A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

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,

One Bridge, Two Bridge

Once upon a time, there were two Bridges to Nowhere. There was the Bridge to Nowhere, and the Bridge to Nowhere’s brother, the Bridge to Nowhere. Or, if you prefer, there was the Gravina Access Project, which would connect the town of Ketchikan to the island of Gravina for purposes of development and airport access, and the Knik Arm bridge, which would improve access between Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The bridge would connect the port in Anchorage to Port MacKenzie in Mat-Su.

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,

Have You Looked At Obama’s “Not Exactlys?”

Not exactly.
Actually, we’ve looked at it rather a lot. We just haven’t written about it. Until now.
You surely know the e-mail we’re talking about. It’s one of the more popular chain e-mails that our readers keep sending our way. You know, the one that starts out with

Selma Got Me Born — NOT EXACTLY…

That’s actually the nice version. Some trade “LIAR” for “NOT EXACTLY.” Pretty much all the versions go on to list a whole bunch of other supposedly false Obama claims.

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,

Distorting Quotes and Voting Records

We neglected to inform Wire readers yesterday that we published two new articles on FactCheck.org. (So much content to keep track of!) We looked at a new McCain-Palin ad that distorts quotes from the Obama campaign to make it sound as though Obama and Biden have made sexist remarks and belittled Palin. The actual quotes didn’t do that. Read the full article for the details.
We also published a piece on an Obama ad that makes misleading claims about John McCain’s education proposals and distorts his voting record in the Senate.

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.

Palin’s VP Experience

As long as we’re talking about Sarah Palin’s first v.p. interview, it’s worth noting that she may have stretched the facts a bit when Gibson asked whether she had ever met a foreign head of state.

Gibson: I’m talking about somebody who’s a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?
Palin: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents,