Oct
19
2012

FAIR TV: Factchecking Moderators, Chris Matthews Wants a King, When Advertisers Write the "News"

This week on FAIR TV: Who factchecks the debate moderators? What Does Chris Matthews Think is in the Constitution? And why not just let advertisers write the "news"? Please take a look– and spread the word.

Aug
31
2012

Factchecking the Minnows and Letting the Whales Swim Away

Mitt Romney at the RNC

In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP's Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney's big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet.  My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren't the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it's possible to do anything about them? (The answers are "yes" and "yes," as it turns out.) The Washington Post […]

Aug
16
2012

ABC's Unrealistic Paul Ryan Reality Check

Campaign rhetoric, we're led to believe, can be hard to sort out. If Paul Ryan says his budget plan protects Medicare and the Democrats say it "ends" it, what should we believe? Those are the kinds of questions journalism is supposed to answer. Which is why ABC World News' August 14 "Reality Check" on Medicare was such a failure. Actually, the fact that it wasn't very good wasn't a total shocker. That was to be expected as soon as you heard Diane Sawyer said this: So we asked ABC's Jon Karl for a reality check on the plan and what […]

Jul
17
2012

David Gergen Factchecks His Friends—and Financial Partners—at Bain

There are some pretty intense factchecking fights over what is true and not true about the Obama campaign's claims about Romney's record at Bain Capital. Media outlets are struggling with how to render a verdict; most seem to think Obama has exaggerated. But one outlet has found a voice willing to deliver a judgment. CNN has published a column (7/16/12) by veteran pundit David Gergen headlined: Facts don't support Obama's charges against Romney This is, for Gergen, pretty strong stuff; he's a talking head whose head mostly talks about campaign strategy and the like. He's not one usually to call […]

Jul
16
2012

Paul Krugman Reads the New York Times

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman writes today (New York Times, 7/16/12) on media's failure to factcheck campaign claims: Perhaps in a better world we could count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims. In this world, however, most voters get their news from short snippets on TV, which almost never contain substantive policy analysis. The print media do offer analysis pieces–but these pieces, out of a desire to seem "balanced," all too often simply repeat the he-said-she-said of political speeches. Trust me: you will see very few news analyses saying that Mr. Romney proposes huge tax cuts for the rich, […]

Jun
22
2012

When 'Factchecking' Means Telling Your Colleagues They're Liars

Factchecking ought to be an everyday part of each journalist's job, but instead it's relegated to a specialty feature. Maybe lack of regular practice explains why those side efforts are so disappointing. Take Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post's piece (6/21/12) on Barack Obama's latest ad critical of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Kessler gives the ad "four Pinocchios"–reserved for the most deceptive statements: "On just about every level, this ad is misleading, unfair and untrue, from the use of 'corporate raider' to its examples of alleged outsourcing." Kessler was defiant when Talking Points Memo (6/22/12) asked him how he […]

Jan
20
2012

NYT's Apple Debate Factcheck, Without Facts

If Arthur Brisbane wants the Times to consider becoming factchecking 'truth vigilantes," this is hopefully not what he had in mind. At last night's Republican debate (1/19/12), CNN host John King asked the candidates how they would convince a corporation like Apple to employ more workers in the United States: It employs about 500,000 people in China. It is based in the United States, has some employees here, about 40-something thousand, I think 46,000. Most of them in retail stores and at the headquarters. 500,000 of them are in China. As a president of the United States, what do you […]

Jan
19
2012

NYT, SOPA and Internet Factchecking

Remember last week's uproar about the New York Times and factchecking? In today's paper, we see a great example of how this works. Former Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd's new job is as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, which means he's leading the charge in support of SOPA, the bill that big media companies believe will stop online "piracy." Opponents see it as a potentially devastating blow to free speech on the Internet, and they seem to have had great success in turning the tide of the debate. This is not good news for people like Dodd, […]

Jan
10
2012

'Opinions Differ' Should Be the Start of PolitiFact's Job

There are two ways to approach being evenhanded: You can try to actually be evenhanded, which could mean that you find that one side is right and the other is wrong. Or you can strive for the appearance of being evenhanded, which means that you decide in advance that you're going to find that there's truth on both sides. PolitiFact, a political factchecking project based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been criticized for taking the latter approach. An item it posted yesterday (1/9/12) is further evidence of its preference for the appearance of evenhandedness over its reality. The item addressed […]

Oct
04
2010

Factually Challenged Reporter Cheers Factchecking

I tuned into C-SPAN on Friday night and caught part of a panel discussion hosted by Arianna Huffington. One of the panelists was Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes, who is perhaps best known for advancing the bogus theory that Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda were in cahoots. And oddly enough, the discussion turned to misleading political advertising, and the efforts to factcheck such political lying–an effort that Hayes cheered: HUFFINGTON: What else can the media do, Steve? HAYES: I think one of the upsides to the proliferation of information sources is that you can go to places and find out whether […]