the Blog

Short news items and site announcements.

Time off

There’s a heretofore unexplained gap in the output at Zebra Fact Check running from July through October of 2015. I was hired by a non-profit, non-partisan organization to work on a new fact-checking project. Ballotpedia’s Verbatim project launched in October 2015 and we parted amicably shortly after that. I plan to write a review of Verbatim in 2016 as it…
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Brendan Nyhan blunders closer to the truth

Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College

Maybe political scientist Brendan Nyhan is closing in on the truth. Nyhan, of Dartmouth College, was part of a New Hampshire Public Radio interview on Dec. 7, 2015. On the bad side, Nyhan still clings to his dubious fact-checking “backfire effect”: “My research suggests that it’s very hard to change peoples’ minds about these very controversial issues and political figures….
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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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Journalism’s brave new world?

Over the years, we’ve noticed that fact checkers tend not to target other mainstream media for fact checks even though those media are at times directly responsible for the misinformation. Apparently media outlets don’t want to show each other up and start the equivalent of an informational gas war (no pun intended). Because Zebra Fact Check breaks with that tradition,…
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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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Review: “Truthiness Check”

A different approach to fact checking partially unveiled itself on the Web in October 2014. Dubbed “Truthiness Check,” the site takes a Wikipedian approach to fact-checking. We’ve moved slowly to review Truthiness Check partly since we’ve puzzled over how to figure out what the site is even saying about various political claims. The creators have acknowledged the problem and promise…
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