Our Truth-O-Meter will stay plugged in
By Greg Borowski
Published on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.
The election is over, but politics goes on.
So does PolitiFact Wisconsin.
That was our commitment when we launched our fact-checking operation over the Labor Day weekend, and it remains so. If anything, it's even more important to hold elected officials accountable for what they say on a day-to-day basis — that's when their record is being formed for the next election.
Our initial focus was the fall election with all of its charges, counter charges and counter-counter charges, with its blitz of TV ads and radio ads and mailers and robocalls.
The Journal Sentinel's PolitiFact team reviewed 64 statements, from state legislative races to the contests for governor and the U.S. Senate. We checked statements by candidates, outside groups, political parties, even the president of the United States.
Reader feedback was heavy: We love you. We hate you. We love you again.
One day last week, I responded to back-to-back e-mails. One argued all we did was side with Republicans and unfairly trash Democrats. The other said all we did was bash Republicans and cozy up to Democrats.
Both got a variation of the same response: We take on both sides and apply the same standards to each.
Both also got a batch of links to items that they may have, ahem, missed.
Anyone who follows our items or looks over our site can see we don't play favorites.
Quite often, though, we got e-mails like this one, from Sheree O. Rogers of Appleton:
"I cannot thank you enough for the PolitiFact feature, which is calling a spade a spade on both sides of the aisle. Having long been fed up with the tone and boldface lies passed off as fact in political campaigns, MJS is letting voters in on the truth. -.....- Keep it up!”
Or this one, from Michael Nunley of Milwaukee:
"I have learned more about candidates" positions on issues and often about the issues themselves from PolitiFact Wisconsin than from any other source. What with the heavy emphasis on the horse race in most media, even less-agenda-driven news shows having decided ‘balance' means dueling heads, debates that tended to degenerate into sound bites and political ads that virtually always simplified and distorted reality, PolitiFact Wisconsin was sometimes the ONLY place I could find information on the context, history and candidate statements or voting records on a particular issue.”
So now the question is, what do we do now?
First, we continue.
We"ll be looking at statements by elected officials from the local level to the state level to Washington, D.C. We'll tackle statements by parties, outside groups, pundits and, yes, talk show hosts. In short, anyone who speaks up and is part of the civic discourse.
Second, in addition to the Truth-O-Meter, we'll be rolling out two new features — the Flip-O-Meter, which measures if officials have changed their positions, and a Promise Meter, which will list promises made by the winning candidates in Tuesday's election and monitor whether they fulfill them.
That's where you come in.
Our PolitiFact team can't be everywhere. So if you hear something and think, "I wonder if that's true,” please send it our way and we'll take a look. It can be a statement at a public meeting, during a news conference, in an interview, news release or constituent newsletter.
You can also help us build our list of promises to monitor.
If you have suggestions of specific promises made by candidates, send them to us, along with information on when or where it was said. (Including links to news articles or other statements is helpful).
Our e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, with the candidates already lining up to replace Walker, we're already gearing up for the spring election.
Elections come and go.
But there always seems to be one right around the corner.
Researchers: Greg Borowski
We want to hear your suggestions and comments. Email the Wisconsin Truth-O-Meter with feedback and with claims you'd like to see checked. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.