With all the phony headlines and hoaxes floating around the Internet, it can feel like April Fool's any day of the year.
At PolitiFact, we're debunking more false claims than ever. It's a sad trend that people will maliciously invent fictitious stories and then pass them off as real, hoping for clicks. That's our definition of fake news.
The hoax stories tend to straddle the line between absurd and disturbing. For the record, former President Barack Obama was not hauled into court for wiretapping President Donald Trump. A Hispanic woman who spoke publicly in support of Trump was not then deported. And the rapper Snoop Dogg was not arrested after criticizing Trump in a music video. If you only rely on social media, you might not know the truth. ...
Do you yell at the TV when you see an interviewer letting a politician get away with spinning the truth? I know I do. But let's admit the reality: Questioning candidates on live TV is harder than it looks. And moderating a presidential debate is probably the hardest.
Just look at the typical criticism of debate moderators. They ask dumb questions. They ask inside-baseball questions. The questions are too tough. The questions are too soft. They don't follow up. They flog a pointless line of questioning. ...
In the obscure corners of history lie lessons we shouldn't forget, if in fact we ever learned them in the first place.
That spirit animates Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, the latest of Adam Hochschild's readable, intelligent histories of events we might have learned in high school and then promptly forgot. From Europe's plunder of the Congo (King Leopold's Ghost) to the British war protesters of World War I (To End All Wars), Hochschild is a writer capable of making any topic interesting, relevant and accessible. For those of us with no knowledge or interest in the Spanish Civil War, Spain in Our Hearts is a primer, a meditation and a story of American adventure abroad. ...
From Canada to Colombia, from Spain to South Africa, fact-checking is now spreading around the globe. In June, international fact-checkers gathered in Buenos Aires to compare notes on how we investigate claims, weigh evidence and publish our findings.
Those of us who recently gathered at the Global Summit on Fact-checking are a diverse lot. Some of us are journalists, as we are at PolitiFact. Others are researchers and writers who work for nonprofits. Still others consider themselves civic activists, agitating under repressive regimes to get truthful facts to the public....
One candidate is so calculated in how she parses facts, people see her at best as secretive and at worst as a liar.
The other candidate is so careless with facts, people see him as at best an entertainer and at worst as a liar.
This is 2016, and it's gonna be messy. I'm hearing a lot these days from longtime followers and newcomers to PolitiFact who have strong ideas about how the candidates should be covered. One reader dismissed our fact-checking as just a form of opinion journalism. Another said we were ignoring false statements from Hillary Clinton. Another asked how we could remain objective about a candidate who lies the way Donald Trump does. These are two very different candidates, and the way they talk is a product of their unique backgrounds....
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have something in common: They're both bashing foreign trade agreements to appeal to voters.
The two men have different takes on why the current trade situation is a bad deal. Sanders invokes an economic system that's rigged in favor of the wealthy. Trump, meanwhile, condemns U.S. leadership as inept and lacking business savvy as he vows to "make America great again."...
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a global leader in journalism and the home of the International Fact-Checking Network, is launching a new initiative to fact-check claims about global health and development through a partnership with fact-checking websites PolitiFact and Africa Check, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Facts about health and developing countries are often misunderstood or distorted. Poynter's collaboration with PolitiFact and Africa Check will hold those making false claims accountable, and provide media and the public with context about complex issues....
The art and craft of political fact-checking is not much to look at, usually. We sit at desks and read transcripts. We watch politicians on TV. We read documents and reports. On lively days, we talk with national experts on the phone. Every now and then, we might have a heated conversation with a press secretary.
So when PolitiFact decided to send a small team to Iowa, I jumped at the chance: Fact-checkers unbound from their desks!...
It's the trope on Trump: He's authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That's because Donald Trump doesn't let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years.
"People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts," Trump wrote in his 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal. "People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion."...
ISIS and terrorism were major topics at the Democratic debate on Saturday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton used the venue to take a shot at Republican primary frontrunner Donald Trump, saying that his rhetoric is a gift to ISIS.
"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears," Clinton said. "He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."...
Editor's note: Angie Drobnic Holan is the editor of PolitiFact, the Tampa Bay Times political fact-checking website. She wrote this op-ed for the New York Times, which is also publishing it today.
I am a political fact-checker, which is usually an automatic conversation starter at parties. These days, I get two questions repeatedly: "Is it worse than it's ever been?" and "What's up with Donald Trump?"...
After the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee, PolitiFact Wisconsin fact-checked Rand Paul's attack on Marco Rubio's major proposals.
"We have to decide what is conservative and what isn't conservative. Is it fiscally conservative to have a trillion-dollar expenditure? We're not talking about giving people back their tax money. He's talking about giving people money they didn't pay. It's a welfare transfer payment," Paul said of Rubio’s tax credit plan. "So, here's what we have. Is it conservative to have $1 trillion in transfer payments -- a new welfare program that's a refundable tax credit? Add that to Marco's plan for $1 trillion in new military spending, and you get something that looks, to me, not very conservative."...
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is a fan of vocational training. At the Fox Business Network GOP debate in Milwaukee, Rubio made a pitch for young Americans to put down the textbooks and pick up a blowtorch.
"For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational training," Rubio said. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers."...
The Republican presidential candidates debated serious public policy on the economy, taxes and immigration on Tuesday night, steering away from personal attacks that defined earlier matchups. But they sometimes misstated the facts.
One of the first questions was about the minimum wage. Moderator Neil Cavuto noted the presence of protesters asking for a $15 an hour wage outside the Milwaukee Theatre in Wisconsin. ...
Imagine rural Massachusetts of the 1690s. It's dark and dangerous. A handful of industrious Puritans try to eke out an existence in small towns and on isolated farms, surrounded by woods. When the work isn't physically exhausting, it's soul-crushingly boring. The only distraction is Sunday services, which include the constant threat of going to hell.
Out of the darkness emerges an accusation, from neighbor against neighbor. The devil himself is afoot and urging his handmaids — the witches — to strike against their own community. Is it any wonder such a scenario would capture the hearts and minds of a stressed and isolated community? ...