After an exclusive report on DANGEROUS was published Friday calling into question whether the most bizarre person in public life, Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, could legally use the word “psychologist” in her title when presenting herself publicly, the “fact checking” website Snopes has doubled down in its defense of Ford and further exposed its remarkably bold leftwing bias.
Yet, even after Snopes deemed the DANGEROUS story to be “False,” the leftwing site admitted it could also not verify that Ford had a license in psychology. Snopes wrote, “the title ‘psychologist’ is indeed protected, meaning that it is against the law to falsely represent oneself as a psychologist without proper certification.” According to public records, Ford does not have a license in psychology.
Snopes then went on to selectively look at sections of California’s Business and Professional code in order to manufacture a label of “false” on the DANGEROUS report. The original DANGEROUS article, written by Chadwick Moore and published Sept. 28, took a much more expansive look at the law than Snopes did. The original article details how Ford may have perjured herself in the first sentence she uttered during her testimony last Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under questioning, Ford identified herself as a “research psychologist”, in violation of California’s Business and Professional Code, as it pertains to who may, and who may not, refer to themselves as a “psychologist” and under what circumstances. The law states that while Ford may use the title “research psychologist” within her place of employment, she may under no circumstances use that word anywhere in her title or job description when she holds herself out to the public, unless she is licensed. The law is clearly intended not only as a measure of consumer protection, but also to preserve the integrity of the Board, its members, and the reputation of licensed psychologists. It appears under the law the way Ford identified herself publicly was the equivalent of someone who isn’t a doctor saying, “My name is John Doe, I’m a professor of medicine and a research physician.” A more appropriate way for Ford to have identified herself would have been as “a researcher at the Stanford School of Medicine.”
Ford is also not a doctor, though many in the public believe that she is. Ford holds a doctorate but is not a member of the medical community. Ford’s insistence on being addressed as “Dr.” is on the exact same level as someone with a Ph.D in literature, for example, preferring to be addressed as “Dr.” Even NPR has acknowledges this, which is why that organization doesn’t refer to Ford as “Dr.” in its reporting.
Snopes attempted to exonerate the not-licensed-psychologist Ford by citing Section 2909, which states: “This chapter shall not be construed as restricting or preventing activities of a psychological nature or the use of the official title of the position for which they were employed on the part of the following persons, provided those persons are performing those activities as part of the duties for which they were employed, are performing those activities solely within the confines of or under the jurisdiction of the organization in which they are employed, and do not render or offer to render psychological services, as defined in Section 2903″
Moore also acknowledged Section 2909 in his original report, and pointed to the fact that the overwhelming majority of academics who do work of a psychological nature are not licensed, and this is perfectly fine and legal. But Moore pointed to the following section of the law, Section 2910 of the same Code, which reads, very explicitly, “This chapter shall not be construed to restrict the practice of psychology on the part of persons who are salaried employees of accredited or approved academic institutions, public schools, or governmental agencies, if those employees are complying with the following: (3) Do not hold themselves out to the public by any title or description of activities incorporating the words “psychology,” “psychological,” or “psychologist.”
When contacted by a fake news reporter from Snopes named Bethania Palma, Moore reminded her that Section 2910 of the law addresses how academics who are not licensed psychologists are to conduct themselves publicly. The key word of Moore’s entire report, and which he was drawing into question without making any direct accusations, was Ford’s public presentation. Although Moore never directly accused Ford of lying or committing perjury — she may have made a mistake — he pointed out she appears to have been in violation of the law in the way she publicly presented herself. And if Ford knowingly deceived the Senate Judiciary Committee, because the word “psychologist” combined with the title “Dr.” would make her seem more credible and respectable, then this could be a very serious offense.
In fact, the law is so specific about what those working in the psychology field are allowed to call themselves publicly, Article 5 even acknowledges the very small number of unlicensed professionals who may used the word “psychologist” in their title publicly. That includes and is limited to “school psychologists” and “assistant psychologists.” It does not include “research psychologists.”
In the Snopes targeted and misleading hit job against this magazine and Moore, it intentionally ignored Section 2910 and Article 5, which was the basis of the entire DANGEROUS report. By ignoring Section 2910, Palma’s report was intentionally misleading and blatantly biased. Palma also claims Moore didn’t respond to requests for comment. This is false. Palma originally contacted Moore late Friday evening and he responded within minutes and was very happy to assist in her fact finding mission. Palma then waited three days and contacted Moore a second time at 6:57 pm EST on Monday evening, one hour before she published her fake, intentionally biased report. Moore says he didn’t see the email until later that evening after the Snopes report was published because, in his words, “the only people who check their phone at dinner time are lonely, ice cream guzzling cat ladies who work for Snopes.”
Even if Ford was simply stating her role at Stanford, referring to herself as a “research psychologist” in the most public forum imaginable – under oath, before the Senate, on international television – DANGEROUS called into question if this was a violation of the conditions of the privileges granted in Section 2909 as outlined in Section 2910.
Section 2909 is the only basis of Snopes’s malicious claims against DANGEROUS and Moore. Again, Snopes ignored the section of the law that immediately follows that, even though Moore directly pointed Palma to that section when she emailed him on Friday. Moore noted in his original report that professionals working in the field of psychology are allowed to use whatever title they want within their institutions, but the word “psychologist” is protected under law and one can not “hold themselves out to the public under any title” using that word.
While this may seem like splitting hairs, dozens of licensed psychologists left comments on social media and reached out to the DANGEROUS staff to say that the issue around Ford is a very big deal and that she would have been aware of the law. In its fake report, Snopes did not contact a lawyer when fact-checking the DANGEROUS article. Instead, it contacted an assistant executive named Jeffrey Thomas at the California Board of Psychology who pointed Snopes to Section 2909, and possibly to Section 2910 as well but, if he did, Snopes selectively ignored that part. It should be noted, the California Board of Psychology are not legislators and did not write the law and are not experts in interpreting the law. They are a licensing board.
Snopes also admitted it did not speak to anyone at Ford’s place of employment, Stanford University, or Ford’s attorneys. Hours after the DANGEROUS story broke, editors on Wikipedia noticed Ford had been falsely identified as a “psychologist” and changed her occupation to “Professor of Psychology.” As noted in the original report, multiple leftwing media outlets falsely referred to Ford simply as a “psychologist,” even leaving off “research.” Snopes did not respond to questions as to whether any of those stories would be “fact-checked.”
The most direct assertion, and the easiest to fact-check, made in the DANGEROUS article was to clarify the fact that Ford did not hold a license. Snopes found this bit of easily found public knowledge just too difficult to look up for themselves and determine if it were true or not. The DANGEROUS article exposed the fact that, despite common perception, Ford is not a psychologist, despite what her official title at Stanford may at one point have been.
Although Snopes is a laughingstock to most media professionals, and has been for years, there are real consequences to Snopes’s false accusations against DANGEROUS. Snopes works closely with Facebook to identify, monitor and report what it deems to be “fake news” sites, and to suppress their reach and influence on social media. If sites are in repeated violation according to the highly biased reports from Snopes, those sites are suppressed in Facebook’s algorithms.
In attempting to label this publication “fake news,” Snopes has engaged in actual fake reporting to manufacture a false report that did not address the central claim of the original article. In our estimation, this has deeply compromised Snopes’s ability to perform the role for which Facebook has contracted it.
As an aside, the author of the original article was, understandably, moderately peeved to have his journalistic integrity called into question by such mendacious and obviously partisan liars. He responded to the author of the Snopes piece with his typical aplomb and diplomacy, calling her a “sick fuck.”
We stand by our reporting, and by our esteemed Editor-in-Chief. Snopes is #FakeNews.
Cathlene Lott is Tiffany Trump correspondent for DANGEROUS.
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