A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Our Convention Coverage

FactCheck.org will be covering both the Republican and Democratic conventions, beginning today in Cleveland.

Not Just the Facts

Here at FactCheck.org, we’re always excited to see news organizations devoting time to fact-checking. So we were pleased to see that the Associated Press had decided to fact-check Sarah Palin’s new memoir, "Going Rogue." Putting 11 reporters on the task strikes us as overkill, but that might just be because it’s four more than our entire staff. Still, we’re glad to see others taking up the fact-checking standard.
Not everyone was a fan, though. The Columbia Journalism Review‘s Greg Marx is unimpressed with the AP’s efforts.

FactCheck.org Cited in Ad

From time to time, we find that our work is cited by politicians or political groups. Last week, the League of Conservation Voters ran an ad in Virginia referencing our articles on the cap-and-trade energy bill:

The LCV ad says that Republicans are attacking Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia for "supporting a new clean energy jobs plan," but that we said the "Republican ad was wrong" and figures used by Republican Whip Eric Cantor were a "misrepresentation."

When $3 Million is Too Much

The Supreme Court’s June 8 decision in Caperton v. Massey established that there is such a thing as too much money, at least when it comes to campaign support for a judge who is hearing a case involving the supporter. And $3 million is definitely over the line, according to the majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy in the landmark 5-4 decision.
Excessive campaign contributions to or in support of a judicial candidate can subvert the due process clause of the Constitution,

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.”

Under FactCheck’s Hood: A Note on Methodology for our Palin – 20% Energy Piece

Last Friday, we pointed out that a Palin-McCain talking point stating that Alaska “produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy” was false. The actual figure was 3.5 percent.
Within the story, we allowed (several times) that Palin and McCain may have misspoken and meant to say “oil” instead of “energy,” or “production” instead of “supply.” We ran the calculations and found that they were still off. Keeping with our standards of transparency and accountability,

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,

About That Kilkenny E-Mail

So far, we’ve received roughly 43,937,809 (note: number is exaggerated for effect) e-mails asking us whether the chain e-mail from Wasilla’s most famous non-Palin, Anne Kilkenny, is accurate. As we wrote earlier this week, yes, Kilkenny is a real person and she did in fact write the e-mail. We looked at her claims about the fired librarian in our Sliming Palin article, where we concluded that the evidence that Palin fired Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books is,

We’re On TV, Too

No, it’s not a new feature. But if you’re not watching Sarah Palin on ABC tonight, you should check out CBS News. That’s where you’ll find FactCheck.org deputy director Viveca Novak who’ll be bringing you our latest on recent ads from the McCain and Obama campaigns.
Oh, and if you are watching Palin, well, that’s why they invented TiVo.