Commentary

Project Veritas vs. the Washington Post

On Nov. 27, 2017, the Washington Post published a story about a woman who pitched to it a false allegation about Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore. The story associated the woman, identified as Jaime T. Phillips, to James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. Project Veritas uses undercover sting operations to help expose liberal media bias. Who comes out ahead, the Post or…
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Kicked off insurance? Fact-checking the Fact Checker

To what degree do GOP health care reform proposals kick people off health insurance? Is there a Democrat who has failed to repeat the talking point that one or another such bill will kick some millions off their insurance? The claim appears ubiquitous, yet fact checkers like the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact have pretty much ignored the deceptive…
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Fact checkers take odd approach to Trump Southwest border claim

President Donald J. Trump has said illegal border crossings dipped 78 percent under his administration. Mainstream fact checkers have lumped that claim in with an associated claim, that immigration has gone up under other administrations. Their fact checks have tended to focus on this second claim instead of Trump’s claim of a 78 percent decrease. PolitiFact piqued our interest in…
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Why the “elite three” fact checkers miss out on public trust

America’s “elite three” fact checkers all bring an inconsistent approach to fact checks that address budget cuts. Specifically, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and the Washington Post Fact Checker each defended the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act against the charge it cut Medicare.  But each made sure that the Republicans’ 2017 budget proposals for Medicaid were understood as clear budget cuts. The cases had…
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Review: ‘Heroes or hacks: The partisan divide over fact-checking’

Does a partisan divide exist in attitudes toward political fact checkers? Bill Adair and Rebecca Iannucci of Duke University and the Duke Reporter’s Lab took up the question in a June 17, 2017 report, Heroes or hacks: The partisan divide over fact-checking, hereafter HOH. We will review HOH in two sections, first critiquing the report itself and second exploring the…
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Do fact checkers follow their principles?

A look at the International Fact-Checking Network’s effort to enforce its code of principles In 2016 the mainstream media and its fact-checking brethren discovered the threat of “fake news” and started moving to protect people from the threat. Facebook acknowledged the problem by arranging for fact-checkers to flag intentionally false “news” stories. To help quell public concerns that biased fact-checkers…
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The Secret to Transparency (Updated)

In late 2016 the International Fact-Checking Network issued a statement of principles held in common by its members.* Today we looked at the IFCN’s methods for evaluating compliance with its code of principles. Our examination of the process, as it is described, left us with concerns. In particular, the methods the IFCN chose to help ensure compliance with its statement…
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Poynter: A Florida gag order on climate change?

Note (Dec. 29, 2016): We have updated this item in response to a critique from Aaron Huertas, the main target of our criticism. Find a description of the changes as well as the original version of the article here. Did Florida’s state government issue a gag order stopping state employees from discussing climate change? A Dec. 22, 2016 article published…
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PolitiFact California walks back its ‘conversion therapy’ ruling

On July 29, 2016, we fact checked PolitiFact California’s ruling finding it “True” that Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence once advocated diverting federal money from AIDS care efforts toward gay “conversion therapy.” On Dec. 2, 2016 PolitiFact California changed its ruling to “Half True.” As with Snopes.com’s “Mixture” rating of the claim about Pence and conversion therapy, we regard…
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Is context optional at PolitiFact?

If it’s about Trump it’s too good to check? Fact checkers in 2016 (not to mention 2015) showed a tendency to take vague statements from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and upgrade those statements via interpretation into relatively clear statements. On December 2, 2016  a new PolitiFact story led us indirectly to a great example of this tendency. Lauren Carroll’s…
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