A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Aug. 30 – Sept. 5


This week, readers sent us comments about a perceived bias in FactCheck.org articles, and our style for citing sources.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Bias Concerns

Thanks for your important work. I would make one suggestion, and that is to avoid using terms that tend to suggest a bias.

It will lend your important work more credence if you avoid using phrases like: "A misleading liberal ad attacks Sen. Scott Brown as a yes-man for …" [" ‘Bobblehead’ Scott Brown?," Aug. 26] That would have been perceived as less partisan if you had instead removed the word "liberal." Or like: "A conservative Christian group makes some wildly improbable claims about government spending in a satirical ad targeting Democrats." [" ‘Spenditol’ Silliness," July 25] Allow the reader to determine conservative or liberal perspectives. If they're coming to your site, they're pretty astute.

Clearly you're correct on both perspectives, but reading these pieces independently caused me to pause and consider your personal views rather than simply stating the "fact." I'd like to see your site cited, and referred to more frequently, and I think the removal of these "emotional trigger" words would really help.

Just a thought from a faithful follower.

Jill Helser
Chicago, Ill.

 

Bias and Style Concerns

I continue to be concerned about the apparent bias I see in your selection of topics that you analyze, and your methods for doing the analysis.

The most recent topics have both been about the Republican candidates. Surely, you realize the very act of reviewing people sheds a negative light on them. Granted it is because they stretch the truth, exaggerate, or worse. However, to fulfill your mission, I believe you need to pay particular attention to equally highlighting the scoundrels.

As for the methods, I believe your listing of sources is sloppy. That leads one to question not only the data, but the conclusions. For example, in ["Texas-Size Recovery," Aug. 31] you list the date of seven sources as "accessed Aug 30." Does that mean the data was up-to-date, or that it was 1990 data you read on Tuesday? In several other instances, you referenced data that was listed in articles published recently. I should not have to tell you that the real relevance is when the data was gathered, or what period it represents, and not when someone used it in an article.

I enjoy your work, but expect higher quality.

Jim Martin
Parkton, Md.

FactCheck.org responds: The reader's letter (sent Sept. 1) refers to two articles posted Aug. 31, one of which examined both the positive and negative aspects of Texas employment under Gov. Rick Perry. The other pointed out that an attack ad aimed at a Republican was false. We respectully disagree that even this very limited sample of our work can reasonably be seen as evidence of bias on our part.