Zebra Fact Checks

Fact checks and commentary articles that fact check fact checkers

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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Glenn Kessler defends his use of the Neil Newhouse quotation

Early on Dec. 31, 2014 we published a critique of the way the three major mainstream fact checkers, FactCheck.org, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact, used a 2012 quotation from Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse. Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker, didn’t waste much time in responding. That’s one thing we absolutely love about the guy. On Twitter,…
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Quote check: ‘We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers’

“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” —Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney campaign pollster, Aug. 28, 2012     Overview A media myth surrounds an oft-repeated quotation. The Facts On Aug. 28, 2012 the campaign pollster for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign, Neil Newhouse, participated in a media breakfast event sponsored by Yahoo! and ABC News….
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Waterboarding fact check: Kessler vs. Cheney

“Contrary to Cheney’s assertion, waterboarding was an important charge in a number of the lesser-profile cases.” —Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post Fact Checker, from a Dec. 16, 2014 fact check of former Vice President Dick Cheney   Overview In a fact check of the former vice president, the Washington Post Fact Checker muddies the waterboarding. The Facts Former Vice President Dick…
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PolitiFact vs. Giuliani on murder conviction rates

“[Rudy] Giuliani said, “the conviction rate is almost exactly the same” for whites and blacks who commit murder. … Without statistical data to back up his claim, we rate it False.”   —PunditFact, from a Nov. 26, 2014 fact check of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani   Overview: Facts and consistency escape PunditFact’s grasp as it overlooks an extensive…
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Is health care the ‘single biggest factor’ driving down the budget deficit?

“Obama said the cost of “health care is now the single-biggest factor driving down” the federal budget deficit. … We rate Obama’s claim Mostly True.” —PolitiFact, from an Oct. 8, 2014 fact check of President Obama   Overview The mainstream fact checker PolitiFact exemplifies inconsistency with its fact check of President Obama. The Facts On Oct. 8, 2014, PolitiFact published a…
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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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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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PolitiFact mishandles corporate tax claim

“(Sen. Bernie) Sanders said, ‘In 1952, the corporate income tax accounted for 33 percent of all federal tax revenue. Today, despite record-breaking profits, corporate taxes bring in less than 9 percent.’” … we rate his claim Mostly True.” —PolitiFact, from an Aug. 28, 2014 fact check of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)   Overview PolitiFact concocts a “Mostly True” rating for…
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Medicaid expansion cuts uncompensated care by 30 percent?

“Virginia Democrats believe they have found evidence showing states that expand their Medicaid rolls are better off than those that reject expansion. … “Barker said hospitals in states with Medicaid expansion have already benefited from a 30 percent drop in uncompensated care. … “The statement is True.” —PolitiFact Virginia, in an Aug. 10, 2014 fact check of Virginia state senator…
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