Zebra Fact Checks

Fact checks and commentary articles that fact check fact checkers

Lauren Carroll, PolitiFact botch the “Trump Effect”

“They asked about 2,000 K-12 teachers who reported in large part that they were seeing an increase in bullying, especially among immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslim students.” —PolitiFact Senior Writer Lauren Carroll, during an Aug. 27, 2016 appearance on MSNBC Live.   Overview Fact-checker Lauren Carroll passed along false information to the MSNBC audience, reproducing and magnifying errors from…
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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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Conversion therapy, Mike Pence and PolitiFact California

“TRUE: Mike Pence advocated for ‘conversion therapy’” —Headline of a PolitiFact California fact check of a statement by California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, July 27, 2016   Summary PolitiFact’s California franchise somehow mistakes no evidence at all for clear evidence, apparently conflating “sexual behavior” with “sexual orientation.” The Facts On July 27 at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, California Lt….
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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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Eugene Kiely’s misleading spin

“Cheney wrongly claimed that the U.S. prosecuted Japanese soldiers ‘for a lot of stuff’ but ‘not for waterboarding.’ While they weren’t solely prosecuted for waterboarding, Japanese soldiers were prosecuted for torturing American prisoners, including the use of ‘water torture.’” —Annenberg Fact Check Editor Eugene Kiely, from the FactCheck.org article “Cheney’s Tortured Facts”   Overview Why pick solely on PolitiFact and…
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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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Voter I.D.: PolitiFact Missouri vs. Will Kraus

Will Kraus “Says Missouri needs a voter I.D. law because ‘there’s over 16 people in the state of Missouri who have been convicted of some type of voter fraud.’” —PolitiFact Missouri   Overview We don’t see the evidence supporting PolitiFact Missouri’s interpretation of Kraus’ remarks. We judge PolitiFact Missouri ruled “Half True” on a distorted version of Kraus’ claim. The…
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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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Did Fiorina say Obama was preparing for 250,000 Syrian refugees?

Did Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina say Obama was planning to accept 250,000 Syrian refugees? On Nov. 26, 2015 international news agency Agence France-Presse published “Facts take a back seat in White House race,” an article providing supposed examples of campaign trail falsehoods. The story leads with four examples: Republican Donald Trump’s claim that Arab Americans cheered during the September…
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The trouble with the AP’s climate change fact check

When The Associated Press ran a headline proclaiming a climate science fact check of presidential candidates, we smelled trouble. Journalists tend to struggle with science. One might expect fact check journalists to do a better job handling science. And maybe they do, but it still often looks like fish out of water. Case in point: At the request of The…
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