Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Pundits fare poorly on the Truth-O-Meter

The Truth-O-Meter tally shows pundits have received a larger share of False and Pants on Fire ratings.
The Truth-O-Meter tally shows pundits have received a larger share of False and Pants on Fire ratings.

Our new PolitiFact app allows you to see Truth-O-Meter ratings in ways that aren't possible with our website. In some cases, the picture isn't pretty.

The app allows you to compare our tally of all Truth-O-Meter rulings from PolitiFact National with the totals for individual subjects and groups. So for the first time, we can see how pundits' and talk show hosts' ratings compare with the overall count.

The results, shown in the table below, reveal that pundits and talk show hosts get more False and Pants on Fire ratings -- and fewer Trues -- than the overall totals. (Keep that in mind the next time you're watching cable news!)

In our pundits category, which includes columnists, commentators and talk show hosts, False ratings accounted for 25 percent of the ratings (compared with 21 percent overall) and Pants on Fires accounted for 10 percent (compared with 8 percent overall). Trues were just 15 percent (vs. 20 percent overall).

The PolitiFact app updates the tallies each time we post a new rating, so the percentages can change slightly each day.*

Here are some other interesting highlights:

More falsehoods in statements about health care. We give more False ratings (and fewer Trues) for health care claims.

More truth on the economy. Statements about the economy are slightly more likely to earn ratings of Half True or better. And they receive fewer False and Pants on Fires.

A lot of Half Truths on ABC's This Week. We give a large number of Half Trues for statements on the Sunday show (26 percent vs. 20 percent overall). Guests on This Week are less likely to earn a False or Pants on Fire.

Lots of falsehoods about the environment. On statements about the environment, falsehoods accounted for 33 percent (vs. 21 overall). Trues accounted for only 13 percent (vs. 20 percent overall).

A lot of Half Truths in campaign ads. In our Message Machine partnership with NPR, in which we checked campaign ads in 2010, Half Trues accounted for 28 percent, compared with 20 percent overall.

Here's our tally on the percentage for each category:

Rating Overall Pundits Health care 'This Week' Msg Machine
True 20 15 17 18 12
Mostly True 17 19 12 26 20
Half True 20 18 19 26 28
Mostly False 14 14 17 11 20
False 21 25 26 17 14
Pants on Fire 8 10 9 1 7

To see all the categories, get our PolitiFact app.


* A caveat about the numbers: We choose claims to check based on our news judgment and our mission to satisfy readers' curiosity. Still, with a database that now has more than 2,000 National Truth-O-Meter rulings, we believe the patterns are revealing.