Author Archive: Bryan W. White

The “true” ruling

We use the “true” icon when our analysis allows for the truth of a statement either based on an obvious interpretation or else a charitable interpretation. If the analysis applies a charitable interpretation to allow for the “true” rating then one of three icons representing charitable interpretation will accompany the “true” icon.

The Zebr-O-Meter?

Not long after I first started criticizing the fact checkers at PolitiFact, I declared that I could come up with a better system of rating fact checks than the “Truth-O-Meter” system PolitiFact uses. I gradually fleshed out the main idea over the course of a year. The system would not jam statements into ill-defined categories and would summarize the key…
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Batting averages for the 2012 San Francisco Giants get the quintile treatment

This post serves as a companion to a commentary post on the biased nature of expert opinion. What if we treated the batting order of the 2012 San Francisco Giants like the Brookings Institution treated five equal groups, or quintiles, of American taxpayers? Batting averages serve as a handy parallel.  Most Americans are somewhat familiar with baseball.  And the batting…
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Experts and agendas

Journalists who fact check tend to rely on experts. It makes sense.  Journalists possess limited pools of knowledge, and that knowledge is mostly of a general character.  Journalists know something about quite a few things rather than having a great deal of knowledge about one specific thing. Therein lies the dilemma for the fact checking journalist.  Which expert is right…
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That’s not charity

I had hoped the day would not come when I would have to add a corrections page. This is the day. In the fact check published just minutes ago, we belatedly realized that the charitable interpretation of the statement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus just doesn’t make sense. And a charitable interpretation that doesn’t make sense hardly qualifies as charity….
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Is it true that ‘Across the board tax rate cuts are regressive’?

The Congressional Progressive Caucus:  “Across the board tax rate cuts are regressive because a 20 percent tax cut for a millionaire – even as a share of income – amounts to a far greater benefit than a 20 percent cut for a hardworking low income American.” Overview On Dec. 1, 2012 the Congressional Progressive Caucus released its guiding principles for…
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Does the Obama tax proposal save almost $1.16 trillion?

With fiscal cliff negotiations underway, President Obama lobbies for his tax proposal using the White House website. The White House infographic says his tax proposal will “save almost $1.16 trillion.” Overview The portion of the infographic above appears to deal only with Mr. Obama’s proposal on changes to the tax system.  His “savings” are apparently nothing more than revenues acquired…
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Is the United States “the oldest democracy in the world”?

Sometimes political statements include would-be facts that pique our curiosity but aren’t of any special importance to the overall message.  One such occurred during President Obama’s joint press conference with Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra:   PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me just say, first of all, that democracy is not something that is static; it’s something that we constantly have…
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Is it worth trying to improve on FactCheck.org?

I’m on record calling Annenberg Fact Check, perhaps better known as FactCheck.org, the gold standard for mainstream fact checking.  At the same time I’m trying to make the case that there’s ample room for competition.  There’s potential to supplant today’s gold standard with an improved standard. A Nov. 14 story by former PolitiFact writer Robert Farley serves as an example. …
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A ‘clear majority’ favor addressing the deficit with a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts?

President Obama: “By the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me. So we’ve got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we’re going to be serious about deficit reduction, we’ve got to do it in a balanced way.”   Overview President Obama made his remark about voters agreeing with him during…
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