Misinformation, fact checks, and ad watches

Arrows in chart

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of current American politics is the seeming dearth of truth, honesty, and willingness to listen to and respect opposing points of view.  This crisis of civility is made much worse when political figures mislead us, and we develop a deep cynicism.  PIE is researching misinformation, and we believe that the constant exposure of political lies can undermine their utility.

Recent Fact Checks

It's possible to go down the rabbithole with factchecks by doubting the fact checker's factual accuracy. We will link only to factchecks from legitimate news organizations, not from partisan blogs or partisan media outlets.  That said, it always makes sense to read with a critical eye.

2016 Election:

  • FactCheck has been tracking the 2016 Election closely, including speeches at the party conventions. 
  • FactCheck has info on all 2016 Presidential candidates. Click here to see detailed reporting on each candidate.
  • Politifact has interactive graphics to determine the truth behind candidate claims. 
  • The New York Times has been keeping track of various claims made throughout the race. For a list of specific issues, click here!
  • The Washington Post has created a visual analysis of the 2016 Presidential candidates and their claims.  

2012 Election:

  • The last presidential debate of 2012 had some fact-based concerns.  See FactCheck.
  • The second presidential debate of 2012 was colorful and even included an on-the-spot fact check.  Get more at the Washington Post.
  • The VP debate of 2012 included a fair share of "malarkey" or "stuff".  See Politifact for examples from both sides, though Paul Ryan may have taken the cake by repeating Politifact's "Lie of the Year" for 2010 in his closing statement.  See also factcheck.
  • The factchecks are in on the first presidential debate of 2012. It seems that Romney won in terms of instant polls and punditry, but Obama won if we measure it by factual accuracy.  Try factcheck.org for a comprehensive analysis, and one by the Washington Post.
  • Governor Romney is in hot water for stating that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes, are dependent on government, and will vote for Obama.  Watch a clip of the video here.   If you want to watch the entire thing, it's at Mother Jones. A fact check with charts and graphs is at Time magazine. Another good one is at NPR.
  • Mitt Romney's statements about the Libyan Consulate attack on Sept. 11 and his comments the next morning mislead about the timeline, and wrongly attributed an "apology" or sympathy with the attackers to the Obama administration. CBS News gives the details.
  • Both campaigns are making claims about Medicare.  Factcheck.org has an in depth analysis that should help you to sort it all out.
  • President Clinton's speech was chock full of facts and figures.  Inevitably, some of those are in dispute.  Get the rundown from the Washington Post.
  • The first night of the Democratic National Convention featured some stretching of the truth, as noted by factcheck.org.
  • Paul Ryan's convention speech had a notably high number of factual inaccuracies.  Factcheck.org breaks them down. The Washington Post tells us what was true and what wasn't. This New Republic article adds content about the "protect the weak" line. This NYT article argues that the RNC acceptance speeches show that politicians care less and less about fact checks.
  • The Atlantic Wire did a fact check on aspects of Ann Romney's RNC speech.
  • Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the RNC got much less disapproval from fact checkers than Paul Ryan's did.  There were still some issues, as Factcheck points out.
  • The RNC speakers keep using the "I built that" slogan, jumping off of a statement from President Obama.  The Washington Post evaluates the Obama statement and puts it in honest context. 
  • The lefty internet is ablaze with a quote from Paul Ryan saying that rape is "a form of conception". He did say that, but in context it sounds much less damaging than many suggest.  Watch the video for yourself.
  • An interesting article by James Fallows at the Atlantic on election coverage in the "post-truth" age.

Ad Watches/ Fact Checks:

  • Media Scrutiny Theater by the people at NPR's On the Media -- political ads commented upon and fact checked "Mystery Science Theater 3000" style. Fun.
  • Politifact analyzes the truth of political claims using a "truth-o-meter".  Ads are here, as well as statements made in other contexts.  There's an app too.
  • Factcheck is non-partisan and checks speeches and political claims.
  • Wonkblog does some excellent fact checking and explaining.
  • Some excellent national political ad watches are at Atlantic Wire.
  • For people in the Sacramento region, the Sacramento Bee does local/ state ad watches and fact checks.


Some examples of misinformation