PolitiFact, NPR team up to fact-check campaign ads
By Bill Adair
Published on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
Not too long ago, political campaigns primarily had one weapon in their arsenal: Ads for radio and TV.
Now, they have lots of firepower. In addition to TV and radio ads, they use web videos, Twitter and Facebook messages, e-mails and robocalls, the highly targeted voice messages that always seem to arrive when you're cooking dinner.
To help you sort out the truth in the avalanche of claims from the 2012 campaign, PolitiFact and NPR are partnering for Message Machine, a year-long venture to highlight the candidates' exaggerations and falsehoods.
Reporters from PolitiFact and our nine state sites will be checking claims that candidates and political groups make in TV and radio ads, Facebook messages, tweets and robocalls. We'll focus largely on the presidential campaign, but we'll also examine claims from races for governor and the U.S. House and Senate.
We'll publish our Truth-O-Meter articles on PolitiFact and NPR.org, and we'll keep an archive of them on our NPR/PolitiFact Message Machine page. NPR will air segments about our fact-checking on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other shows.
Our first batch of Message Machine items includes a mix of TV commercials, online videos and Web ads.
In a Web video, Jon Huntsman's campaign relied on a favorite gimmick of campaign consultants -- a wind-up toy -- to illustrate Mitt Romney's flip-flops on abortion and gun control. We rated the abortion claim True and the gun control charge Mostly True.
Another ad that targeted Romney, a 30-second TV spot from the Democratic National Committee, criticized his position on the foreclosure crisis by saying it is to let the crisis "run its course and hit the bottom." We found that was an exaggeration of his position and rated it Half True.
We also checked two claims from an Obama campaign ad that has appeared on many websites lately. It proclaims that because of Obama, "32 million people will have health care" (Mostly True) and that "the mission in Iraq has ended" (Half True). After we inquired about the ad, the Obama campaign changed the wording to say "the combat mission in Iraq has ended."
We'd love your feedback and suggestions for Message Machine fact-checking, particularly if you get robocalls and other targeted messages you'd like us to check. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this form with your suggestions.
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. 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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