Commentary

Fact Checker Fail on Pre-existing Conditions

The Washington Post Fact Checker Turns Fact-Checking on its Head Health care has emerged as a key issue for the 2018 mid-term elections. The mainstream press has largely supported a narrative that support for a lawsuit asserting the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional shows opposition to protections for pre-existing conditions. The Washington Post Fact Checker published a fact check showcasing…
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When Fact Checkers Can’t See Error

Two examples from the past several weeks help solidify our impression that the new journalistic genre of “fact-checking” needs a basic upgrade. In both examples, key principals in the fact-checking industry could not see an error staring them in the face.   PolitiFact, Louis Jacobson On Sept. 12, 2018 PolitiFact published a fact check of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough through…
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What if Fact Checkers Knew Logic?

An Aug. 3, 2018 PolitiFact fact check of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Medicare For All helps show the disadvantages of issuing fact check ratings without the benefit of logic. PolitiFact’s system ends up giving a “Half True” rating to Sanders’ entirely spurious argument. PolitiFact quotes Sanders to introduce his argument: Sanders said, “Let me thank the Koch Brothers of…
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Fisking Newsy’s Flimsy Fact Check Fix

PolitiFact recently partnered with a television news channel, Newsy, to spread its fact-checking content. Ordinarily the video version of a fact-check simplifies the fact check and further distorts any inaccuracies. But the Newsy version of a July 2, 2018 PolitiFact fact check actually does a more complete job of reporting. That said, the fact check of a President Trump claim…
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Fact checker rating systems: Why?

Last month we asked the director of the International Fact-Checking Network, Alexios Mantzarlis, to give the strongest comprehensive case in favor of fact-checking organizations using rating systems. We asked because most fact-checking organizations use some sort of sliding scale rating system. Given the popularity of the practice we felt it was beneficial to encourage the IFCN to publish a rationale…
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Accountability? The International Fact-Checking Network Re-verifies PolitiFact

Does the International Fact-Checking Network effectively confirm that its list of “verified” signatories follows its code of principles? The task makes for a tall order, and we see plenty of reason to doubt. Over the years PolitiFact has impressed us with its ability to ignore well-reasoned criticisms sent to its staff in response to its invitation to find problems with…
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Why Fact Checkers Need a Watchdog

Who fact checks the fact checkers? Since it started publishing occasional fact checks in 2010, Zebra Fact Check has found quite a few significant errors by mainstream media fact checkers. Unfortunately, our criticisms only rarely result in adequate changes in the original mainstream media fact checks. We held out some hope that the International Fact-Checking Network, hosted by the Poynter…
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