Snopes Refuses to Fact Check Newsweek on Fake Orwell Quote

  • Disgraced Fact Check outfit Snopes checked an alleged quote by Orwell that is misattributed, but refuses to apply the fact-check to a Newsweek article

  • Left-wing fact check outfits regularly nitpick right-wing outlets but allow rampant misinformation by left-wing media outlets

OUR RATING: Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work.

Indicted Outlet: Dan MacGuill | Snopes | Link | Archive | 9/20/21

Some on social media have shared an alleged quote from George Orwell.

Here is the relevant quote:

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more they will hate those that speak it.”

Snopes’ Dan MacGuill, a VIP repeat customer of TGP FactCheck, notes that the quote likely originates from writer Selwyn Duke from a 2009 article.

Selwyn Duke - Freelance Writer - Selwyn Duke | LinkedIn

Selwyn Duke, notably not George Orwell or Eric Blair

What MacGuill fails to tell his readers is that in 2018 Newsweek published the quote and identified Orwell as the author. [1] If the quotation is worthy of a fact-check, then Newsweek deserves the fact check penalty.

Instead, MacGuill only applies the fact check to the people sharing it on socials, and ignores the fact that a major media outlet, Newsweek, is still verifying the debunked quote years later.

Major Violations:

  • Double Standards

  • Missing Context

Other fact-check outlets (Reuters [2]; Lead Stories [3]) have repeated the same research: that Selwyn Duke appears to be the source of the ‘society drifts’ quote and not Orwell.

Duke took credit for the quote in a 2016 article in the American Thinker. [4]

Newsweek’s faulty 2018 article listing a wide variety of quotes sourced to Orwell, including the Duke quote, is still the third result on Google when you search for the full-text of Orwell’s quote.

In the 2018 Newsweek article, here is how Newsweek writer Nina Godlewski erroneously quotes Orwell:

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it,” he wrote on truth.

Godlewski is referencing and citing to a book by Orwell called “Orwell on Truth” posthumously published in 2017 as a collection of excerpts from Orwell’s other writings. [5]

Orwell, whose real name was Eric Blair, was born in 1903 and died in 1950. [6]

The Duke quote does not appear in Orwell’s “On Truth” even though Newsweek’s Godlewski says it does.

Yet MacGuill in Snopes, writing three years after the 2018 Newsweek article in 2021, refuses to correct Newsweek.

Here’s how MacGuill sources the emergence of the quote:

In August and September 2021, an old quotation, attributed to the English novelist George Orwell, re-emerged on social media.

Snopes is using double standards in order to avoid penalizing Newsweek. One feature of the fact check industrial complex is that there are groups like Snopes that research, investigate, and publish their findings but there are also related organizations that weaponize that research to punish and penalize the advertisers from media outlets that get too many fact checks.

So even though the Washington Post commits flagrant factual abuses every day, they never get dinged by fact check bureaus because that could conceivably dramatically affect their actual bottom line. Alternative conservative media, however, is always fair game for financial punishment from these zealots.

Snopes will often rate an article ‘false’ because of very minor, nitpicking, kind of problems. But here, predictably, they refuse to penalize a member of the left-wing media club.

One other piece of missing context is that even the Duke quote is a paraphrase from the Christian Bible, in John 15:18-19 where Christ instructs his disciples that they will be hated if they preach the truth to the world. [7] 

18 “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

19   If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

If a Snopes writer favorably and approvingly quoted Jesus Christ I would expect them to immediately self-immolate, so I won’t ding them for not doing so but in fairness to the Lord I figure we should note that He said the original formulation first.

OUR RATING: Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work. 

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