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True, Half-True, or Pants on Fire!?

Pants_On_Fire.jpg We previously blogged about Annenberg Political Fact Check, or FactCheck.org, which tracks the veracity of statements put out by public officials.

A recent Utne article highlighted some similar projects, including PolitiFact.com. PolitiFact.com is a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly. Statements made by the 2008 presidential candidates, including ones attacking their political opponents, are subjected to PolitiFact's "Truth-O-Meter."

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, for example, was called out for being "pants-on-fire" wrong for his claim during a Oct. 21, 2007, debate in Orlando that "The signers of the Declaration of Independence were 'brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen.'" PolitiFact.com notes that only one out of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence was a clergyman. (Huckabee could have double-checked the accuracy of his statement against the World Almanac 2008, which lists on page 496 the occupation of each signer of the declaration. Half of those who signed were judges or lawyers.)

What's also neat about PolitiFact.com is that each entry lists who researched the statement and the sources they used, along with links. That kind of transparency makes it possible for readers to fact-check the fact-checkers and ensure, ideally, that the project maintains its commitment to the truth instead of to political interests.

"The Fifth Estate" (Utne Reader)

Previously: "Checking Up On Your Favorite Candidates*"

Image: Democratic candidate John Edwards earned a pants-on-fire rating for his claim in a TV ad that as president, he would take away health care from Congressional and administration members if universal health care coverage was not passed. Problem is that presidents don't have that authority—they only have the power to introduce legislation to take away health care.


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