I can see how this gets your authoritarian cockles excited.

      1. I don’t think holding massive institutions that drive left wing politics accountable is necessary “authoritarian” in fact one could say it is implicit in democracy that no one institution or corporation exerts so much unchecked control that is effectively silences the public. These are also not “journalists” in an originalist sense. They are party surrogates basically one degree of separation from being on the DNC payroll. It is one huge system of soft money for the Dems and rightfully so it ought to be heavily regulated.

        Let’s exempt real journalists and just call it a day.

        1. Political leaders suppressing critical press is a key feature of authoritarianism around the world.

          ” no one institution or corporation exerts so much unchecked control that is effectively silences the public”

          So you’re for trying to silence these people to stop them from [checks notes]…silencing people*? The Right is now Marcusian, delightful!

          * and the idea that fact check columnists are ‘massive institutions’ that are ‘silencing’ anyone is just more of the incredible contortions those on the Right engage in to keep their sense of victimhood at 11.

          1. Again this isn’t “press.” It is propaganda. There is no journalism going on. It is all party politics under the poorly thinned veil of disguise.

            The premise is simple. If you want to hold yourself out as an arbiter of the truth then register and post a bond so that judgements against you (if you aren’t a fact checker and engage in illegal activity) can be enforced. I fail to see an issue with this unless you are being disingenuous….

            1. Virtually all journalists say they are publishing the truth. So do teachers, professors, scientists, they should all be forced to post a bond before they can speak their conclusions? That’s really silly.

              1. You can publish whatever you want, just don’t call yourself a “fact checker” unless, indeed, that is what you are doing. This isn’t hard or even a close call.

        2. These are also not “journalists” in an originalist sense.

          I mean, they actually are.

          1. I’m sure the Founding Fathers thought “press” would mean left wing axe grinding partisans that go by zee and think there are 72 genders….

            1. Now do guns.

            2. That’s the fatal flaw in making appeals to authorities whose ignorance of the present is pretty much absolute.

      2. Well the most fun I had in the last few years was when a NC legislator took the existing ‘common sense gun control’ procedure for getting a permit to exercise your constitutional rights, and changed the ‘gun’ parts to ‘reporting’. Even after being let in on the joke the “journalists” went crazy about how evil and unconstitutional it was. I laughed for days.

  8. This is just posturing.

    MI can’t enforce this against WaPo or NYT; “(iii) Publishes material physically or digitally in this state.”

    So this would this affect. . . I dunno. . . the Kalamazoo Gazette?

    1. “This is just posturing.”

      That’s my take away as well.

    2. Yes it is posturing.

      Legislators enjoy absolute immunity for their legislative actions. Should they have it?

      1. They haven’t really accomplished anything yet. This is a proposed bill that must be approved by the state senate. Then presumably the governor passes on it. So I doubt that it will ever become law.

        State legislators are often a motley crew of constitutionally ignorant political hacks, especially representatives. State senators are usually a little less ignorant.

        If it became law, it would not last in the courts. Personally, I’d enjoy seeing Prof. Volokh shoot the buzzards down.

    3. Whether or not they can enforce this at all, that particular clause does not restrict them in the slightest. WaPo and NYT both “publish physically or digitally in” Michigan and every other state where they have paying subscribers.

  9. Much as I think much “fact checking” is a scam, barely disguised editorializing, you still can’t require a license or bonding.

    Not even if it’s done for hire.

    1. “Fact checking” is mostly just the new editorial. So what if media outlets have to now call it what it really is – an op-ed….

      1. “Fact checking” is mostly just the new editorial. So what if media outlets have to now call it what it really is – an op-ed….

        Yeah, call the bill what it really is — punishment for false advertising.

        1. If Facebook and Twitter want to employ “fact checkers” they better make sure those are actual facts they are using and not just DNC propaganda. I really don’t see a problem with this and the more I type about it the more reasonable it sounds.

    2. Brett, Jimmy & Vinni check-in on the possibility of “facts”

      Gosh; you’d hardly know they’re still enthralled with a grotesque psychopathic liar, would you?

      I suspect when they’re no longer yoked to Trump – who lies by compulsion – they’ll rediscover some fondness for the concept of truth.

      1. And there you have it, kids. 4+ months after the mass media muzzling of the man, TDS is still so strong that those afflicted just can’t stop themselves from gratuitously injecting him into the conversation. Pretty amazing.

        1. Kinda strange isn’t it? Even though Trump is “muzzled”, I still read reporting of his Big Lie bullshit every week. This week, last week, and the week before. We’re gonna need a bigger muzzle, eh?

          Of course Life of Brian’s comment is untrue, but I concede it may have an “emotional truth” to him – which allows for the Right’s typical phoniness & fantasy.

          You see, booting Trump off Twitter disrupted LOB’s entertainment, and that’s the appeal of President Troll to his cult anyway. Normal reporting just doesn’t deliver the same ye-haws & yuks when LOB’s carnival barker “owns the libs”…..

          1. As Brian demonstrates below, the Right lives now in a post-modern swamp where words and facts are quite malleable. What they really believe in is propaganda, which is tested only by whether its for your side or not and whether it works for your side or not. No wonder organizations that try to judge claims against evidence and dare to determine a conclusion offend him and his ilk so…

            1. Queen Amalthea : the Right lives now in a post-modern swamp where words and facts are quite malleable.

              Hell, in their word you’re ostracized & punished if you try and live otherwise. Isn’t that what we saw today? Cheney was wrong because she wouldn’t “let it go”. Meanwhile, Trump spews a continuous flow of bile on his Big Lie bullshit.

              And everyone must get in line & say “up is down” to be part of the movement. The top three GOP candidates for Virginia’s governorship all parroted Trump’s lies. You had to get down to fourth place to reach someone with the brass balls to speak truth. Lies are the heart, soul and sinew of today’s conservative movement. It’s the only glue holding everything together. Without lies, today’s Right would dissolve into a pile of dust.

              A commentator over at the National Review had an apt response to the Cheney Debacle. He quoted his side’s own Thomas Sowell:

              “It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread in a multitude of hypocrisy”

              Or one honest woman, as the case may be…….

              1. Queen Amalthea/grb : the Right lives now in a post-modern swamp where words and facts are quite malleable.

                It seems like you are mad that the Right is copying the tactics that the Left has been using for decades.

          2. Kinda strange isn’t it? Even though Trump is “muzzled”, I still read reporting of his Big Lie bullshit every week.

            Since we both know you’re not talking about any sort of publication by any major media outlet over which Trump exercised any editorial control, you’re just further reinforcing my point. Y’all can’t let it go.

            1. WTF? What politicians do exercise editorial control over their speech in major media outlets?

              Trump was on Fox recently, his comments online are reported there regularly and there’s little doubt that nearly every show on that network would have him on tonight if he wanted them to. That’s only ‘muzzled’ in a truly post-modern sense.

              1. WTF? What politicians do exercise editorial control over their speech in major media outlets?

                Wow, now you’re just outright flailing. Politicians routinely write articles that are published in major media outlets. Major media outlets routinely broadcast politicians’ actual speeches instead of boycotting them and instead writing catty interpretations of what they think they meant. Rejoin us in the real world any time you’re ready.

                Trump was on Fox recently

                So now suddenly Fox is not only a legitimate media source, it’s a big smoking gun that somehow invalidates everything I just said? More reflexive flailing.

                1. ” Politicians routinely write articles that are published in major media outlets. ”

                  Uh, that’s control by the media outlet (the editors choose, edit, etc.,). Do you doubt that if Trump ever wrote an article that a major news outlet would publish it?

                  “So now suddenly Fox is not only a legitimate media source, it’s a big smoking gun that somehow invalidates everything I just said? ”

                  Uh, yeah, if you’re going to whine about being ‘muzzled’ the fact you were on the most watched TV news networks does kind of invalidate that…

                  1. Aside from their only formerly being the most watched TV news network, even when they were it was a small plurality in a wide field.

            2. Life of Brian: “….Trump exercised any editorial control…..”

              Don’t that beat all. I read reporting that quotes Trump’s words and describes his actions, same as everyone else.

              But same as everyone else isn’t good enough. Wanna know why? When your cult idol is a compulsive liar, his words will frequently be untrue. When the object of your bootlicking devotion is a serial buffoon, his actions are embarrassing more often than not.

              That’s why we get LOB’s snowflake whining. Even tame lickspittle Fox News isn’t “safe space” enough for him. God knows we’ve seen Trump make a fool of himself on Fox & Friends often enough.

              Only on the juvenile playground of Twitter can LOB feel secure. There it doesn’t matter if every other word is a lie. There it’s irrelevant if DJT’s “message” has all the maturity of a small brattish child. It’s only there Life of Brian gets the ye-haw entertainment he wants from politics, governance & leadership.

              1. all the maturity of a small brattish child.

                Well put — I truly can’t think of a better way to sum up your fact-free, juvenile rant. The derangement continues apace.

                1. Note this is Brian’s go-to when he’s got nothing.

                  1. Queenie, this entire thread started with my very simple observation that TDS is alive and well.

                    The subsequent slew of sophomoric slush from you two has done nothing but reinforce that very simple observation.

                    It’s only complicated if you try to make it so.

              2. “I read reporting that quotes Trump’s words and describes his actions, same as everyone else.”

                Sure, you’ll read reporting that quotes Trump’s words. It’s a bit harder to find reporting that quotes Trump’s sentences, and reporting that quotes his paragraphs is pretty hard to track down. His entire utterances in context require real work to find.

                But, his words, salted into paraphrases like some precious spice one mustn’t waste? Yeah, easy to find.

                1. That’s just pathetic, Brett. There’s nothing special about the way Trump is quoted over any other politician. When will you ever be free of this burden you’ve opposed on yourself? Week after week & month after month – you’re here making the lamest imaginable excuses for Donald John Trump.

                  Doesn’t the dishonest futility of it ever get old ?!?

                  1. (“imposed” not “opposed” Wish we had an edit function!)

                2. Sure, you’ll find reporting that quotes Trumps entire speeches and entire interview transcripts to compare with edited versions. It’s a bit harder to find reporting that shows the exact sequences of neurons firing in his brains as they fart out his thoughtclouds.

  10. I confess I have mixed feelings about this. It seems like it’s fairly easy to steer the perception of the correct outcome by how you couch the conduct. For example, on a purely mechanical level, you could say CPAs and lawyers are “writers,” and providing financial and legal advice is simply “speech with a specific sort of content.” I suspect things like that have been been tried a few times, and that the relevant authorities have not been amused.

    It seems to me the core issue here is not the fact checker’s speech itself, but the supposed authority that comes from being a “fact checker” — a referee of others’ speech, if you will. Limiting the bond requirement to those who are members of an international “fact check” organization (who knew?) reinforces that notion.

    If people are going to hold themselves out as not just having an opinion on what is and is not truth, but as some sort of special authority on it, I’m not immediately seeing why it’s less appropriate for a state to have some level of professional licensure requirements for that position of authority than others the public may detrimentally rely on.

    1. “If people are going to hold themselves out as not just having an opinion on what is and is not truth”

      I know this is a foreign concept for Brian (who likely thinks of news as Tucker Carlson who has argued as a defense in court that no one could think he was actually reporting facts on his show), but nearly all journalists and their outlets claim to be reporting facts and truth. Ditto for teachers, academics, encyclopedia writers, scientists, etc.,.

      The reasoning is bad, but that’s because the real underlying reasoning is ‘Republicans offered this about a profession I think is mean to my Republicans.’

      1. The reasoning is bad

        Or in your case, non-existent. But I hope your reflexive emoting made you feel better!

        1. Your reasoning is laughable, just admit it Journalists and their outlets *generally* claim they are reporting facts. Your argument is that if they are confident about it and say so in some magic word formula then regulating them is more reasonable. That’s silly.

          1. Your argument is that if they are confident about it and say so in some magic word formula then regulating them is more reasonable. That’s silly.

            Any silliness is of their own making. If they’re just trying to forthrightly express opinions like everyone else, then they can drop the “fact checker” moniker, the rest of the universe can stop using “fact checkers” as a substitute for critical thinking and as a club to try to shut down dialogue they don’t like, and all will be well.

            1. Are you really saying that any media figure or outlet who claims that what they are saying is ‘the truth’ or ‘the facts’ or ‘a fact’ deserves more regulation than one who, say, reports ‘X happened today’ or ‘X claimed Y was spent on Z but the budget amount reports it was C’?

              That is silly. Just admit it. And it would almost certainly backfire more on conservative media figures who make a virtue out of the certainty of their conclusions.

              1. Are you really saying that any media figure or outlet who claims that what they are saying is ‘the truth’ or ‘the facts’ or ‘a fact’ deserves more regulation than one who, say, reports ‘X happened today’ or ‘X claimed Y was spent on Z but the budget amount reports it was C’?

                No, honey, that (along with the rest of your cut and paste spew below) are your sad little straw man. What I said was clear enough — you just don’t like it.

                  1. I mean, he’s got nothing. Cato and Heritage and many other organizations claim to “fact check'” things, so these magic words either can’t do the work he wants them to or he’s for regulating all these organizations’ speech as well.

                    Take reporter Bryan who writes “President Trump claimed today his inauguration crowd was the largest one on the Mall in history. Democrats claimed this was false. According to the NPS which estimates crowd sizes at these events determined the amount was X, short of President Y and Z’s inauguration events.”

                    And ‘Fact Checker’ Brian who writes: “President Trump claimed today his inauguration crowd was the largest one on the Mall in history. Democrats claimed this was false. We rate this claim as False since the NPS which estimates crowd sizes at these events determined it was Z, short of President Y and Z’s inauguration events.”

                    Life of Brian would have one believe that the latter press speech is so distinct from the former that the latter more reasonably warrants government regulation. This is embarrassing.

                    *Btw-the WaPo, btw, also labels ‘Fact Check’ articles clearly under ‘analysis,’ further burying Life of Brian and other conservatives’ argument here that it’s some distinctly dangerous arbiter of truth…

                    It’s a profoundly silly distinction, the kind only a partisan can adhere to.

            2. Fact check Cato Institute, I guess they get regulated

              https://www.cato.org/blog/biden-plan

              1. Like Cap I could do this all day, but the point is easily seen by non-partisans: just because a journalist uses the magic words ‘fact check’ for their reporting claims doesn’t put it into some different (and indeed more dangerous or whatever category) than most other standard journalism.

      2. “Tucker Carlson who has argued as a defense in court that no one could think he was actually reporting facts on his show…”

        Fact check, Pants on fire.

    2. “If people are going to hold themselves out as not just having an opinion on what is and is not truth, but as some sort of special authority on it”

      The Wall Street Journal’s motto used to be “The Truth in its proper use” a motto they still point to (https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-report-to-our-readers-11597188647). Let’s apply this regulation to these people holding themselves out as not just having an an opinion on what is and is not truth….Lol.

      1. The Wall Street Journal’s motto used to be “The Truth in its proper use” a motto they still point to (https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-report-to-our-readers-11597188647).

        Speaking of “fact checking” — the word “truth” doesn’t appear on that page. Here’s what does: “Trust is a precious thing, and everyone at the Journal gets up every day knowing that we have to earn it.” That’s a diametrically opposite posture to today’s “fact checkers,” and I know you know that.

        1. Pathetic try, Brian. From the site: “An old motto for The Wall Street Journal was “The Truth in its proper use”—a phrase that still applies today and sums up why we exist. We aim to be the source of truth for our readers around the world, in business, finance and life. “

          1. From the site:

            I presume you mean “from the paywalled portion of the site.”

            In any event, “we aim to be” is entirely consistent with what I quoted, and, once again, diametrically opposed to the “we are” of today’s supposed “fact checkers.” The former tries to get it right and earns the trust of people who (just imagine) independently confirm they did so; the latter declares they got it right and asks people to mindlessly believe that because of who they claim to be.

            1. So you didn’t know what was in the article but still tried to build an argument on the little you could see with a generalization about what appears in the article and what doesn’t. Then, caught, you stick your hand in the Wood Beast again with this silly proffered ‘disctinction.’

              Sigh. Also in the article.

              “Against this trend, the Journal’s news coverage stands as a beacon with its uniquely detached, researched, factual reporting. ”

              So, now what? You for find a good case for putting the WSJ under these restrictions the MI GOP clowns are offering? Or do you want to just admit your proffered distinction is flimsy nonsense triggered by partisan fealty. Admit your situation, there would be more dignity in it…

              1. Also, on the flip side, here’s what the uber-fact check organization FactCheck.org says about it’s mission “Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship” & “We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.”

                So “we aim to reduce deception”-REGULATE!
                But “We aim to be the source of truth for our readers”-DON’T, TOTES DIFFERENT

                This is the silly pretzel your emotional partisanship has got you into…

              2. Then, caught

                As usual, you have it exactly backwards. You lazily provided a paywalled article rather than supporting your claim with publicly-available information. Then, caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you’re trying to make me the bad guy for not purchasing a subscription.

                “Against this trend, the Journal’s news coverage stands as a beacon with its uniquely detached, researched, factual reporting. ”

                You’re really into isolated crop-quotes, aren’t you? It’s almost like that’s the only way you can try to hold a debate together.

                The overall message of the article is, as I’ve said several times and you’ve skirted just as many, fundamentally different than that of the recent crop of “fact checking” organizations. “We strive to report the news objectively and factually” vs. “we exist for the sole purpose of taking isolated statements by others and declaring them to be ‘true’ or ‘false’ based on a cherry-picked set of sources coupled with our own creative interpretations of both the statements and the sources.” The degree to which you have to squeeze your partisan, results-driven eyes shut to avoid seeing that clear distinction is astounding.

                1. ” You lazily provided a paywalled article ”

                  And you went on to opine about what was in or not in the site you admit you couldn’t see. And that says something bad about…me? Yeah, no wonder you hate people who claim to check facts!

                  “The overall message of the article is”

                  The one you admit…you can’t see? Unlike you, I’m talking about an article I’ve read in its entirety. It’s about how much journalism today isn’t factual but they are so they can be trusted. There’s no material distinction to be made with what you’re going on about other than some magic word formula (well, of course what you’re really going on about is that you think columnists calling themselves ‘fact checkers’ are mean to your favorite pols).

                  ““We strive to report the news objectively and factually” vs. “we exist for the sole purpose of taking isolated statements by others and declaring them to be ‘true’ or ‘false’ based on a cherry-picked set of sources coupled with our own creative interpretations of both the statements and the sources.”

                  This is a silly, untenable distinction. When journalists ‘strive to report the news objectively and factually’ they are making statements about what happened or did not, what is accurate or not. You act like if they happen to do that in regards to a specific claim it’s some radically different category.

                  1. And you went on to opine about what was in or not in the site

                    Ah, there we have it. In addition to being logic-challenged, you have a basic reading comprehension problem. I opined about the words that appeared on the page when I clicked the link you provided.

                    Unlike you, I’m talking about an article I’ve read in its entirety.

                    And it’s blissfully ironic that, in a discussion about organizations that make declarative statements and expect blind trust, you’re basing your argument on some cherry-picked language out of a source that only you have access to.

                    Bottom line: If there’s only a single paywalled article over the history of the WSJ that you feel adequately supports your argument about the WSJ, your argument is poor.

                    1. “I opined about the words that appeared on the page ”

                      “you’re basing your argument on some cherry-picked language out of a source that only you have access to”

                      Lol, Brian’s basing his argument on cherry picked language from what he knows is not the entire article!

                      “If there’s only a single paywalled article”

                      I could cite a hundred paywalled articles and I guess you’d build arguments on what is in the parts you can’t see and then say ‘gotcha cherrypicker’ if I reference what’s actually in it…

                      This is, of course, all at best a silly pedantic game at best (at worst it shows Brian’s proclivity to make generalizations about what he hasn’t even read). I think he knows that I can find major news organizations making public pledges to report ‘the facts’ and that blows his silly distinction out of the water.

                    2. “If there’s only a single paywalled article”

                      I could cite a hundred paywalled articles

                      *WHOOSH*

    3. I’ve always been dubious about professional licensure requirements, (Perhaps because I’m an unlicensed mechanical engineer with decades of experience, daily exposed to the work of licensed professionals. Do these people not understand GD&T????)

      Seems to me speech is speech, and that’s the end of it.

      1. Nobody understands GD&T.

  11. The concept of fact-checking is great. The implementation has largely been terrible. A thousand variations of “What he said was 100% true. But I think what he actually meant was XYZ, which I can show to be sort of wrong, sometimes, if you make a lot of sketchy assumptions.”

    1. Snopes is notorious for that. They want to poo-poo some factually true statement, they’ll say it implies something they don’t like, or they’ll fact check a slightly different claim that wasn’t made.

      1. Shorter Brett: “But the captain really was sober today, so why are they criticizing my statement?”

      2. Snopes are a band of mopes. Anyone with any common sense would not bother with them.

        1. Oh, they’re not so bad if checking something that lacks political implications, and will occasionally be honest about even things that hurt them, if it’s open and shut enough. But they do way too much opinion and implication checking. They should limit themselves to the strict denotations, and leave it at that.

    2. The only reason we’re talking about fact-checkers like this is because the sheer density of Trump’s lying generated vast quantities of corrections. The Augean stables didn’t generate as much shite.

  12. Another day in Michigan, another assault on the constitution from our minority-rule Republican party that not only doesn’t believe in democracy doesn’t seem to even understand the first amendment.

    Looking forward to the end of gerrymandering here so we can have a representative democracy instead of a clown show.

    1. You want a Michigan full of Whitmer bobble heads? That sounds terrible.

  13. Seems kind of like a de facto ban on using the annoying phrase popular among propagandists, “fact-checker.”

    More pragmatically though, a publicity stunt.

    1. Maybe they crapped their pants for the publicity, but they still crapped their pants.

  14. ‘Factchecking’ is basically just people slapping an I’m Correct label on their usual incorrect and opinion based rhetoric.

  15. I would criticize this bill but I don’t have a license to do so.

  16. “ No, the government can’t require people who engage in speech with a specific sort of content … register”

    Of course it can. It can certainly require registration if the sort of speech is legal advice, for example!

    This post needs additional analysis as to why certain occupational licenses for pure speech occupations (like lawyering) are permitted, but this occupational license is not permitted.

    Given the inherent danger to society posed by inaccurate fact checks – e.g., they could cause people to harm themselves by voting for the wrong politicians – this seems to me the very least we can expect from professional fact checkers.

    1. Given the inherent danger to society posed by inaccurate fact checks

      Seems like we should make lying illegal.

      1. Given that conservative media figures make a virtue out of the quick confidence of their claims/conclusions (which, as many of those tend to do, are later found to be less than fully accurate) it’s quite funny to watch their fans proffer this kind of nonsense where fact checkers are somehow uniquely dangerous journalists because they attach some magic confident words about how accurate their conclusions are. Imagine a bill from AOC to put restrictions on, say, talk radio hosts or websites who claim confidently to have ‘the facts,’ ‘the truth,’, etc. They’d be (rightly!) frothing at the mouth with Constitutional consternation.

        This boils down to: many on the Right think fact checkers are mean to the pols they like and are therefore their enemies and they have different principles for their enemies than they do their friends.

        1. Yes, many on the right think fact checkers are mean to them.
          But then I can not think of a time when the press and specifically fact checkers have been so pervasively wrong so frequently and so pervasively politically biased.

          It may be wrong for republicans to try to leverage their power in state governments to constrain fact checkers.
          But that does not mean there is not a serious problem with the press. Trust in media is at a well deserved record low.

          While republicans should trust people to sort that out on their own.
          They will eventually. Those on the left are living in an intellectual bubble that lets very little of the truth in.

      2. Reminds me of Tom Sawyer’s quip that “Faith is believing what know ain’t so.”

    2. This post needs additional analysis as to why certain occupational licenses for pure speech occupations (like lawyering) are permitted, but this occupational license is not permitted.

      Here is additional analysis (there is plenty more, but this is all you need):

      The issue is not speech. The issue is press freedom. The occupational speech you mention is not published, and hence not protected by press freedom.

      1. Why isn’t the issue speech ?
        Clearly the occupational licensees for certain professions regulate speech.
        The regulation of speech is a serious issue whether or not it is also a regulation of the press.
        You can not wish that issue to go away just because you have found another.
        Are we free to violate one right but not two ?

        1. Lathrop thinks he has discovered something about the 1A that nobody else has, that freedom of speech and the press, rather than simply referring to the two main means of communication in existence in the late 18th century, are two entirely different concepts governed by entirely different rules.

    3. I completely agree with you regarding other laws regulating occupational licensing. But regulating fact checkers is not the solution.
      We do not fix bad law regulating speech with more bad law regulating speech.

      “Given the inherent danger to society” is precisely the argument we should REJECT unequivocally.
      The remedy for bad speech is more speech, not less.

  17. Republicans say untrue things far more often than Democrats. People who point this out must be stamped out.

    1. That is an astonishingly tone-deaf thing to say. It only demonstrates the tightness of your own political blinders. Yes, Republican politicians lie. So do Democrats. For every lie said by an R, it’s a trivial exercise to find one equally outrageous said by a D. Attacks on freedom of speech threaten us all.

      1. “For every lie said by an R, it’s a trivial exercise to find one equally outrageous said by a D.”

        Lazy thinking.

        1. Trump
        2. Any Republican who disputes his lies has ended his/her career in the Republican Party.

        Democrats don’t have any counterpart to #1 or #2.

        1. Of course they do. Look at the pervasive cancel culture out there today. With few exceptions the biggest targets of leftist silencing are NOT those on the right, but those on the left.

          It is college professors on the left who say “wait a minute, the facts do not support some extreme left dogma” that are shutdown the fastest.

    2. Where are republicans “stamping people out” ?
      There is no right equivalent of “cancel culture”.
      Nor can there be. The left controls far too many institutions, the news media, social media, universities.

      Have republicans behaved similarly in the past – certainly.
      Though it has been a long time, if ever since they had the same power to silence disfavored viewpoints.

      1. ‘Though it has been a long time, if ever since they had the same power to silence disfavored viewpoints.’

        Unless it’s a prominent Republican politician saying out loud that Biden won the election. Or voters standing on line for eleven hours.

      2. Where are republicans “stamping people out” ?

        Liz Cheney says hello.

      3. Kaepernick, Alexander Vindman, and Cheney spring to mind.

  18. What the hell?
    There are no facts anymore, so who cares if someone has a license or not? If the Communist Chinese Virus response did not show clearly that there are no more facts, nothing will.
    no masks.
    one mask.
    two masks.
    masks indoors.
    masks indoors and outdoors.
    masks for the people, but not the elite.
    masks when you can’t social distance.
    masks AND social distancing.
    oh wait; don’t use a real mask, those are for doctors. use a cloth face covering, because a single layer of cheesecloth is the same as a doubled over turkish towel.
    Who is John Galt?

  19. While I disagree with this proposed regulation, how is it different from any other form of professional regulation.

    Yes, it is regulation of speech, but so are the requirements placed on lawyers, or architects or accountants. those are all professions that are fundamentally engaged in forms of commercial speech.
    Yet everyone is regulated.

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