5 questions about PolitiFact and PunditFact's Lie of the Year

We answer five pressing questions about our Lie of the Year.
We answer five pressing questions about our Lie of the Year.

In a few days, we'll announce our 2014 Lie of the Year. In the meantime, here are answers to questions we get every year. 

1. What is the Lie of the Year?

PolitiFact editors and reporters select the most significant political exaggeration or falsehood of the calendar year. We look for statements about an important issue where the distortion played a notable role in the public discourse. In previous years, we’ve selected statements about the health care law, Medicare and a 2012 campaign ad. 

2. Who "wins" the Lie of the Year?

The Lie of the Year is awarded to the statement itself, not to an individual. We typically pick statements that have been repeated often by many people. Sometimes we find variations on a general theme, like the year we picked "a government takeover of health care."

3. How do you pick the Lie of the Year?

The editors and reporters of PolitiFact look through all the statements which we’ve rated False or Pants on Fire. We narrow those down to a list of finalists that make up the ballot of the Readers’ Choice poll. Then we deliberate, thinking about which of the statements were wrong but also had an important place in the public discussion. The editors make the final call.

4. So what are readers voting for?

The readers get to vote in the Readers’ Choice poll, and we publish the full results. In some years, the readers and editors pick the same choice. (In 2009, editors selected "death panels" and readers overwhelmingly agreed.) In other years, the top readers’ choice is different from what the editors picked for Lie of the Year.

5. Is there a trophy?

There is no actual trophy. But some have suggested we ought to think about one. The "winning" statement must be satisfied only with the notoriety of being Lie of the Year.