September 27, 2022

The ways media — conventional and social — shape perceptions and filter facts dominated the opening sessions of the second annual United Facts of America online festival of fact-checking.

The three-day event, co-presented by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and its Pulitzer Prize-winning enterprise, PolitiFact, featured more than four hours of programming broadcast live online. National experts in media, politics, technology and counterintelligence discussed facts and their effect on lives in the United States and abroad.

Sept. 27’s slate included one-on-one talks on climate change with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and engaging fact checks with Drew Comments (aka Andrew Bullock). Two sessions addressed cable television viewing. In one session, NPR television critic Eric Deggans discussed how viewers’ viewpoints are shaped by the channels they choose and commented on CNN’s decision in August to cancel “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter’s long-running show examining the news media.

In the other TV-oriented talk, David Broockman of the University of California, Berkeley and Microsoft Research’s David Rothschild discussed how cable news affects misinformation in the United States. Specifically, they discussed research that had viewers paid to switch from their habitual networks — trading Fox News for CNN, for example.

The Sept. 27 panel discussion focused on the truth and former President Donald Trump. Washington Post White House bureau chief Toluse Olorunnipa, Gray Television White House correspondent and senior national editor Jon Decker, and former FBI special agent and legal and national security analyst for CNN Asha Rangappa joined the discussion.

The marquee event Sept. 28 will be a one-on-one midterm elections discussion between PolitiFact Managing Editor Katie Sanders and PBS NewsHour anchor and Managing Editor Judy Woodruff.

Woodruff has spent five decades in journalism, serving as the chief Washington correspondent for PBS’ “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” anchoring PBS’ award-winning documentary series, “Frontline”  and working as an “Inside Politics” anchor and senior correspondent at CNN.

Sept. 28’s highlights also include:

Broken news: Why the media rage machine divides America and how to fight back, 11:35 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. ET

Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt will discuss “rage revenue” — news organizations’ emphasis of coverage that rewards outrageous conduct and worsens political divisions. Stirewalt, who worked on Fox News’ Decision Desk when it called Arizona for Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election, testified in June before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Stirewalt, who has also served the Washington Examiner’s political editor, authored “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back,” published Aug. 23 by Center Street.

“Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America,” 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. ET

What online disinformation element connects conspiracist Alex Jones, tactician Roger Stone, white nationalists Nick Fuentes and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos? Memes. These mashups of images, video and text get copied media and spread on social media, underpinning conspiracy theories and sowing disinformation. Authors Joan Donovan, Emily Dreyfuss and Brian Friedberg will discuss their new book, “Meme Wars,” published Sept. 22 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Beyond Politics: Facts and the Supreme Court of the United States, 6 to 7 p.m. ET

Guests with VIP ticket access may attend an in-person conversation with author and CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic. The event, in Washington, D.C., will address the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe v. Wade and the judiciary’s recent decisions on gun control, climate protection and religious freedom. An audience question-and-answer session with Biskupic, whose 2019 book “The Chief” examined Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ life and career, will follow the discussion. Click here for a VIP ticket to this event.

See the full schedule.

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Matthew Crowley has spent three decades in journalism at newspapers in Nevada and Arizona and New York state. He has supervised edited and written for…
Matthew Crowley

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