Behind the Meter

In our first six weeks, we've gotten lots of feedback about our Truth-O-Meter rulings. For any given ruling, some of you agree and some don't. But we always appreciate hearing what you think.

Our Truth-O-Meter is based on the concept that – especially in politics – truth is not black and white. Depending on how much information a candidate provides, a statement can be half true or barely true without being false.

We spend a fair amount of time deliberating on our rulings.

The discussions begin with the reporter who writes the article and recommends what the Truth-O-Meter should say. That suggestion is then reviewed by at least two, most often three, editors/senior reporters who read the draft story then meet by phone and decide together whether the recommended ruling is supported by the research. The reviewers can change the ruling – and occasionally have.

Here's a look at the six readings on the Meter:

TRUE – The statement is accurate and there's nothing significant missing.

MOSTLY TRUE – The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.

HALF TRUE – The statement is accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.

BARELY TRUE – 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.

How to contact us

Email comments and suggestions for fact-checks to truthometer@politifact.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. (If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.)

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