Reasoning: Extreme Right, Conspiracy, Propaganda, Numerous Failed Fact Checks
World Press Freedom Rank: USA 45/180
Founded in 1994 by Larry Klayman, Judicial Watch (JW) is an American conservative activist group that files Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to investigate alleged misconduct by government officials. They primarily target Democrats such as the Clinton’s, Obama, and climate scientists as they label climate science, “fraud science.” Judicial Watch has made numerous false and unsubstantiated claims, with a “vast majority” of their lawsuits dismissed. They describe themselves as “a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability, and integrity in government, politics and the law.” The current President of JW is Tom Fitton.
Funded by / Ownership
Judicial Watch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with contributions received from individuals, foundations, and corporations. According to Sourcewatch, JW receives funding from prominent right-wing organizations such as the Carthage Foundation and Scafie Foundation.
Analysis / Bias
Judicial Watch reports news on their website with the use of strong emotional language that is usually pro-right or anti-left. Common topics covered are anti-immigration, in which they highlight crimes committed by illegal immigrants such as this: Busy Month for Illegal Immigrants Committing Heinous Crimes or dedicating an entire website to exposing former President Obama’s alleged IRS scandal. They have also promoted debunked conspiracy theories such as this. Further, the founder of JW, Larry Klayman recently promoted the conspiracy that the Clintons were killing people. In general, the majority of content and story selection is anti-left.
A factual search reveals a horrible track record with fact-checking. Below is a small sample of their failed fact checks by IFCN fact checkers
- DHS Quietly Moving, Releasing ‘Vanloads’ of ‘Illegal Aliens’ Away from Border – FALSE
- Has Nancy Pelosi spent $100,000 on food, booze and “partying” during her air travel? – FALSE
- Judicial Watch says ISIS operating a camp in Mexico–near El Paso – FALSE
- ‘Islamic Refugee’ with Gas Pipeline Plans Arrested in New Mexico Border County – FALSE
- Did the IRS ‘Fast Track’ Tax-Exempt Status for ‘After School Satan’ Clubs? – FALSE
- “More than 100,000 DACA applicants have been arrested—Murder, Rape, DUI.” – MOSTLY FALSE
- Did a legal settlement between Judicial Watch and California election officials prove that one million illegal votes were cast in the 2018 elections in California? – FALSE (4/29/2020)
Overall, we rate Judicial Watch Questionable based on extreme right-wing bias, promotion of conspiracy theories, and a very poor fact check record. (7/19/2016) Updated (D. Van Zandt 04/29/2020)