Wemple: In 2 of 3 spats, PolitiFact and Maddow are talking past each other

The Washington Post

Rachel Maddow was once a champion of PolitiFact: She trumpeted its rulings on "death panels" and kidnappings in Phoenix. But those days are but bittersweet memories; Erik Wemple reports on how the relationship curdled. (Disclosures for all! PolitiFact is a project of Poynter's Tampa Bay Times; I used to work with Wemple.)



His piece dissects the conflict and also lifts the veil on PolitiFact's operation: "Every single PolitiFact item gets reviewed by a small panel consisting of the original editor plus two others who come in with fresh eyes. They all look at the fact-gathering, the conclusions and the Truth-O-Meter rating. No lie: This review group is known to PolitiFacters as the 'Star Chamber.' "

This organizational prowess is no comfort to Maddow: "So when PolitiFact fails, again and again -- when they prove themselves to be truly, recklessly awful -- they are not just failing alone on the Internet, they’re undermining something that we need as a country," she writes to Wemple. That duty they're spurning? Fact-checking.

Wemple also digs in on how PolitiFact arrived at the rulings that so infuriated the MSNBC host. "PolitiFact erred most egregiously" in l'affair Marco Rubio, he writes, but "on at least two of the other public spats, Maddow and PolitiFact are clearly talking past each other." || Related: If Dave Mustaine ran for president, would PolitiFact fact-check Megadeth? | Fact from fiction: PolitiFact draws ire for checking ‘Glee’ | Additional Poynter posts on PolitiFact and fact-checking journalism

  • 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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