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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Dec. 25-31

This week, readers sent letters of appreciation to our former director, Brooks Jackson.

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


Brooks Jackson’s Farewell (For Now)

This discussion of what FactCheck.org “is” and “is not” [“Firefighters, Fact-Checking and American Journalism,” Dec. 21] was extremely well written and helps the reader understand the role of FactCheck.org and how it operates. This item, or sections of it, should be cited as a reference whenever someone asks questions about its role. Remind us now and then to re-read it.

Mr. Jackson should be commended for his service to the electorate. FactCheck.org is an extremely valuable resource for anyone who wishes to have a factual base for his or her opinion on some political issue. Thanks for a job well done.

Philip Cox
Oregon, Wisc.


I just read “Firefighters, Fact-Checking and American Journalism.” I extend my thanks and appreciation to Brooks Jackson for what he has created. I hope Eugene Kiely will continue to meet FactCheck.org’s high standards.

My exposure to FactCheck.org began with [former Vice President Dick] Cheney’s “FactCheck.com” gaffe in 2004. It’s been an invaluable resource ever since. I often wish the facts were better suited to my opinions, but a citizen of a democracy (or the U.S. approximation thereof) must accept life as it is, not as one would wish it to be.

I admit I sometimes prefer the simplicity of PolitiFact’s rating system. However, I have always known and acknowledged that Brooks Jackson is correct: Subtlety is lost when one condenses a complex argument to a single value on a 5-point scale. I see FactCheck as the best resource when I have time and energy to study an issue in depth.

Steve Wartik
Arlington, Va.


I’m writing to express my appreciation to you and your staff for bringing FactCheck to us, and setting a standard for other fact-checkers to emulate. I’ve depended on your service almost from the beginning.

It’s true that we can’t depend on the facts we hear on TV nightly news, or read in our daily newspapers. It seems to me everyone has a personal agenda except for the true-fact checkers. You’ve provided a tool I can count on when I need to check the political rumors, or outright lies that bombard my email, especially during the election season (which gets longer and longer).

Thank you for birthing and raising FactCheck out of its infancy. It’s a relief to know that you will be coming back part-time. Everyone is going to feel a little lost without you at the helm. Your presence will lend security to your successor, and the rest of the staff. I guess you could say you will be the training wheels until everyone knows that they can carry on the excellent work done under your tutelage.

Thanks again for keeping your readers informed so we can be smarter voters.

Vicki Bauer
Athens, Ga.


Thanks to Brooks Jackson for good and useful work on behalf of honest government.

Last spring, the campaign was already heating up here in New Hampshire, but it was too early to put up signs for candidates. So, my wife and I designed a yard sign that said simply “FactCheck.org,” and put it in front of our house. We got lots of comments, mostly appreciative.

The weekly updates were very helpful to us in keeping our balance through the campaign. When friends repeated “whoppers,” we asked them, “have you fact-checked that?” It was much better than arguing.

So, Brooks — from another 71-year-old — thanks again for one of the most helpful political tools of our day.

Blair Moffett
Wolfeboro, N.H.


I just want to thank Mr. Jackson and FactCheck for the awesome and much needed work you do and have done. You do a great service for the people and country — we, the people, need you.

Chuck Burgner
Davenport, Iowa


Just a quick note to thank Mr. Jackson for his admirable, important efforts and to wish him well in his future endeavors.

Greg Bearth
Lake Elmo, Minn.


I can only offer, again, my heart felt gratitude to all the people at FactCheck for a great job.

Prior to becoming acquainted with this great service, I seriously doubted if there was any reliable source where “facts” could be measured for their validity, and if anyone really cared about getting facts.  Besides providing confidence in those two areas, FactCheck and Spin Detectors have given me a source to confidently guide my opinions, as well as to refer my friends and family to when they had questions or comments. I definitely feel that I was able to hold more productive conversations because of FactCheck, and I also took the opportunity to give feedback to parties and candidates when it was appropriate regarding some of the information they were providing to me and  other voters. I believe the very fact the politicians and their staffs know that fact-checking is and will continue to be will make them think, and as the practice continues to gain ground, and be more widely and wisely used, it will have an even greater impact.

And a special salute of gratitude to Brooks Jackson for your AMAZING work. I hope you always have the satisfaction of feeling that you have made a significant contribution to building a stronger democracy and a basis for a stronger U.S.A. God bless.

Jim Piacitelli
Price, Utah