A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Viral Spiral 2012

We’ve long warned our readers to make good use of the delete key when emails spreading sketchy claims pop up in their inboxes. But we’ve found that old viral emails, unfortunately, never die — and new ones spread like a highly contagious disease. These overwhelmingly anonymous messages are, by and large, bogus.

Firefighters, Fact-Checking and American Journalism

When I came to Annenberg and launched FactCheck.org in December 2003, I had a single research assistant and practically no competition. Now, nine years later, FactCheck.org has an excellent staff, and so many other journalists are fact-checking politicians that one media critic calls it “the ever-growing factchecking industry.” So I think …

Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts

The mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., has reignited a national debate on gun control. As elected leaders begin the dialogue, some facts are clear — there has been a massive increase in gun sales. Some things are not so clear — such as whether there is causation between more guns and more violent crimes. And some …

Our Annual Year-end Appeal

During the presidential campaign, the Obama campaign emailed fundraising appeals with subject lines such as “This is critical” and “Absolutely urgent” to lament how the Democrats were being outraised and outspent by Republicans.
But here’s something to consider: The Obama and Romney campaigns combined raised a record amount of more than $2 billion. Super PACs spent another $600 million. That paid for a lot of advertising and created a lot of work for us. Our cash budget,

Fiscal Cliff Air Wars

The presidential election ended last month, but the partisan air wars continue with competing fiscal cliff ads from the conservative Crossroads GPS and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Most of what is in the ads falls into the realm of opinion, but we found a couple points to quibble with in each.

The DCCC ad claims “tea party House Republicans are holding the middle class hostage to get more tax cuts for millionaires,” but nearly six out of seven who would face tax increases under President Obama’s plan do not earn $1 million a year.

Chained Explained

Using a more accurate cost-of-living adjustment for federal benefit payments and tax brackets would cut the federal deficit by perhaps $300 billion over the next 10 years. But it faces opposition from both right and left. Economists generally agree …

No Government 401(k) Takeover

Q: Is the Obama administration attempting to eliminate private 401(k)s and IRAs and create a “national retirement system”?
A: No. Obama endorses a proposal that would require businesses without retirement plans to establish private IRAs for their employees and deposit a percentage of wages into the accounts. Employees could opt out.

Dueling Fiscal Cliff Deceptions

A fog of misinformation has settled on the fiscal cliff, as both House Speaker John Boehner and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have traded conflicting, misleading and false statements in recent days on the president’s deficit-reduction plan:

Geithner falsely claimed on “Fox News Sunday” that the president’s proposals to slow Medicare growth are “not shifting costs to seniors.” There are four proposals that would increase costs to some seniors by $32.9 billion over 10 years, beginning in 2017,