Commentary

Revisiting the Romney Jeep ad

Fact Checkers are Great Because They Condemned Mitt Romney’s Jeep Ad? In the peer-reviewed article Revisiting the Epistemology of Fact-Checking, researcher Michelle A. Amazeen offers readers an example of the beneficial effects of good fact-checking: When a framework of fact-checking becomes established, it should become more difficult for a politician to fabricate claims. For example, at the end of the…
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Review: ‘Checking the Fact-Checkers in 2008: Predicting Political Ad Scrutiny and Assessing Consistency’

In 2014 we first heard of a branch of scholarly research purporting to support the accuracy of mainstream fact checking. The research was mentioned in a paper by political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler, The Effect of Fact-checking on Elites: A field experiment on U.S. state legislators: While individual fact-checks sometimes veer into punditry or semantic disputes (Marx 2012;…
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The give and take on political donations

Occasionally the mainstream fact checker PolitiFact will publish an article giving an overview of a fact check topic. But two recent fact checks of political attack ads point to the need for one PolitiFact has yet to publish: the relevance of the source of political campaign cash. On March 27, 2014, PolitiFact published a fact check of an ad by…
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Michael Hiltzik wrong on Social Security

Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik blasted PolitiFact Oregon, among other PolitiFacts, with a Sept. 10, 2014 column titled “Another ‘fact-checker’ gets Social Security wrong.” We have complaints about the PolitiFact Oregon item, also. But Hiltzik’s demagogy takes precedence. This paragraph encapsulates Hiltzik’s most objectionable points: The money accounted for in the trust fund was borrowed by the federal government…
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The importance of interpretation: a PolitiFact example

PolitiFact published a brief guide to its fact check process recently on Aug. 20, 2014. It wasn’t bad at all. PolitiFact’s PunditFact published a fact check of former Texas congressman Tom DeLay on Aug. 31, 2014. It was pretty bad. How does this happen? How does a solid outline for fact checking claims turn into amateurish and ridiculous fact checks?…
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Once more unto the gender pay gap

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead.” Henry V, from Shakespeare’s “Henry V”   Mainstream media fact checkers have done a lousy job of alerting their readers to Democrats’ deceptive gender pay gap claims.  We’ll review the fact checks of the pay gap issue from FactCheck.org, the Washington Post…
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Factcheck.org vs. PolitiFact on Florida Gov. Rick Scott

In June 2014, FactCheck.org and PolitiFact Florida fact checked the same ad from the Florida Democratic Party.  The ad attacked incumbent Florida Governor Rick Scott (R-Fla.).  A comparison of the fact checks helps explain why we view FactCheck.org as the current king of the fact-checking hill, with PolitiFact occupying the other end of the spectrum. The Florida Democratic Party aired…
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‘Statistically representative’ debate misleads

A viral video featuring the latest news comedian’s take on the climate change debate caught our attention this week. Comedian John Oliver’s HBO program “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” follows a trail blazed by John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  As with Stewart and Colbert, we’re willing to cut Oliver a break on the accuracy of his content.  He’s a…
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A Kessler Glennocchio on the 97 percent consensus

We ran across a fact check from May of 2013 recently while looking at search hits on the 97 percent consensus claim.  The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, gave four “Pinocchios” to a Republican who denied a scientific consensus on the role of humans in driving climate change. Kessler’s fact check topped the list of search engine hits.  That…
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An ‘Equal Pay Day’ Glennocchio

Jack Marshall of the Ethics Alarms blog slammed Democrats for their gender wage gap demagoguery with an April 15 post.  That post directly inspires this critique of Glenn Kessler’s treatment of the gender pay gap.  Kessler writes the Washington Post’s fact checks as the Washington Post Fact Checker. The key deception the Democrats use on the gender pay gap issue…
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