Commentary

“International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles”

It was announced on Sept. 15, 2016 that the “International Fact-Checking Network” had released its code of principles for fact checkers, with 35 organizations signing the document to commit to its principles. Zebra Fact Check commits to the the International Fact-Checking Network’s statement of principles, according the caveats expressed in the following signing statement. (1)  A COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP AND…
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PolitiFact’s ‘Trump Effect’ failures

On Aug. 26, 2016, mainstream fact checker PolitiFact published a spectacularly awful examination of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claim that teachers were reporting a “Trump Effect” in schools involving an increase in harassment and bullying of some minority groups. PolitiFact relied for its evidence on an extremely flawed survey from the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center. PolitiFact also…
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Melania, plagiarism, media

It is July 21, 2016, and we’re seeing media stories about the short-lived outrage over the plagiarized lines in Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech from July 17. Let us pause to shed a tear for the hypocritical mainstream media. Back in 2014, our research led us to stumble across an apparent case of plagiarism at the Des Moines Register. We tried to interest some…
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American Press Institute’s call for better fact-checking

The American Press Institute published a call for better fact-checking on July 8, 2016. The authors, Jane Elizabeth of the American Press Institute and Alexios Mantzarlis of the Poynter Institute, set forth a checklist of items for fact checkers to consider as benchmarks. Without further ado: “Be the best about sourcing” Though we have worked to stand second-to-none in sourcing…
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Torture narrative trumps facts at PolitiFact

There’s no solid evidence that waterboarding works. https://t.co/rWBEn8n9r2 — Bill Adair (@BillAdairDuke) May 24, 2016   Bill Adair, Duke University’s Knight professor of computational journalism, helped found PolitiFact. That likely helps explain his “Truth-O-Meter”-ish Twitter avatar. Adair’s tweet about waterboarding helps show the way mainstream fact checkers help reinforce false partisan beliefs, in this case the popular narrative that torture…
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Trump supporters & truth: A reply to Rider University’s Michelle A. Amazeen

Last week I posted in reply to Politico’s Jack Shafer, who suggested in an article that Trump supporters don’t care if Trump does not tell the truth. We responded with a post suggesting Trump supporters have reason to distrust fact checkers such as PolitiFact. We tagged Shafer in a tweet highlighting our reply and Shafer retweeted it. Meanwhile Michelle A….
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A reply to Politico’s Jack Shafer

In a Dec. 24, 2015 column, Politico’s Jack Shafer wonders why the mainstream media fact checkers have no discernible effect on the presidential race. Republican Donald Trump, for example, pays them about the same heed Godzilla pays the Japanese Air Force. Shafer writes: It would stand to reason that the documentation of Trump’s lies—not to mention his rudeness and crudeness—would…
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PolitiFact vs. Rubio on defense spending

Back in May 2015 PolitiFact, specifically PolitiFact Florida, published an amazingly incompetent fact check. PolitiFact Florida’s fact check looked at whether Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio was right that the United States is not building aircraft, aircraft carriers and submarines. PolitiFact Florida said it found plenty of evidence the United States was building aircraft, aircraft carriers and submarines, rating Rubio’s…
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Review: “His Lips Are Moving: Pinocchio Effect and Other Lexical Indicators of Political Deceptions”

Near the tail end of November 2015 somebody shared with me a link to an NPR story about a new study looking at the lexical features of political lying, “Researchers Examine How to Spot a Lying Politician“: SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Well, Steve, this is research by social scientists who are doing what social scientists do, which is they look for…
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Fact-checker agreement—and disagreement

In recent months we’ve pored over a pair of scholarly works on the topic of fact-checking. One, Checking the Fact-checkers in 2008: Predicting Political Ad Scrutiny and Assessing Consistency by Michele A. Amazeen, we reviewed earlier this year. The second, a doctoral dissertation by former PolitiFact writer Lucas Graves, contains much material we’ll address in one way or another over…
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