In 2009, the truth took a beating
By Bill Adair
Published on Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 at 5:21 p.m.
The Truth-O-Meter went red in 2009.
We mention red because that’s the meter’s color for our lowest ratings, False and Pants on Fire. Of the 432 fact-checking items we published this year, 26 percent were rated False and 10 percent earned a Pants on Fire .
That means more than one-third of all the claims we checked were incorrect.
Another way to look at it: The truth took a beating in 2009.
That was particularly true in the debate over health care , where nearly 40 percent of claims were rated False or Pants on Fire.
And if you’re relying on pundits or talk show hosts for your facts, you might want to reconsider. More than 45 percent of their claims were False or Pants on Fire.
The social scientists on our staff (okay, there’s just one) discourage us from comparing this year’s ratings with last year, when we were focused on the presidential campaign. Our ratings are journalism, not social science, after all, and the items are chosen based on our news judgment and staffing, not randomly selected. But with that big caveat, it’s still interesting to note that we had a lower share of False and Pants on Fire ratings during the 2008 campaign – 24 percent – than the 36 percent in 2009, when we rated the congressional debate and comments from the White House.
In case you’re scoring at home, here are the stats for 2009:
Mostly True 14.5
Half True 17.5
Barely True 13.8
Pants on Fire 10.0
2009 Truth-O-Meter rulings
Researchers: Bill Adair
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