the Blog

Short news items and site announcements.

The Zebr-O-Meter?

Not long after I first started criticizing the fact checkers at PolitiFact, I declared that I could come up with a better system of rating fact checks than the “Truth-O-Meter” system PolitiFact uses. I gradually fleshed out the main idea over the course of a year. The system would not jam statements into ill-defined categories and would summarize the key…
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Is the United States “the oldest democracy in the world”?

Sometimes political statements include would-be facts that pique our curiosity but aren’t of any special importance to the overall message.  One such occurred during President Obama’s joint press conference with Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra:   PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me just say, first of all, that democracy is not something that is static; it’s something that we constantly have…
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Is it worth trying to improve on FactCheck.org?

I’m on record calling Annenberg Fact Check, perhaps better known as FactCheck.org, the gold standard for mainstream fact checking.  At the same time I’m trying to make the case that there’s ample room for competition.  There’s potential to supplant today’s gold standard with an improved standard. A Nov. 14 story by former PolitiFact writer Robert Farley serves as an example. …
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Pitching to the swing state, Ohio

Having noticed a theme in fact check coverage centering on presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s claims questioning of President Obama’s saving of the auto companies, I planned a commentary article to present my case. Before I typed the first word, Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute largely beat me to it.  Though Bader puts his focus on inconsistent reporting by…
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Romney wrong about Jeeps to China?

Editor’s note:  A different version of this post was originally published on Oct. 31 but was subsequently lost.   The Romney ad about Chrysler building Jeeps in China is apparently the fact check topic of the week. Here’s the ad:     The ad makes a number of claims. GM lost 15,000 workers.  China gained 15,000 workers through GM.  And…
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When fact checkers make things up

We have an example from yesterday of a fact checker doing something a fact checker should not do. PolitiFact, the popular fact checking site associated with the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, cherry-picked a definition and ruled on a politician’s statement based on that cherry picking. PolitiFact’s mistake occurs as it checks a claim from Republican senate candidate Linda McMahon.  McMahon’s…
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PolitiFact obfuscates on President Obama’s Rose Garden speech

Earlier today I read a fine fact check by Glenn Kessler of President Obama’s claims about Libya from the second presidential debate.  And a few minutes ago I read the PolitiFact version. PolitiFact:   Some have parsed Obama’s remarks and argued he didn’t say the Benghazi attack was specifically an act of terror. However, given the overall context of his…
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The Tennessean “fact check” skimps on context

Our fact check of Paul Ryan’s charge that the Obama administration called Syrian ruler Bashar Assad a “reformer” nearly carried a bonus critique of PolitiFact’s reporting of the context. The problem?  The mainstream press appears to downplay the force of the Syrian crackdown prior to Clinton’s infamous statement on “Meet the Press.”  The Tennessean provides perhaps the best example so…
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About the reference style

References for this site represent a modified MLA style. Wherever possible we will use references available on the Web.  MLA Style requires no listing of a URL under ordinary circumstances, which works fine because we’re providing hyperlinks through the title of the reference.  We omit the indentations beyond the first line of the reference because the WordPress interface makes achieving…
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