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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Maybe It’s a Trend

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" feature debuts.

Last month we were happy to note the launch of PolitiFact.com, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times of Florida and Congressional Quarterly of Washington, D.C. Today we welcome The Washington Post‘s new feature, “The Fact Checker,” written by veteran journalist Michael Dobbs with the assistance of chief researcher Alice Crites.

The first four Fact Checker articles find fault with statements by Republican presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Sam Brownback, Democratic presidential contender Mike Gravel, and Osama bin Laden. False or misleading statements get one to four “Pinocchios,” with four representing a “whopper” and one standing for: “Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods.” Wholly true statements will receive a “Geppetto checkmark.” The Post says it “will strive to be dispassionate and non-partisan, drawing attention to inaccurate statements on both left and right.”

We welcome the Post‘s new feature and invite FactCheck.org subscribers and visitors to give it a try. We don’t necessarily endorse everything The Fact Checker says or might say in the future, and we may even see things differently from time to time. But we believe citizens need and deserve as much help as they can get to sort through political spin and misinformation. We hope more news organizations undertake similar efforts and turn these positive steps into a real trend.

-by Brooks Jackson