Both Judge and Party? Investigating the Political Unbiasedness of Fact-checker
This paper provides the first statistical study of political differences between factcheckers. I collect a comprehensive dataset of articles published by the six main generalinterest French fact-checkers up until July 2021 and identify the political orientations of entities that are fact-checked. French fact-checkers commit to non-partisanship, but they are affiliated with a media outlet that may have a political leaning. I find that fact-checkers’ political content exhibits differences that are consistent with the leaning of the affiliated media outlets. Fact-checkers are less likely to fact-check ideologically aligned entities, and when they do, they are more likely to agree with them. Moreover, fact-checkers with connections to the government fact-check the incumbent party less often. Finally, political differences increase before elections. Replicating the analysis for U.S. fact-checkers to test the external validity yields similar results.