February 3, 2011
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The first place I turn to for news is Politifact. I watch the State of the Union. All the talking heads are talking about tone and seating arrangements and Obama’s skin color (one guy was complaining on a professional level that Obama’s make up team was awful and he looked to yellow). Even policy wonks like Maddow had to talk about tone and how excited she was. Yay. Maddow’s excited about the Democrat talking and wanting to spend money. Yay.
Politifact.com skipped all that nonsense and just fact checked what everyone said, (Obama, Official Republican responder Paul Ryan and semi-official Tea Party responder Bachmann) and then provided lots of back up information on what they said.
Yesterday, they did something odd. Well, actually, they’ve been doing it a bit for a while. Normally, they do simple fact checks. So-and-so says something will cost $200 million, and they check to see if that number is correct. In the process, you learn more about the subject at hand than watching Fox news all day long. Recently, they’ve been tackling a few more complicated issues.
Here’s one on Egypt. Their ambassador said they’ve made great strides in freedom. That may well be the most broad fact check they’ve ever done. In the past, I suspect they’d have choked that up to an opinion or just ignored it as too big to handle. In that past, it would have never been done. Now, they did a full work up on it and document the problems leading up to the current crisis. It’s some excellent journalism and I encourage you all to go read it now. Link below.
They did the same thing with Paul Broun saying government is a barrier to innovation and development. This fact check handles the bigger question of what does the government do?
Those are the only two examples I have. They’re both this past week. It’s a recent change. It’s a dangerous change. They are risking some of their amazing neutrality to wade into such sticky issues. But I for one am glad they’ve got the balls to this sort of broader fact checking a try.