Commentary

George Washington and the Second Amendment: Unsettling the question with expert opinions

While fact checking claims PolitiFact Texas made in its fact check of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) I ran into the problem of experts giving contradictory opinions. Gohmert answered a journalist’s question about the justification for citizens having arms similar to those used by law enforcement.  Gohmert said his reason was the same as the one that George Washington had for…
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John McManus’ ‘SMELL test’

Veteran journalism critic John McManus came forth with a good article on evaluating online information sources, published online by PBS. “Don’t Be Fooled: Use the SMELL Test To Separate Fact from Fiction Online” encourages readers to test claims with a process that follows the SMELL acronym:   Introducing the SMELL test S stands for Source. Who is providing the information?…
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Brooks Jackson and firefighting

Brooks Jackson, the founder of Annenberg Fact Check, published a review in December of his past nine years at FactCheck.org.  Titled “Firefighters, Fact-Checking and American Journalism,” the review focuses largely on the role of the fact checker. Jackson deserves credit for steering what is and has been the best fact-checking organization.  But his defense of mainstream fact checking does much…
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Experts and agendas

Journalists who fact check tend to rely on experts. It makes sense.  Journalists possess limited pools of knowledge, and that knowledge is mostly of a general character.  Journalists know something about quite a few things rather than having a great deal of knowledge about one specific thing. Therein lies the dilemma for the fact checking journalist.  Which expert is right…
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The reason behind the journalistic fact check movement

I’ve blogged in the past that the recent trend for journalists to engage in political fact checking amounts to a type of power play.  A guest column by Mike Deupree in Iowa’s The Register yesterday helped inspire me to sharpen the point. “At some point,” writes Deupree, “some journalists — probably frustrated because readers weren’t making the decisions the journalists…
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Introducing Zebra Fact Check

Journalists trend ideologically left. That’s just a fact.   In findings likely to fuel the raging debate over the issue of media bias, a new book concludes that the nation’s journalists have moved a bit to the right since the 1990s, but are still considerably more liberal than the general public. This political snapshot of the media comes from the…
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