"If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out!"
That's how a longtime foreign correspondent I know underscored the importance of fact-checking. It's a sentiment we take to heart at the Monitor's commentary section: Assume nothing. Verify everything.
In practice, such rigor can mean long, tedious stretches poring over footnotes in PDFs (sorry, Wikipedia usually doesn't count). But sometimes, fact-checking requires us to...watch YouTube video clips. And yesterday, the juxtaposition between two clips I watched in short order was anything but eye-crossingly dull.
The viewings arose out of my editing of a piece (coming out in next week's print edition) about the US border fence with Mexico. The writer, Scott Nicol, referred to "build the danged fence" rhetoric. Really, does anyone say "danged" anymore? Better check it out. And sure enough, YouTube offered me this proof – in the form of a TV ad from Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona:
Lest there be any doubt, there's even an accompanying website called "completethedangedfence.com."
In the ad, Senator McCain and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu are seen walking next to the 18-foot-tall steel columns that make up the border wall. The wall looks quite imposing, the kind of structure you'd need specialized training and equipment to surmount.
Yet the oped writer, Mr. Nicol, referenced a recent video showing two young women scaling the border fence in under 20 seconds. You have to see it to believe it:
So is the border wall a crucial component of what the first ad calls a "perfect" security plan – or is it a costly and ineffective joke? Both clips are tendentious, of course, so they shouldn't be the last word on such an important topic. But it's clear that these clips are worth a thousand footnotes.