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Introducing: Scorecards for the TV networks

By Aaron Sharockman
Published on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 at 10:09 a.m.

We’re making it easier to see how a particular cable channel or network is performing on PunditFact’s Truth-O-Meter.

Each of the news networks that we routinely follow -- ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC/MSNBC and CNN -- now has a scorecard that breaks down that network’s performance on the Truth-O-Meter. The scorecard tallies each statement we fact-check on that network and groups the rulings by percentage.

What does that mean?

Right now, you can look at the NBC/MSNBC file and see how that network’s pundits and on-air talent stand. For instance, 46 percent of the claims made by NBC and MSNBC pundits and on-air personalities have been rated Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire.

At FOX and Fox News Channel, that same number is 60 percent. At CNN, it’s 18 percent.

The comparisons are interesting, but be cautious about using them to draw broad conclusions. We use our news judgment to pick the facts we’re going to check, so we certainly don’t fact-check everything. And we don’t fact-check the five network groups evenly. CBS, for instance, doesn’t have a cable network equivalent, so we haven’t fact-checked pundits and CBS personalities as much.

The ABC scorecard, meanwhile, includes fact-checks that were part of a 2010 partnership between PolitiFact and ABC’s Sunday news show This Week.

Our scorecards only include statements made on that network by a pundit or a host or paid staffer. That means they do not include statements made by elected leaders, candidates or party officials. We feel it’s difficult to hold a network accountable for the comments of a politician.

Also, if a Fox News host appears on NBC and makes a claim that we fact-check, that rating would appear on the NBC page. In this case, it’s about the network that aired the content, not the person who said it.

If you have particular questions or ideas about the new scorecards, feel free to email me at feedback@punditfact.com.

Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.

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