PolitiFact tells group to stop using its ‘Truth-o-Meter’ on billboards

Willamette Week

PolitiFact sent a cease-and-desist letter to Oregon Transformation Project, which has placed about 30 billboards around Portland, Ore., that imitate the fact-checking organization's visual presentation.

The signs say: "FALSE or TRUE? Portland school bond improves education" and show PolitiFact's "Truth-O-Meter" displaying a rating of "Pants on Fire." Below the meter is a logo that says PolitiMyth.com, in the style of PolitiFact's logo.

PolitiFact is operated by the Poynter-owned Tampa Bay Times. Republican strategists have asserted the site is biased against conservatives.

Oregon Transformation Project director Lindsay Berschauer tells Willamette Week's Aaron Mesh, "Clearly, the billboard is a satire of PolitiFact."

"There's been speculation that PolitiFact is biased or slanted in the way they do their rulings. I thought, well, how can we highlight the fact that one of the arguments [for the measure] is that bricks and mortar improve education? There is absolutely no evidence that that's the case."

"It certainly doesn't look like parody to us," PolitiFact Editor Bill Adair writes in an email to Poynter. "It uses our trademarked Pants on Fire image to give the incorrect impression we have rated the statement on the billboard."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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