Author Archive: Bryan W. White

Brooks Jackson and firefighting

Brooks Jackson, the founder of Annenberg Fact Check, published a review in December of his past nine years at  Titled “Firefighters, Fact-Checking and American Journalism,” the review focuses largely on the role of the fact checker. Jackson deserves credit for steering what is and has been the best fact-checking organization.  But his defense of mainstream fact checking does much…
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Two new rating icons added

Over the past weekend we created two new icons for use with our rating system. First, we filled the anticipated need for an “out of context” icon. We also added an icon for use with statements that rely on or suggest apples-to-oranges comparisons. More planned changes include a revised front-page presentation as well as  category pages that display only a…
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Fact checking the White House infographic about Plan B

On Dec. 26, Zebra Fact Check published an evaluation of claims by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi about the Republicans’ “Plan B” for resolving fiscal cliff negotiations. In that article, we noted that the White House put forth a statement similar to Pelosi’s on the official White House blog, and did it with “Get the facts” in the headline. The…
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Does the Republican ‘Plan B’ raise taxes on working families while giving millionaires a tax break?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “As I’ve said to you before, Plan B is to send a bill to your children and grandchildren in order to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in our country, and still those making over a million dollars get a $50,000 tax cut, we’ll add nearly a half a trillion dollars to the…
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Atwitter about the framers and guns

Attributed to Thomas Jefferson on Twitter:  “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” Attributed to Benjamin Franklin on Twitter:  “Never trust a government that doesn’t trust its own citizens with guns.” A massacre at a Connecticut elementary school last week has led to a great deal of news about gun control proposals along…
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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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