A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Freddie, Fannie and Barack

Update, Sept. 19: Portions of this post were based on incomplete data. We have struck through the incorrect sections. Please see here for our corrected account. We apologize for the inconvenience.
In a Sept. 16 stump speech in Vienna, Ohio, Republican presidential nominee John McCain went after Barack Obama, his Democratic counterpart, charging that Obama can’t possibly hope to change Washington. After all, McCain said, Obama is a big part of the problem.

Joe Biden Lives!

No, we haven’t forgotten that the Democrats have a VP candidate, too. While he hasn’t been making much news lately, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden has been busy out on the stump. We’ve caught him stretching the truth a bit.
You can read all about Biden’s adventures in misquoting in our new article, “Stretching with Biden.”
Why are you still here? Go read it already.

We’re on TV Again

Thursday night to-do list:

Eat dinner.
Put the dishes in the dishwasher.
Get the kids to bed.
Tune in to CNN to watch FactCheck.org’s Viveca Novak bring Larry King (and you!) up to speed on all the latest ads from the McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden campaigns.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

We been here for years.
Since 2003, to be precise. But in 2008, we have a lot more company than we used to. And Editor & Publisher, a journal that covers the newspaper industry (a meta-newspaper?) has taken notice.
In a special report published yesterday, E&P discusses a trend that we’re happy to see (and that we rather modestly like to think that we may have had at least a small role in creating): “How Fact-Checking Took Center Stage in 2008 Campaign.”

Energetically Wrong. Still.

Last Friday, we wrote an article debunking Sarah Palin’s claim that Alaska “produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.” That’s false. The state’s share of U.S. energy production is actually 3.5 percent.
Palin has now changed her tune:

Palin (Sept. 15, Golden, Colorado): My job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas.

That’s still bogus. As our colleague the Washington Post’s Fact Checker points out,

Did McCain Invent the BlackBerry?

John McCain is having his very own Al Gore moment. McCain’s top economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, waved his BlackBerry to a room full of reporters, explaining that "you’re looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create.”
Gore was widely mocked for his claim that “I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” although anyone who reads the entire comment in context can easily discern that Gore was actually saying that he authored legislation which cleared the way for what we now know as the Internet.

Corsi’s Dull Hatchet

Summary
Despite its place near the top of The New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list, where it has been riding high for the past six weeks, Jerome Corsi’s "The Obama Nation" is not a reliable source of facts about Obama. Corsi cites opinion columns and unsourced, anonymous blogs as if they were evidence of factual claims. Where he does cite legitimate news sources, he frequently distorts the facts. In some cases, Corsi simply ignores readily accessible information when it conflicts with his arguments.

Fact-Checking Is Useless

Well, okay, they’re not actually saying that it’s useless. Just potentially counter-productive.
An article last September pointed to cognitive science research showing that debunking myths can have the effect of reinforcing the very myths you’re trying to refute. That’s because the human brain is hardwired with a lot of shortcuts. One of those shortcuts: Over time, we tend to forget the “not” part of a claim while retaining the rest. So “Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction” becomes “Iraq had WMDs.”
Now,

Distorting Our Findings, Part II

On Sept. 10, we objected when the McCain-Palin campaign released an ad implying that we’d criticized Obama for “completely false” and “misleading” claims about Sarah Palin. We did use those words, but we used them to criticize anonymous Internet rumormongers, not Obama.
Now that same claim from the McCain-Palin camp is being recycled into fundraising letters. Here’s the passage from an e-mail from McCain-Palin Victory 2008, a joint project of the Republican National Committee and the Michigan,

The Bush Doctrine?

In her first sit-down interview since securing the Republican v.p. slot, Sarah Palin talked about her position on the Bush Doctrine with ABC’s Charlie Gibson:

Here’s the relevant section of the exchange:

Gibson: The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense; that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?
Palin: Charlie,