Introducing PolitiFact Illinois

PolitiFact Illinois will research and rate newsworthy claims and assertions made by politicians, public figures and pundits in Illinois.
PolitiFact Illinois will research and rate newsworthy claims and assertions made by politicians, public figures and pundits in Illinois.

Illinois never has been more polarized. Our nation never more divided. This campaign season is unlike any other before it. Against this backdrop, in the instant age of the internet, claims and counterclaims, charges and countercharges fly faster than the human brain can process them.

And the intensity and volume and velocity of those claims only will increase as we catapult through the calendar toward the Nov. 8 election and the aftermath that still leaves our state and local officials needing to pass a budget and replenish depleted public pension plans.

That is why we’re happy to let you know we’re here to help you sort out the truth.

Today, we are thrilled to announce Reboot Illinois is joining the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact team. Reboot Illinois now is the exclusive home of PolitiFact Illinois, partnering with the world-renowned news operation to prosecute political speech, find the facts and determine in transparent fashion whether the claims and counterclaims of Illinois’ officeholders, public figures and pundits are true.

"Politicians be warned, the Truth-O-Meter has made it to Illinois," said PolitiFact executive director Aaron Sharockman. "We’re thrilled to have a partner like Reboot Illinois, who already has a track record of holding the state’s political establishment accountable. The addition of PolitiFact will only further help Illinois voters this fall and in the years to come."

We launched Reboot Illinois in 2012 with the mission of empowering Illinois citizens with news, views, fast facts and tools to help them take ownership of their governments. We’ve done that by simplifying complex topics, presenting candidate scorecards and creating our Sound Off tool that helps you easily send a message to state officials.

Our partnership with PolitiFact is a tremendous affirmation of the work we’ve done and an incredible opportunity to help Illinoisans cut through the rhetoric, spin and double talk that clutters the internet, our airwaves and our conversations.

We begin cutting through the clutter today. Gov. Bruce Rauner repeatedly has been saying Illinois has lower family incomes today than it did 17 years ago because of the actions of Democrats led by House Speaker Mike Madigan. What does our research show? And where did it land on the PolitiFact Truth-o-Meter? You can find the answers in our first PolitiFact Illinois fact-check.

As PolitiFact Illinois, we will research and rate newsworthy claims and assertions made by politicians, public figures and pundits in Illinois directly or in their campaign materials in the same prize-winning, transparent and rigorous fashion as the national PolitiFact team. Our work will join theirs in a national database. It also will form the PolitiFact Illinois database and will live on the Reboot Illinois website as well.

Launched in 2007 by the Tampa Bay Times to fact-check the 2008 presidential campaign, PolitiFact was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize in national reporting the following year. Its reporting and Truth-O-Meter are regularly cited by politicians, pundits and celebrities and we’re pleased to broaden its reach to Illinois, as the 18th state in the PolitiFact family.

PolitiFact reporting aims to be fair and transparent. We’ll rigorously dig into assertions by Republicans, Democrats and non-partisan officeholders and pundits. It’s common for fact-checks to include links to many sources used to analyze an assertion. This transparency gives readers power. You can judge for yourself the quality of our work.

PolitiFact stories focus on verifiable statements, not opinions. PolitiFact’s team understands, too, that context is key. We always will try to get the original statement in its full form and, when possible, will seek out original sources. While the reporting is thorough, transparent and meticulous, PolitiFact is recognized for the way it simplifies and rates its conclusions about the truth of a statement with the "Truth-O-Meter," a measurement that acknowledges most statements and political speech contain shades of gray.

Truth-O-Meter rulings are determined by a panel of at least three editors, who review the reporting and determine what ruling will be applied.

There are six possible PolitiFact rulings. The definitions of each follow:

True — The statement is accurate and nothing significant is missing.

Mostly True — The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.

Half True — The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

Mostly False — The statement contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

False — The statement is not accurate.

Pants on Fire — The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim.

Our fact-checking of claims and political rhetoric will help Illinoisans see the truth and appreciate the full context of statements they see and hear. We expect it will help citizen-voters make better-educated choices about the politicians who work for them.

Our politicians and public officials might not always appreciate our PolitiFact work, but there’s never been a more important time to stop, dig into the research and hold them accountable. We all should be able to see the unvarnished truth in that.