Saturday, December 20th, 2014

The value of fact-checking in the 2012 campaign

We've published more than 7,000 Truth-O-Meter rulings.
We've published more than 7,000 Truth-O-Meter rulings.

I am a fan of David Carr, the media writer at the New York Times, but he really misfired with his blog post "A Last Fact-Check: It Didn't Work."
   
Carr's point is that the tremendous amount of fact-checking of the 2012 campaign was worthless because it didn't stop the candidates from lying. "Both candidates’ campaigns laid out a number of whoppers, got clobbered for doing so, and then kept right on saying them," he writes.
   
We've heard this argument before.
   
In 2008, critics questioned the value of fact-checking because Sarah Palin persisted with claims about stopping the infamous "bridge to nowhere" even though fact-checkers said her claim was largely incorrect. And we heard it again last summer after Mitt Romney's pollster was quoted as saying, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." That prompted harrumphing from media critics and liberal writers who were shocked -- shocked! -- that the Romney campaign would not immediately cease and desist with its falsehoods when the fact-checkers declared something was wrong.
   
But this is a silly measurement of our work. Our mission is to inform readers, not change the behavior of politicians. And it's ridiculous to think that our new form of accountability journalism would suddenly rewrite the traditions of American politics and end decades of lying by candidates and elected officials.

Read the rest of my take at http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/nov/08/value-fact-checking-2012-campaign/