Fact-checking gets fact-checked

Fact-checking became a hot topic after Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week. Is fact-checking a trojan horse for left-wing partisans? Is it something members of the news media should do reflexively and in-person? And who will fact-check the fact-checkers of the fact-checkers?

Emily Bell: “The existence of a ‘fact-checking movement’ which runs parallel to, but is not part of, the press shows how disjointed the process of informing the public has become.” (Instant grammar-check! The nonrestrictive which in that sentence should be replaced with the restrictive that.)

Glenn Kessler: Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC wasn’t a watershed moment in post-truth politics, it was “par for the course” for a political convention.

Michael Cooper’s counterpoint: “But recent events — from the misleading statements in convention speeches to television advertisements repeating widely debunked claims — have raised new questions about whether the political culture still holds any penalty for falsehood.”

• Ben Smith’s counter-counterpoint: “…at its heart, this is a rare campaign being conducted in the daylight on the highest stakes in American government, the giant domestic programs most Americans wind up using and the taxes that pay for them.”

Ezra Klein: “Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation. … you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.”

Irin Carmon: “Cynical postmodernism,” beat-maintenance are why reporters don’t fact-check.

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  • Anonymous

    “Fact-checking became a hot topic after Paul Ryan’s speech at the
    Republican National Convention last week.”
    Oh, silly me. And here I thought it was the lies and misrepresentations that were the substantive hot topic.

    “Is fact-checking a trojan
    horse for left-wing partisans? Is it something members of the news media
    should do reflexively and in-person? And who will fact-check the
    fact-checkers of the fact-checkers?”
    Again, a very entertaining, cute
    and clever take on a serious issue. And here I thought fact-checking is
    what one learned in Journalism 101 to do for every claim in every
    story. Of course, once one has beltway capture and appreciates the
    “realities of journalism”, one need no longer be bothered with such
    trivialities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cyasiejko Christopher Yasiejko

    The thing is, facts are not beholden to fact-check sites. If something is a fact, a reporter ought to say so; if it is a lie, the reporter ought to say so. There is absolutely no need to quote a fact-check site, though such a courtesy would be a fair gesture.

  • Anonymous

    when? not all that long ago. indeed, i routinely read/see news reports — and particularly in the crurrent presidential campaign — that quote candidates but fail to point out that what they have said has long since been proven to be wrong, i.e. another lie. the Big Lie strategy in practice. how many times do candidates repeat a lie? often. and how frequently is it corrected? rarely.

    maybe reporters are just reluctant to repeatedly quote fact-check sites on the same lies. however correcting a false statement once when it is repeated 10 times to crowds of 20,000 people and many more times to millions in tv ads ain’t all that effective in getting at the truth, or at least as close as you can get. the numbers are on the candidates’ side. and THAT’S what they count on.

  • Anonymous

    The outsourcing of fact-checking results in erroneous reporting of its own. One fact checker will declare something true or false and everyone else lazily leans on it. Obama’s changes to welfare reform are an example. One “fact checker” said it would not remove the work requirement and suddenly that is gospel in the New York Times. If you look into it, it is a different story. The fact checker took Sebelius at face value, when her mop-up statement about waivers is completely full of loopholes. Find things out for yourselves!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cyasiejko Christopher Yasiejko

    “Is it something members of the news media should do reflexively and in-person?”

    What, check the facts rather than reflexively report what a politician says? Since when did this elemental facet of reporting come into question?

  • Anonymous