Commentary

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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Review: “The Epistemology of Fact Checking”

A critical review of and reflection on The Epistemology of Fact Checking by Joseph E. Uscinski and Ryden W. Butler   epis·te·mol·o·gy:  the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity   In their paper The Epistemology of Fact Checking (hereafter “Epistemology“), published in October 2013, authors Joseph E….
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Working paper doesn’t work

A critical review of  Lying in Politics: Evidence from the US, a working paper by Alessandro Bucciol and Luca Zarri Researchers Alessandro Bucciol (assistant professor of econometrics) and Luca Zarri (associate professor of economics), both of the University of Verona, wanted to examine the tendency of politicians to lie.  But they were confronted the problem of objectively assessing whether and…
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Obama and “what we said was”

President Obama official portrait

How PolitiFact’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” selection was even worse than you thought It was Nov. 4, 2013, and insurance companies had already started to send cancellation notices to customers whose policies failed to meet the administration’s “essential benefits” standards under the Affordable Care Act.  The media recognized the failure of the president’s pledge that Americans could keep the…
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