Latest Posts

May 2018 Q&A with Alexios Mantzarlis

ZEBRA FACT CHECK From the start, the rating systems for PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker have drawn criticism over their inherent subjectivity. At the same time, such systems draw some strong support from members of the fact-checking community (a Duke Reporters Lab article from 2016 estimates a majority of fact-checking organizations use such rating systems).  PolitiFact’s founder, Bill Adair, reportedly participated…
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To & From Michael Wagner (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Email message sent to Michael Wagner on April 26, 2018: Following the announcement that the International Fact-Checking Network would serve as a type of quality control organization for fact checkers, I have carried the concern that the verification process lacks teeth. The issue of error correction served as the issue of greatest concern. The IFCN verification process appeared to place…
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Accountability? The International Fact-Checking Network Re-verifies PolitiFact

Does the International Fact-Checking Network effectively confirm that its list of “verified” signatories follows its code of principles? The task makes for a tall order, and we see plenty of reason to doubt. Over the years PolitiFact has impressed us with its ability to ignore well-reasoned criticisms sent to its staff in response to its invitation to find problems with…
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Why Fact Checkers Need a Watchdog

Who fact checks the fact checkers? Since it started publishing occasional fact checks in 2010, Zebra Fact Check has found quite a few significant errors by mainstream media fact checkers. Unfortunately, our criticisms only rarely result in adequate changes in the original mainstream media fact checks. We held out some hope that the International Fact-Checking Network, hosted by the Poynter…
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Email outreach to the Des Moines Register et al

Upon finding dubiously sourced information in a byline-less Des Moines Register editorial, Zebra Fact Check reached out to try to find the primary source backing the editorial’s claims. Quickly we realized that the editorial had very probably borrowed, without credit, material from the website. We started our outreach solely with the purpose of obtaining information about the primary source….
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Email Outreach to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Brenda Looper

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Brenda Looper

After we noticed an April 11, 2018 newspaper opinion article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette making misleading statements about Zebra Fact Check and another site I help run, we tried to contact the author, Brenda Looper, via the email address listed on the Democrat-Gazette’s website. We sent the first email on April 11, 2018 and the second on April 13, 2018….
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Email Outreach to Allison Colburn, Louis Jacobson, Angie Holan and Aaron Sharockman

(Post-publication update note: We published this with no title. We added the title promptly) Email outreach to PolitiFact’s Allison Colburn, Louis Jacobson, Angie Holan and Aaron Sharockman, Sent March 29, 2018. Dear PolitiFact folks, As most of you are probably aware, PolitiFact rated charges the ACA cut Medicare as “Half True” or worse (mostly worse, were you to tell the truth about…
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Email outreach to PolitiFact’s John Kruzel and Katie Sanders

PolitiFact writer-researcher John Kruzel

After writing an article for PolitiFact Bias containing criticisms of a March 3, 2018 PolitiFact fact check, we sent the following email to the writer and editor asking for either a correction or explanation of what looks like a core error. We copied the email to PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic Holan, PolitiFact Executive Director Aaron Sharockman and International Fact-Checking Network…
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Zinke, gas prices and PolitiFact

Does some form of Trump Derangement Syndrome make it impossible for mainstream media fact checkers to do their work properly? Consider President Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. And consider PolitiFact. At the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference, Zinke claimed that under the Obama administration consumers paid about $100 to fill the tank with gas. Today, Zinke said, it costs…
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