India’s propaganda websites masquerading as fact-checkers aren’t only biased — they’re also woefully incompetent.
Discredited fact-checker Alt News, which has been exposed countless times for spreading fake news and propaganda, today tried to fact-check PM Modi’s speech on vaccine centralization . Through a series of selective quotes, the fact-check attempted to insinuate that states hadn’t demanded the decentralization of vaccine procurement as PM Modi had claimed in his speech. “The Prime Minister’s attempt to deflect the blame to the states is unfounded,” the supposed fact-check concluded.
But alert Twitter user Ankur Singh, who has often exposed how Alt News runs fake propaganda, pointed out a series of mistakes in Alt News’ fact check. He pointed out that Alt News had not considered Mamata Banerjee’s letter to the Centre dated 18th April, in which she’d specifically demanded that states be able to buy vaccines.
More insidiously, Alt News had attempted to mislead readers, claiming that Rahul Gandhi had merely pointed out that states be given “greater say” in vaccine procurement, which didn’t automatically mean that he wanted states to be given agency in buying vaccines. But in the very same letter, which Alt News had hidden from its users, Rahul Gandhi had spoken about how states were bypassed in procurement, hinting that he wanted states to procure vaccines themselves.
Even more bizarrely, Alt News had claimed that apart from the ones mentioned in its fact-check, no other opposition leader had wanted. Ankur Singh exposed this claim too, sharing a letter from Tamil Nadu leader MK Stalin in which he’d asked for states to be allowed to buy vaccines.
After Ankur Singh’s thread exposing Alt News went viral, the propaganda website realized it had gone a bit too far in trying to spread fake news, and edited its article. It’s removed the fake claims it had made, and added a note at the end. “This report missed a portion of Rahul Gandhi’s letter to the PM which said that states have been overlooked right from vaccine procurement to registration. The portion has been added. MK Stalin’s statements, both before and after he took the office of Tamil Nadu CM, have also been added to the report,” the note said.
But perhaps what really reveals Alt News’ agenda is how the conclusion of the fact-check still remains unchanged — the fact-check, in spite of the new information, still laughably concludes by calling PM Modi’s accusations unfounded. Which just goes to show how Alt News conducts fact-checks — it first starts with what the conclusion of what its fact-check is going to be, and then seeks or makes up facts to fit its narrative.